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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Power (05/10/04)

TITLE: Knightfall
By Jeff Kindrick


Lord Acton, in an 1887 letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, wrote in part “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely… ”. The truth inherent in this oft quoted modern proverb was brought home to me with great force one spring evening in 1999. Up to that point in time, I had considered myself, with some pride (another story in there somewhere), to be immune from such insidious human foibles! Here’s how it went down.

My wife Linda, a senior loan officer with the U.S. Small Business Administration was invited to participate in a pair of conferences sponsored by U.S. Senator Conrad Burns, aimed at providing women with the tools to start or improve their own business. At that time, Linda was having some difficulty with her night vision and this trip involved night driving over Highway 93 between Missoula and Kalispell, Montana, a stretch of road notorious for its high accident rate. As an example of this thoroughfare’s infamous reputation, I have seen Montana Highway Patrol cruisers sporting the bumper sticker “I drive Highway 93, Pray for me”. But I digress. As resident knight-errant of our household, I volunteered to take a couple of vacation days and play chauffeur.

We drove from our home in Helena to Missoula on the eve of the first conference and upon checking in at our hotel were given a message requesting that we join the Senator’s party for dinner at a well regarded local eatery. When we arrived, Linda introduced me to some of the participants whom she had met previously, then became involved in shoptalk. As the group of some two-dozen began migrating towards the dining room, I found myself swept up in the tide and momentarily on my own. Senator Burns singled me out as an unfamiliar face and immediately charged up in the best tradition of the Marine Corps, with which he served in Korea, and we were soon Conrad and Jeffrey. Do we sense a bit of ego inflation in the humble chauffeur, eh?

After a fine dinner, a large sheet cake was produced with a flourish to celebrate the 50th birthday of Conrad’s chief of staff. I don’t think that there were a full complement of candles on the cake, but there were enough to generate more than a fair amount of radiant energy, and no ordinary candles these but the variety that continues to relight each time they are blown out. Needless to say we soon had a cake threatened with imminent immolation. But the loyal knight reaches to his belt and draws forth his trusty Gerber Multiplier ™, its jaws agape as it clears the sheath, and promptly begins uprooting the blazing torches from their frosted foundation and dousing them in his own water glass. Applause all around and a Senatorial accolade for my quick thinking! Had I been wearing a hat verily its seams would have been strained.

The next day I assisted Linda in setting up her information booth for the conference. In conversation with a Senatorial staffer my technical background came up and shortly thereafter I became the official roadie for the show, responsible for setting up and operating the video projector during the luncheon. At day’s end, we loaded up equipment and displays and set out in a convoy headed north for Kalispell. The best was yet to come as the adversary maneuvered to set me up for a fall.

We stopped for dinner at an out of the way Mexican restaurant a few miles from Kalispell. One of Conrad’s aides called ahead to our destination hotel to confirm reservations for accommodations and the convention hall. When she was satisfied, she asked the manager to hold on for the Senator’s technical director and abruptly thrust the phone into my hand. A bit surprised, I nonetheless went through a basic checklist for power and audio connection requirements. Suddenly I felt like a true knight; it was “yes, sir.” and “I’ll make sure you have that, sir.” and “will you need anything else, sir?” I basked in the glow of reflected authority. Surely this was where I belonged, breathing the rarefied air found only high among the peaks of power.

Fortunately, as so many times in the past, the Lord was keeping His finger on my spiritual pulse. As dinner neared, I know that He arranged the seating plan as I ended up between two spiritual and humble ladies. To my left the lovely and gracious Linda, mother of my children and love of my life, and to my right, Heather Whitestone McCallum, Miss America 1995, the guest speaker at the daily conference luncheons.

As dinner progressed, we spoke of our faith and our families. Linda related the experience of bringing our children to the Lord when we were baptized three years earlier and the rewards we were continuing to see as a result. Heather spoke of her family and how her faith helped her overcome the challenge of near total deafness from an early childhood illness to become the first Miss America with a disability. It’s near impossible to hang on to lofty pretensions when surrounded by that degree of level headedness. This supernaturally inspired reality check pulled me down from the stratosphere, if not quite all the way to earth, at least tethered within shouting distance. I think I can hear the Shepherd calling my name.

The conference ended the next day, and while my feet were not quite firmly grounded, the danger was past. In John 14:26, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the Advocate or the Helper and says, “He will teach you all things”; well, He was doing some serious educating on my behalf the previous evening. I look back on that experience now with a great deal of humility in seeing how easily I fell prey to the wiles of the deceiver and with wonder at the wisdom of God in making it a marvelous time of learning and growth in my faith.

Member Comments
Member Date
L.M. Lee05/18/04
it is always humbling when we see how easily we've been hood-winked by ole sluefoot!

good read.
Dian Moore05/18/04
Loved the title and your humorous approach to your easily found glory. What we don't do to ourselves to feel important. Loved it - you made me smile.
Marie B. Corso05/19/04
What a good talent you have for writing. I love it when I find words I don't know (forget that stuff about writing at 6th grade level - give me a word to look up in the dictionary). And, you tell a good story. Loved this line: "...breathing the rarefied air found only high among the peaks of power."