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The Broken Window
by Ken Langenbrunner 
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Ramblings of an Old Man: The Broken Window

There is nothing more pressing on a young boy’s mind than the guilt of wrong doing after an incident has happened. As I sat there on the steps of our big old wooden front porch with my elbows resting on my knees, and my face cradled in my hands, my best friend Larry was by my side and just as perplexed as I. We kept going over and over as to what to do or not do about something that had just happened ten minutes earlier. We didn’t want to tell because no one enjoys the consequences of trouble or wrong doing, but we knew it would be worse if we didn’t tell and it was found out later!

Growing up in a small town in Ohio long ago was a great adventure for me. There was maybe eight streets altogether, and at one time I could probably tell you the name of each person in every house, on every street, well almost every one. Just on my street alone there were “50” kids, so there was plenty of playmates for ballgames, bike races, and our favorite evening game kick the can. As young boys growing up in the late 50’s, early 60’s, baseball was king.

My friend Larry lived across the street from me and we thought he was the luckiest guy, because he lived next to a vacant lot, and in back of that was a big hollow. For you younger generations, a hollow is a huge hole in the ground, or a small valley, and the sides were sloped just enough to where you could go running down one side and back up the other without breaking stride.

We played a lot of sandlot baseball in that vacant lot, and one day the ball got pass the catcher and I went running down the hollow after it. After digging around in the weeds for a while I finally found it, but instead of carrying the ball back up I decide to hit it with the bat that I just happen to have in my hand. I yelled up,

“Here it comes”.

I threw the ball up in the air and swung as hard as I could, and I connected solidly with the bat, and the ball went sailing back up the hollow to my friends. I was so proud I couldn’t wait to get back up the hill to see how far it went. It was one of those rubber coated baseballs, so I knew it had to have traveled far.

Just as I reached the top of the hill all I saw was the backsides of my “friends” running away as fast as they could. I wondered what in the world could have scared them so much to cause them to leave. The only person I saw was my friend Larry standing next to his uncle’s car staring at the windshield. You know that strange funny feeling in the pit of your stomach when something frightening happens to you? Well, that was the feeling I had as I walked closer to my friend and saw what he was looking at. I hit the bat so hard it sailed up the hollow, across the vacant lot and hit the windshield of his uncles’ car parked on the street, smashing and cracking over half of it.

There were no adults around at the time and so he and I quickly walked across the street to my house and sat on the front porch, contemplating what to do. That was many years ago, and the details are a little fuzzy, but I think we both were thinking not to tell, but my conscious kept telling me to confess. Growing up we were very faithful to our local church, so I was taught the Word of God, I knew right from wrong, and I believe a lot of those Bible stories were probably racing through my thoughts, convicting me of what I knew I had to do.

I just could not stand it any longer, and I said to Larry,

“I’ve got to tell mom.”

So, I went inside and explained to her what had happened, and she walked me right out the door and across the street to the uncle and we told him what I did. The relief and good feeling you have after a confession is good, but it was even a better feeling when the uncle looked at me and said that because I came and told him, he would take care of the expense. He was forgiving, recognizing the situation for what it was, an accident, and I believe I was rewarded for coming forth and being truthful and honest.

That event, that lesson in life has helped me throughout my life to admit my mistakes and to be just as forgiving as this uncle had been. Even as a young boy, I had proper parental guidance that helped me navigate through society, and also to be grounded in the Word of God in order to always have a home base to return to whenever I would stray too far.

Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) “Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Sadly, at times in life, I have strayed away from those teachings that can give us stability and success in our lives, and yet as the scripture tells us that as we age we will not depart. We can return because of a merciful, longsuffering, and gracious Creator. I recently drove back to that little town, and that wonderful vacant lot and hollow have been replaced with new houses that shelter more kids that will have their own games and events that will grace them with memories of great joy in later years, as they have done for me.

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