Taylor clutched her one little bag tight to her chest. The sidewalk was jammed with people scurrying one place or another. Unlike her, they all had someplace to be, somewhere to go. She was human flotsam caught in a whirlpool of people.
Traffic sounds accosted her ability to think. Sidewalk vendors shouted over the din, hawking merchandise. Hot dogs for a dollar! Hot Pretzels! Her stomach growled as each smell overtook her. She had no money and her resilience too was nearly depleted.
“It was a mistake to come here!” the thought screamed through her mind. She fought it back with a last vestige of brashness, “No duh - mistake doesn’t even cover it! Here I am… seventeen years old and alone in the largest city in the world.”
The pit of her stomach knotted with anxiety. Her feet ached. Her arms were sore. Her eyelids were heavy. What was she supposed to do?
She had so carefully planned everything, surreptitiously withdrawing money from her bank account. Plus she had taken the few extra dollars Mom kept stashed in the cookie jar. The bus ride had been a long blur of passing hillsides, but Taylor had viewed it as the start of a great adventure. Her best friend, Cassie, had invited her to stay with her anytime. But when the building guy had told her that Cassie had moved out some weeks ago, she realized it had been some months since Cassie’s last letter.
Her hope was gone. Her dream of dancing was now sadly discarded on the pyre of childhood. Taylor had gotten fed up with all the rules at home. She could make good money in the city as a dancer - Cassie had told her so. Slyly, she had planned her escape.
Plodding along St. Luke Boulevard, the lively sound of organ music cut through her despair. She thought of the tiny little church her parents dragged her to every week. Surprisingly, it conjured up thoughts of peace and security. She had never had much use for church, but now it shone bright as a possible refuge.
The vaguely familiar hymn led her to an old building that had long ago seen better days. The door was wide open. Taylor timidly entered the dimly lit sanctuary. She tumbled into the back pew and closed her eyes. It felt so good just to sit down. Pictures of Mom and Dad flashed through her mind. No doubt they were fraught with worry.
Someone up front began speaking when the music stopped. In her exhaustion, Taylor found it difficult to focus on what was being said. It seemed like he was talking about someone going home. The preacher or priest or whatever was telling of a son who had ended up eating with pigs and just wanted to go home and be a servant in his father’s house. That pig slop sounded pretty good to her empty belly right at that moment.
She had said some awful things in recent months. She had stolen money. She had lied. Would they forgive her if she got down on her knees and begged? In her heart, Taylor knew they would. This yearning to go home bubbled inside her like a volcano, consuming fear and anxiety, until an emotional dam burst under the unremitting power of Hope.
Repressed guilt and frustration erupted, flowing out in violent sobbing shudders. Taylor felt a hand on her shoulder; a soft voice was asking if she was okay. She shook her head without looking up. “I just want to go home.”
There was quiet for a moment. Then the kind voice asked if there was someone she wanted to call. Taylor snuffled her sobs and nodded her head. She felt like she was five years old.
Taylor meekly followed to a small office. Holding her breath, she punched in the number. Her mother’s hello failed to hide a sad tinge of despair, but to Taylor it was the sweetest sound she had ever heard. She managed to choke out just three words, “Mom, it’s me.”
Infectious Hope instantly rejuvenated her mom’s tired tone. Taylor could hear her shouting, “Frank! Frank, come quick! Taylor, it’s Taylor!”
Taylor closed her eyes and smiled through her tears. Hope had pushed out fear and Peace had flooded into its place. She could go home again.
And home was a good place to be.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 (NIV)
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