The Man in the Woods
The Man in the Woods
By Dan Blankenship
© 2006 Dan Blankenship
He’s here again today. I don’t know his first name, just his last name, Meed. He’s sitting on a fallen tree, a big oak bench that couldn’t be all that comfortable, especially when he would usually sit there for hours reading the Bible.
But Meed, a tall skinny eighteen-year-old who lived down the street from me, did look up from the Bible every now and then. He looked at the trees that surrounded him, seemingly just enjoying watching the wind blow through the leaves.
I’m thirteen, and I think Meed is weird. Day after day, I ride my BMX bike down the trail next to wherever he had decided to sit. I glance at him as I ride by today, wondering what would possess a human being to sit idle in the middle of the woods. The woods were a place to climb trees, shoot at squirrels with a Daisy BB gun, or play Cowboys and Indians. Yes, Meed is a strange character indeed.
I’ve got to know. I have to ask how and why he sits there. I’ve never spoken to Meed. I don’t think we had even really made eye contact – no friendly nod of the head had ever been exchanged.
I backpedal, engaging the brake on my green BMX. I slide to a stop and plant my feet firmly on the ground. I hold on tightly to the handlebars as I prepare to speak. I hesitate, trying to figure out the best way to ask what I have to ask. “Why do you come out here everyday?”
Meed looked at me. He closed the Bible, making sure to place a small bookmark where he had been reading. He seemed to be thinking about his response. How weird. Doesn’t he know people are supposed to come up with answers fast? My dad always told me I better have a quick answer for why I was doing what I was doing. Meed must have a weird dad if he doesn’t know that.
“I am enjoying this,” he replied, moving his head back and forth and nodding at the trees and plants that surrounded us both.
I start laughing, wondering if Meed isn’t a space alien. I look at his hands, just to make sure he has four fingers and a thumb. He does. “This?” I reply.
“Nature, God, this beautiful day. I’m enjoying the birds, the trees, the squirrels, and even that turtle over there.”
Meed pointed to a small clearing. A very small turtle was slowly making his way toward a pile of wet sand a few feet away from where I was standing. It looked so silly that I smiled a little.
“Are you reading the Bible?” I inquired.
That’s it. Yes, and he’s not going to continue. Who reads the Bible day after day in the middle of the woods? He can’t just answer me with a yes.
“Isn’t that weird? I mean who sits in the middle of the woods and reads the Bible?”
“No more weird that riding a machine up and down the same trail, back and forth, day after day, week after week, with only the same results every time.”
Great, now this nerd on a log is making fun of me for being a normal kid. “Riding a bike is fun and exciting.”
“Between the pages of this book,” he replied, holding the Bible up for me to clearly see, “I am learning about a place that spawned the word excitement.”
I don’t even know what “spawn” means. I pretend I do. “Ummm…okay, sure.”
“God created all this, everything. But these woods are corrupted, a mere shadow of the world we were meant to live in; you riding your bike; me reading, watching, and listening. Where we truly belong is a world where the enjoyment of such things will be multiplied a hundred times, maybe more.”
What was it mother said? Oh yes, “never talk to strangers.” Meed was strange, probably stranger than anyone I’ve ever met. I hop on my bike and ride away, narrowly missing the small turtle with my knobby tires. I look back. Meed is opening his Bible once again. Freak!
That was 1979. The woods are gone now; concrete and steel in its place. But the spark of wonder about Heaven is still with me, only now it a full-blown electrical thunderstorm.
Meed was indeed a strange teenager. I wonder if he even remembers our conversation.
Ask yourself these questions today: Have you confessed your faith to others in such a way that thirty years from now people will remember your testimony? Do you have a faith like Meed, one that is not afraid to cause others to question your sanity?
Matthew 10:22 (NASB): “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endure to the end who will be saved.”
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Really cool, Dan. I enjoy reading your stuff and have just added you to my "Track this author" list!
Dan, you had me captivated all the way. A great truth to be gleaned from this story. Yes, are we making a difference? I am thouroughly enjoying reading your book, The Running Girl. Great work, and I recommend it to all. May God bless. Thomas