A Swift Cur­rent Christ­mas ....Part 2

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Viewpoints - BY RAY FRIESEN

Wed­nes­day, late, the two cou­ples from Fort Mac pulled into Swift Cur­rant. They were all hun­gry, but de­cided they should first get mo­tel rooms.

They stayed on the high­way and the other three watched the mo­tel/ ho­tel signs as Joe drove.

Maria felt a tight­en­ing in her chest as sign after sign read “No Va­cancy.” From the K Mo­tel on the west­ern edge to Com­fort Inn on the east­ern edge, all signs said “No Va­cancy.” “Let’s try in town,” Zack sug­gested. “Those ones will prob­a­bly have lots of room.”

They tried. Best West­ern’s sign had the same news, so they headed fur­ther down­town. See­ing the Sham­rock Ho­tel ( the Ir­ish? In Swift Cur­rent?), they de­cided to try it. There was no sign out front so Zack of­fered to go in­side and check. He came out and his face said it all. The Sham­rock was full as well. What with trav­el­ers and job hunters in town, there wasn’t a room avail­able any­where.

“Let’s try the Rockin’ J,” Liz sug­gested. “The worst that can hap­pen is that they are also full,” though no one wanted to think about what that would mean— sleep­ing in the truck in the mi­nus 20 cold. Zack walked into bar and asked if there were any rooms avail­able.

“Sorry,” the man­ager/ bar ten­der said. “We haven’t rented rooms in years.”

“Look,” replied Zack. “We are des­per­ate. We need some­place warm for the night. For­get the dust and mold, or sheets. We have our own sleep­ing bags. Just let us sleep in one of your rooms. We’ll even buy a case of beer and we prom­ise not to tell any­one.”

About to say “No,” the man­ager changed his mind. It was cold out­side. He knew there would be no rooms any­where. This guy did look des­per­ate. What could it hurt to sell them a case of beer and let them sleep in one of the up­stairs rooms? They would be gone be­fore any in­spec­tor of any kind would hear about this and he could al­ways tell the in­spec­tor the four had snuck in when he wasn’t look­ing and he had told them to leave when he found them the next morn­ing. Some­times help­ing des­per­ate peo­ple was more im­por­tant than rules.

“Okay,” the man­ager said. You have a deal.”

Do­ing the best they could with the dust and garbage, they chose ad­join­ing rooms, threw down their sleep­ing bags, and then, find­ing four chairs that weren’t bro­ken, they gath­ered in Joe’s and Maria’s room to sip beer and talk.

No one felt like sleep­ing and why should they? There wasn’t a whole lot wait­ing for them the next morn­ing, ex­cept job hunt­ing, and right now even that seemed too much to imag­ine. In­evitably their con­ver­sa­tion cir­cled around to what they had been talk­ing about a lot lately.

Given their cur­rent ex­pe­ri­ence, the topic was all the more real and press­ing— the pain and un­fair­ness that seemed to con­trol the world. Was this—they looked around the room— and what was hap­pen­ing in Syria and in­equities in eco­nomic well­be­ing or lack thereof, and refugees and geno­cide in S. Su­dan and even worse poverty in Ye­men and racism and re­li­gious big­otry and . . . The list never seemed to end. Was all that and more re­ally all there was in the world? Was there no other way? Would things sim­ply con­tinue to spi­ral out of con­trol till Iran or N. Korea or Rus­sia, or the US, for that mat­ter, dropped the first bomb in ar­ro­gant self- right­eous­ness and the whole world turned to nu­clear waste?!

Tired! Dis­cour­aged! In the dumps, for sure! De­s­pair­ing! Hope but a dis­tant mem­ory! Good things they didn’t have any kids! No one should bring kids into this kind of world!

And then sud­denly, all four cell phones turned on at once and bright light came from each till the en­tire room was filled with it.

“What you see is not all there is. What has been is not all there will be.” It was a Voice un­like any they had ever heard be­fore. They weren’t sure whether to be afraid, run and hide, laugh it off, or take it se­ri­ously.

“The dream of the Uni­verse,” It con­tin­ued, “The Dream of the Uni­verse is for Peace, Jus­tice, Enough for all and no­body with Too Much.” “Yeah, right!” Joe thought, but he did not dare say it for by now he had re­al­ized that this Light and Voice was com­ing through on Face Time and where there was a Voice, there might also be an Ear.

“What Was does not have to Be. What re­ally Is may be stronger than what sees to Be. Tonight is the Be­gin­ning of Some­thing that has not hap­pened in a long, long time. Okay, some, in bits and pieces, but start­ing tonight, here, in Swift Cur­rent, in this room, with the four of you, Some­thing will start, if you agree to join up, that will not stop till it has en­tered ev­ery cor­ner of the world, cir­cled the globe, east/ west and north/ south. Peace. Jus­tice. Love. With Enough for All and No one with Too Much. Are you in?”

“Are we in?” they stam­mered, al­most in uni­son. “Are we in?”

“Is there an echo in this room? Yes, are you In? Is that so hard? You know, In and Out? With the pro­gram or not with the pro­gram? Are you in?”

Joe found his voice first. “Can we have some time to think about this?” he asked. “Con­sult with my wife? With my friends here? Talk about it?”

“You’ve talked about this for months,” the Voice said. “But, I sup­pose. Talk some more. You’ve got two hours.”

“Two hours??!!” This time it was Zack and Jose to­gether. “Two hours??!! With no more info? We don’t even know if you are real or what you are or any­thing. What will we be ex­pected to do?”

“It won’t be rocket sci­ence. You can do it, or I wouldn’t be ask­ing you. I’ll give you the de­tails once you tell me if you’re in. No sense wast­ing my breath if you are go­ing to say no. Two hours.”

“Okay,” all four said. “Two hours.” And with that the Light was gone and the room was back to its dreary, dusty, musty, smelly, dark self. The two cou­ples looked at each other, no one sure what to say next.

( Ex­cerpted from Ray Friesen, Jump into the Story: The Art of Cre­ative Preach­ing ( Eu­gene, OR: Wipf & Stock) to be re­leased in spring, 2019). Used by per­mis­sion.

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