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The Weapon Of Hope
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The Weapon Of Hope
When all else fails, there is hope. Three short stories reveals where lies ours.
Jeffrey (George) Winter
Journalist, counselor, author.
AUTHOR'S E-MAIL ADDRESS
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (10)
Ed's Gift (Short Stories) An insignificant man imparts the truth of wisdom and peace. [1,308 words] [Spiritual]
Heaven Is Hell's Fire (Poetry) - [108 words] [Spiritual]
Justice Come Due (Poetry) God's reply to justice. [95 words] [Spiritual]
Love Denied (Poetry) - [171 words] [Spiritual]
Strength's Illusion (Essays) A visit with a disabled friend: How our understandings of strength affect our relationships. [1,696 words] [Spiritual]
The Adventure Of Human Freedom (Essays) As title indicates. [1,149 words] [Spiritual]
The Power Of Surrender (Short Stories) A good man takes on evil. [1,431 words] [Spiritual]
The Way We Actually Were (Short Stories) Recollections from a veteran of the Third Reich. [1,337 words] [History]
Tied By The Heart (Essays) Does our freedom ensnares us? [1,128 words] [Spiritual]
Wisdom Dug Out Of Dirt (Short Stories) The wealth possessed by a poor, old farmer. [1,032 words] [Biography]
The Weapon Of Hope
Jeffrey (George) Winter
“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.”
I wonder how many of us really listen to such words, incorporate them into minds diffused busily by a thousand and one other concerns that render consideration of seemingly insignificant things meaningless.
I remember an old man once telling me how so much of what he thought was important was surrendered on the day his grandchild died. “Nothing,” he told me, “Can replace him.” And with tears he turned away. To a world whose focus could no longer be his because it could not provide what he most dearly loved and had, and least for him, most irretrievably lost.
I wondered, of what value is a sparrow or two that is sold for a copper coin? And I knew that this man, in the midst of his grief and sorrow that the years had only lessened but never completely removed, understood far more clearly than most of us would ever have occasion or desire to.
My sorrow for him paled in comparison to mine for us. How little we know and how much time we waste, busily racing about in mind or on foot, toward that which we think has value.
While missing that which truly does.
A lady I knew in South Chicago some years ago, told me of the struggles she endured moving from Mexico to her apartment near Calumet Park. Abandoned by her husband years ago, she had by now secured a good job with the postal service and was raising three sons.
Two I knew well. Extremely polite, well-mannered and respectful, they brought their mother much joy as they did to those who knew them. The third I knew only in passing. On his way off to the streets where he gambled, involved himself in gang activity and flexed his supposed authority over those who knew little how vulnerable and afraid he was. Or how bound he was to a lifestyle that was destroying him. As it was his mother and his younger brothers.
I remember the day I heard he’d died. Upon hearing it on the street, my first reaction was tears. How tragic, I thought. If only… . If only this or if only that. If only a million and one things. If only, after all was thought and considered, this had not happened. Then there may have been a chance!
But now there no longer was. As my thoughts cleared momentarily after such considerations, they moved to his mother and two brothers. And my tears returned only this time, en masse. How unendurable it must be for them! Those who loved him so dearly, who endeavored beyond effort to bring their lost son and brother back into the fold,. Once so innocent and lovable. Now broken away and indictable, yet loved even more.
How could they possibly endure a grief that would swamp the strongest, bravest and most courageous of men?
A few days later, I watched at the funeral while people filed by the boys’ casket. Some wore a look of righteous indignation as if they and their families were above the squalid lifestyle that delivered this man child here. Their eyes spoke of contempt for such things and perhaps even for him as their minds tempted them with thoughts of justice come due. So too, they revealed a hidden fear that their lives were not so distant from the dead boy’s or of his family. As they walked away to extend sympathetic hands to the mother, I wondered if they even knew the value of a sparrow, a coin or a life?
Others bearing more compassion approached. Their eyes were milder, projecting a confused sorrow. Perhaps at the state of their neighborhood that too often now, made gatherings like this necessary. Possibly from a pale understanding of the grief a mother feels at the loss of her son, state of behavior not a consideration. And maybe over a recognition that her loss could be their’s someday which made it so this day.
It seemed these people understood better what a sparrow was worth. And a coin and a life.
Following their departure, the mother approached her son and looked longingly and sadly, standing motionless for nearly a minute. No one dared draw near and break the intimate final moment she could share with her breathless son. Her oblivion to everyone around her perhaps matched that of theirs to the knowledge she possessed. Of sparrows and coins and lives
As she stepped back and tuned away, she passed by the line of consolers, accepting their wishes and prayers. She then reached me. I remained silent and looked at her not knowing what to say or do. How could one who had never borne a son much lost him?
She broke the silence with three simple sentences.
“You know,” she started, “I really don’t know what else I could’ve done…I did all I could and it wasn’t enough.”
“But you know son,” she added, “Even though I know I’ll never be free of this pain, so too I know that he is where he needs to be right now.”
“He never was really mine,” she concluded, “He was God’s and that is where he is Safely. Right now. In His hands. And that is all I need to know.”
As she turned away, I knew that she held the value of a sparrow, a coin and a life in her heart. Far more intimately than anyone else there.
Not long ago, I came upon an acquaintance as he strode near enroute to a meeting.
“Hey, how you doing,” he gasped with a smile, “I’d love to stop and chat but I’d be late for a meeting,” he added as he cruised by wearing a grin wider than the nearby traffic lane, “Have a nice day.”
Onward down the block he progressed, rendering pretty much the same greeting to everyone he passed until he disappeared around a corner at block’s end.
Passing by some of the people he greeted as they approached me, we all smiled and shook our heads wonderingly and in unison, “He’s one of a kind isn’t he?”
He was and he is.
Highly respected in the community for his numerous volunteer affiliations for which he finds time amidst his successful business practice and tending his model family, his energy is sprayed like a summer rain on dry and dusty fields, filling cracks and crevices here and there and bringing the field back to bloom.
The man is a “doer” and his business and community involvements and family life are measured by that. All successful as such things are defined with good profits, good fundraising and good grades measures of that. What could possibly be wrong in a life such as his?
I often wondered, so one day when I caught him in a brief five-minute slowdown, I asked him where he found the energy.
“I just keep going,” he said, “I don’t know how to slow down.”
“To be honest with you,” he added, “I don’t know what I’d do if I did.”
“There’s too much out there to do,” he concluded, “So I don’t think about slowing down.”
And then he was off. To his next involvement at the next meeting on the street down the next block.
As he disappeared around a corner, I wondered if he ever considered that the next was preceded by the now which was forever there unless one strode away from it.
I wondered too if he understood that only in the now, at the very present moment whether it held grief, sorrow, pain, anxiety, relief, excitement or joy lay true knowledge of a sparrow’s value, a coin’s worth and a life’s meaning.
And I wondered as he dashed off, if his life was really as full as he and others thought. Or if perhaps, the reason he raced to and fro so much, was that he was still trying to fill it
Some day I know that we will all be made fully aware of a sparrow’s value, a coin’s worth and a life’s meaning.
And understand that such a consideration need have been our primary one.
|READER'S REVIEWS (4)
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"Your writing always makes me think, sometimes about what you've written trying to make sure that I understand it, and sometimes thinking about things in my own life that your words have brought to the front of my mind. My cousin had four children all brought up equally, all given the same chances and oppertunities. Three of them have done well one of them, My cousin David turned to drugs. David was murdered last Christmas when someone he owned money to cut his drugs with warferin. To everyone else Dave was scum, a useless no-good junkie, to us he was 'our Dave' and we loved him. The man who murdered him got four years. If he had murdered someone who wasn't an addict would he have got a longer sentence? One more junkie off the streets, maybe he should have been rewarded. Your piece made me think about this. I don't think Dave cared much about sparrows,though I know he would never have hurt one. But he knew the value of a coin. Thank-you." -- Sooz, Dalton, England, Cumbria.
"Sooz, I appreciate your response(s). I've learned that as many as will read such writing and think, there are just as many who will dismiss it. Which is fine. But which makes those who read and think, and even re-think, all the more valued even if they disagree. Life, I guess, is best understood with feedback. As for sparrows and coins and such things, my deepest regrets over your cousin David's death. That you know he would never hurt one (sparrow) indicates that somwhere inside he knew the value of the most important thing: mercy. Both received and shared. That is what matters. That knowledge too puts everything in perpective, coins, sparrows and all else. My thoughts and prayers remain with you, David and his immediate family. Regards. " -- Jeff.
"Hi Jeff, Like this one, too, you must have some experience with grief counselling, as do I, to be able to express those thoughts so fluidly and not superficialy. Grief does indeed overwhelm the strongest and the bravest, but hope also matches grief's intensity." -- Shelley, Fullerton, California, USA.
"Very well written and thought provoking! Love your style." -- Carmen Gamble, Canada.
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© 2002 Jeffrey (George) Winter
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