The cold concrete park bench propped up the little old man slouched up against it. His stone gray hair flaring out over his ears accenting his tattered black knit cap. His unshaven face was buried beneath a soiled woolen overcoat. Two sweat shirts, a sweater, two pairs of pants and some long johns, helped retain the heat in his frail body. Off in the distance, a mother and her daughter, Mary, spotted the man as they were taking a winter stroll in the park.
“Momma, why is that man sitting on the cold ground?”
“I don't know honey,” said the mother as she pulled Mary close to her side.
As they came nearer, the stench of the fermented coke cans and the rotted trash in the concrete encased trash bin reached their noses just in time to mask his noxious body odor. The little girl pulled away from her mother and approached the man. “Hey mister, are you okay? Hey can you hear me?” She turned to her mother, eyes frowning, shoulders shrugging, and a look that only an inquisitive child could darn.
He raised his head and grinned. “Hello young lady, what is your name?”
“My name is Mary. What is yours?”
“My name is John.”
“Why are you sitting on that cold ground?”
John let out a thunderous laugh which scared off the feeding pigeons. “I guess you could say I am chill'n out.” They both chuckled.
“Your funny, said Mary.”
“Do you have a home? Momma said you were homeless.” Mary's mother nudged her and apologized for Mary's rudeness.
“Oh yes. Yes indeed. I am on my way there now. Do you believe in God, Mary?”
“I sure do. My Sunday school teacher, Ms. Jane, talks about God all the time. And she talks about Jesus. Do you know about Jesus?”
“My, my yes. He is the one that made my house ready.”
“Ask your Ms. Jane. She will tell you what he promised.”
“What did he say?” Mary asked
“ He said, 'Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.' “ John 14:1-3 (KJV) John puffed out his chest and said, “My mansion is just over the hill top.”
“Did you know they made a song that says that same thing?” Mary proudly explained.
“Oh, its a beautiful song. “ John began singing and Mary joined right in. When they finished they both grinned and gave each other a high five.
Mary and her mother said good-by and went on their way. The next week they decided to venture back to the park and check on John. As they approached the park bench they could see that someone was leaning up against the bench. Mary looked up at her mother with a smile and broke away to greet her new friend.
“Hello John, “ said Mary with a grin. “You chill'n again?”
A head popped up and it wasn't John's.
“Hey, who are you? Where is John.?”
“You mean John the Baptist. We call him that because he is always preaching to us to repent.”
“I am sorry mister, said Mary's mother. We were here last week and John was sitting here and my daughter thought you were John.”
The man lowered his head and said, “John went home to meet his master three days ago.”
“What does he mean momma?”
Mary's mother stooped down and got eye ball to eye ball with Mary. She took her two hands into her's and said, “Ya know that mansion over the hilltop John spoke of. He has made it there and now can chill out and relax all the time.”
“I am glad he made it there,” said Mary. “Do you think one day we will have a nice mansion like John's.”
“I am absolutely sure and we might even get to live next door to him.”
They continued their walk with Mary singing Mansions over the Hilltop and her mother looking up and whispering, “Chillax John.”
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