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by collette mcfarland 
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I sat there quietly listening. Quietly criticizing and scoffing. Whatís wrong with these people? Canít they do anything by themselves? The lord knows I did it all by myself, never bothering him for help, begging for handouts. Yes, begging, for thatís exactly what these hokumís are doing under the guise of prayer requests; asking for jobs, for food, for rent money, for money to take the childrenís ministry to a pizza party. Give me a break; let their parentís fork over some dough, thatís the least they could do for free babysitting so they could sit home and drink beer and squabble. I wanted a job when I was young so I went to college, got a degree, went to undergraduate school, got another degree, applied for a job competing with several other well qualified applicants, got hired based on my qualifications, climbed the corporate ladder and now Iím the big cheese, the CEO of my own law firm.

After the final amen was proclaimed, I got up and headed to the exit, shaking hands as I went. Not that I offered my hand first, but hands were shoved under my nose. The path on the way out was lined with plaques honoring me for donating the auditorium, the stained glass windows, the piano and many other tax deductions. Iíd been a member of this church since I was dedicated as an infant by my mother and father. They had been really devout in their faith, praising God for all my successes. I couldnít convince them that it was due to my own efforts that I reached the top of the world. When I bought them a new house, car and maid service they gave God the credit before they thanked me! I never got over that! Pity.

Both my parents are gone now, turned to dust, recycled into the environment, compost, worm nourishment and Iíve honored their memory long enough by attending these religious rituals. I made my decision in the prayer meeting just now, I donít need to be here anymore, wasting my time coming here once or so a month. As much as God needs me to contribute to this church, I donít need him and Iím tired of being used like a year round Santa Claus. With each handshake forced upon me, I silently said, ďAdios, chumpĒ, while they vocally promised to see me at the next service. Nope, not unless they plan their next service in my conference room at work where Iíll be building my empire and fortunes to higher levels.

I backed the Lexus out of my parking space for what I trusted was the last time., and I do mean my space as the name painted in luminescent white testified, I hope someone else with the same last name joins the church or this space will be growing grass. Heck this whole church practically belonged to me so it would all probably fall apart without my presence. The minister even seemed to alter his messages to avoid stepping on my toes when he spotted me in the audience; spotted me in the front row in the specially designed lounge chair custom made for me.

I only thought I had made a clean break as someone tapped on my window. I tripped the electronic window opener to open the space up between me and little Miss Isle Winsome. (Yes I know correct grammar indicates that I should mention Miss. Isle Winsome before myself, but hey, whoís more important here?) Hoping to deliver an unspoken message of urgency I only cracked the window enough for our voices to pass between us. Miss. Isle Winsome had the reputation of hearing from God audibly so I didnít intend to spend much time with her; after all talking to God is prayer, hearing from God is psychotic, and Miss. Isle Winsome was as delusional as they came. Especially since there is no such being, as these people will discover when I disappear from their pathetically underprivileged little lives taking their so called miracles with me.

ďMr. Granger, I just wanted to give you this little token of Godís presence.Ē She said slipping a cross through the tiny little space I provided for her. ďGod informed me last night you would need this someday to get back home.Ē

ďOh, he did, did he? Well, I better not lose it,Ē I said with veiled sarcasm that a fool like Miss. Isle Winsome wouldnít be smart enough to recognize. I accepted her gift and laid it on the seat next to me. ďThank you, now if youíll excuse me, Iím in kind of a hurry.Ē I explained closing the window and pulling out into the driveway and off the property before my retreat was thwarted by anyone else with messages from their peculiar neural synapses.

Once on the freeway I hit the gas pedal. No officer in town would stop me. It seems that the police charities I contribute to might suffer a pinch if I was angered, or embarrassed by a pull over. Oh, the sweet taste of success, of world ownership! Who said the feudal system was dead? It just changed face.

It being such a pleasant day I decided to take the scenic detour home. It took me miles out of the way but even a busy man like me needs some change of scenery. And change of scenery it was. The sky ahead switched from a brilliant blue to grey, to a sort of blue-black. I could still see the brilliant summer sky behind me in the rear view mirror, but up ahead a storm was brewing that showed all the possibilities of being a doosy.

It wasnít long before my predictions became reality when lightning bolts bounced off the earth. It was spectacular, or would have been if Iíd been home watching from shatter proof windows in a residence , so big that if half of it were destroyed by a tornado there would still be room for a hundred guests, er, servants. The lightning preceded the thunder which preceded the deluge which preceded the formation of a river on the tar top, er, freeway. Unfortunately despite all my toys and inventions my car was still just a car, imagine that! I hadnít advanced to James Bondís all terrain vehicles that could be transformed into submergibles or boats; therefore my Lexus went with the current against its will, and mine! My insurance covers this, I hope, since I didnít have it insured as a boat!

Further, further down the road, er, river, er whatever, I went, banging against rocks, trees, mountains, shrubs and anything that got in the way leaving hubcaps, fenders and paint chips. I must confess my eyes were closed for most of the excursion; I had long ago lost interest in the scenic detour.

Suddenly my craft came to a halt and sank downwards below water level and the interiorís air bubbled upwards leaving nothing for me to inhale except fluid which human lungs had long since lost the ability to utilize as efficiently as amphibians.

I lost consciousness and Ödied? That was my only reasonable explanation when I came to on the soggy, soupy ground seconds, er minutes , er , hours, later, lying beside and enormous furry creature. I sat up rubbing my head trying to recollectÖhow did I Öwhere amÖwhat didÖ? I had no idea; really, I mean I had no idea; my mind was an out-and-out blank, a clean slate, void of memories. Was this creature my mother, had I just been born? Would a new born know they had just been born? Thatís a tough philosophical question for someone as young as me, I must be a genius.

Mom nudged me with her nose and directed me towards home; a nice dry cave complete with branches to sleep on and meaty bones from her last dinner for me to gnaw on. She tucked me in for a good nightís sleep, under her arms near her comfortingly loud beating heart and I soon fell into a peaceful slumber.

I donít know how many moons and suns rose as I never learned to count, that wasnít important for my survival. Finding food and shelter and keeping up with Mom were my only priorities. At first I felt a little self conscious as she seemed stronger and fuzzier than me, and talk about trees, I couldnít climb one they way she did with her beautiful claws. I certainly couldnít topple a mighty oak like she could; I was still on trainer trees, more like twigs with roots. I must be handicapped! A runt! No wonder Mom never takes me to see her friends. No. She loves me, a child can always tell these things. Over time I grew more fur, mostly on my face, my nails grew long and tough, body parts calloused and my muscles enlarged but I still had runt written all over me when I stood beside Mom.

One clear day at the river, Mom was lazing on the rocky shore, sunning, but not tanning, while I fished for dinner. She did the cooking last night so it was my turn this evening. I may be a runt but I do a fantastic job of setting the table, and cooking sushi is easy, after all raw fish is fireproof! Or is that foolproof? Whatever.

I chomped my teeth down on the squirming rainbow trout that I had tossed onto the ground and my teeth got snagged by something. Shaking my head, fish still in mouth, I felt something slap my cheeks so I pawed at my face. Something looped over my wrist. This fish had been wearing a necklace. What in the world? How did I know what a necklace was? I examined my find carefully. Iíve seen this before. The sun hit the metal just right and it glowed, it sparkled. It was a cross. This is the cross Miss. Isle Winsome had given meÖ..Hold on! What is going on here? I shook my head to clear it. It was coming back! I stared at the cross. God! God had done this to me! I believe now! God help me!

I turned slowly, fearfully. If my memory was right and I wasnít crazy, (anymore) I would discover an enormous big hairy grizzly sitting behind me, licking its jowls at me as though I were pork chops on a platter. I may be a new believer but it might be a short lived belief!

There she was. Big and beautiful. Awesome. Staring at me like I suspected. But she wasnít a big hairy grizzly anymore. She was Isle Winsome in all her radiance. An angel staring at me like a lost sheep she had just brought home (get the pork chop connection?). Miss. Isle Winsome had had conversations with God after all. Personal upfront conversations. She wasnít psychotic, though now Iím wondering about me. Isle Winsome. Iíll win some! God does have a sense of humor, Iím not sure I share it though, standing here waist deep in freezing water, a dead fish in my mouth, with tattered clothes that had cost more than some peopleís unemployment checks.

I was brought back home by Miss Winsome to find no one had done an extensive search for me when I went missing three years ago. Oh, they searched, but without gusto. My partners had been happy to be relieved of my presence, my obnoxiousness, and explained to the press I had gone away for a restful sabbatical. How rude. Me that is, not them. I came to many conclusions on my quick flight home, airplaneless, mind you! What a way to travel. I had been wrong about so many things. Major things.

I had the church remove all the plaques with my name on them and rewrite them as Donated In The Name Of Jesus. He would be getting all the glory from me from now on. I had my lounge chair and personal name plate in the parking lot removed. When prayers were offered for jobs I created some in my corporation. I started spending more time in church, especially the outreach programs. Boy did I have things to teach about denying God! But I had to be careful because Iím still not sure I hadnít been dreamingÖ..for three plus years! I still fish with my hands, who needs a rod and bait? And Motherís day now has a special meaning for me, as does Easter, Christmas, Sunday, laundry day, trash day, Monday, Tuesday , Wednesday, ÖÖ.

Daniel 4:28-36
Eccles. 5:1-7
Psalm 34:7
Rom. 2:1-16
James 2:1-13
2 Peter 3:9

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