Nate woke up early, hearing only the song of the occasional mockingbird, rather than the usual steady traffic. He had before him a few hours dedicated to writing. An article for a well known Christian magazine. They had invited him to contribute. His efforts were apparently resonating in important circles.
Just write about what you are doing, they said.
He didn't want to think of it this way, but couldn't help it. This was a chance, a chance to spread the message a little bit further. The thought made him smile. Because what the community was doing was important, and fun. It had saved his life. And not only his but so many others whose faces and names and stories flooded his mind.
God had been doing a work. Nate was a part of that, just a part, even if he seemed to be the leader. It was God's work, and the Holy Spirit had brought some of the most amazing people to join in with it. Making it go way beyond anything Nate had imagined five years before when he left his job at Crestview Community Church to become a janitor at a downtown restaurant. So much had happened. After thirty years a Christian, ten of these in full time ministry, Nate had finally met Jesus.
His heart was still strangely warm. He knew it was more than just the large, half finished, mug of French roast sitting beside him. Coffee helps but doesn't make all things this well.
It hadn't been easy. Nate lost his house and his fiancée, had to give up so much to take up so much. The hours of prayer and study and conversation seemed endless. Sacrifices of his time and energy, with almost entirely no practical benefit. Except for the joy. Maybe really there's nothing more practical than joy.
That's the theme, he said out loud. A pigeon on the ledge outside his window cooed in response. A sign, he laughed. Then remembered that the dove is the symbol, not a pigeon. Made him laugh again as he tried to figure out what a city pigeon suggested.
Two thousand words into the article. Two more mugs of French roast. The sun now was low in the horizon. Traffic drowned out the sound of the certainly singing sparrows and finches. The pigeon had left an hour before. This is good, he thought, thinking of both the article and his life.
All that was left was the conclusion. He moved the mouse to the formatting bar. The cursor froze. He tapped the space bar. Nothing. Moved the mouse again nothing. Stared at the screen. Nothing. Went to the bathroom. Came back. The cursor still wouldn't move. Everything was frozen. Thank God for autosave, he said, while reaching down and manually turning off the computer. The LCD went blank. Then brightened again. More than usual. A bright blue with a couple paragraphs of technobabble.
He restarted the computer. Same thing.
The sound of Beethoven's moonlight sonata began to fill the room. Nate reached into his backpack and opened his cell.
"Yeah," he answered, vaguely irritated.
"Nate," Luis said, “We need you at Huntington hospital. Melissa…"
"Nate, last night she was attacked. Robbed. Who knows what else."
"How is she?"
"They don't know, Nate. She's been shot. They don't know. I just found out. I'm on my way myself."
"Leaving right now."
Nate folded up his cell phone and grabbed his dodgers hat. Turned off the computer again. The article, whatever was left of it, didn't matter. Put on his sandals, and a clean shirt. Didn't even think of showering or shaving.
Down the old wooden, white washed stairs. Out the back door to the small parking lot where he, the manager, and a couple of waitresses parked. No room for anyone else.
Nate stood in the open doorway and stared. Looked around. There were no cars in the lot. Not even one by the dirty, dented blue dumpster. Which was where he was sure he had left his car the night before after visiting with a small group in Duarte.
Only two pigeons strutting around the asphalt. And a pile of broken glass that caught his eye when the sun rose over the fence and reflected off the shards. Broken glass that was where he knew he had parked his car last night.
Nate stood in the open doorway and stared. He had no thoughts or words.
One of the pigeons cooed.
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