Someone’s Huckin’ Stone’s From A Parallel Universe

 

I’m not sure it would qualify as a major milestone in my life, but it wouldn’t be stretching things to say that it was a pretty big deal.

The church youth group was having a gathering at the youth minister’s house after Sunday night services, and I was being asked to attend. The evening was to include pizza, music, and some time to talk about God. It was a big deal because I was still a little young for this particular youth group. It was for the older, high school aged youth. I was still in junior high, but the youth minister thought I would enjoy myself, and asked my mom if I could attend anyway.

I could tell that my mom was a little worked up as she drove me to the gathering. I think it was just natural anxiety from watching her boy enter the next chapter of his life. Heck, I had a few butterflies myself. I was about to hang out with the high school kids for the first time. A lot of very important social issues (to an eighth grader anyway) were hanging in the balance, and my hair wasn’t “doing right”. This could be a problem. As I got out of the car, mom smiled and assured me that no one would even notice.

It was exactly what you would expect. Way too many teenagers, crammed into way too small of a space. Everyone eating, laughing and talking, and all at the same time. Any fears I had were soon forgotten, as everyone there was nice to me, and made it a point to include me in whatever was going on. I couldn’t have asked for better, so I  relaxed and had fun.

After the pizza disappeared, everyone gathered in the biggest room of the house for some music. We all sang, while the youth minister and a couple of others, played guitars. After several songs, the youth minister took over and settled everyone down for a message. It was an appropriate topic about faith in God, and the invincibility of youth. He spoke about how easy it is to have faith in God, when life is going good. When life, and everything in it, seems to be yours for the taking. The times when you feel like nothing truly bad would ever happen to you. He told us that during times like that, it was easy to stand with your chin held high and talk about your faith in God.

But what about the times when life isn’t so easy? The youth minister switched gears and asked us to think for a moment about what kind of faith we might have when difficulties came our way. He volunteered one of the seniors and asked how it might affect their life and faith in God, if for example they were stricken by polio and could no longer walk, “…like Jay over there.”.

It startled me a little to hear my name, but I remained quiet and waited for an answer like everyone else. The boy didn’t speak right away. It was a big question and he wanted to respectfully be sure of his thoughts before answering. The room was dead silent. Most, waiting to hear what he had to say, but all glad that they weren’t the one picked to answer.

After an admirable time of consideration, the young man spoke with humble honesty and said, ” If I had to live the rest of my life, like Jay;….I would kill myself.”

The room immediately nodded in agreement as the youth minister picked up his point with, “….see what I mean? Don’t let your faith in God be determined by…”, and on he went with the room full of people in the palm of his hand.

I was only in junior high school, and had completed maybe two science classes in seventh grade;……but clearly I had discovered the existence of an actual parallel universe.

In the one universe, a group of youth are listening to a soul altering, life affirming message about their faith in God. In the parallel universe there’s just me, sitting on the arm of the couch, with mouth agape and a confused look on my face while I muttered, ” Wait;…what now?”, far too late for anyone to notice.

You’re probably thinking that it was pretty painful to hear that a roomful of people would rather commit suicide, than to be me.  Well yea it was a shock, but there wasn’t a soul there that even remotely intended to hurt me. It was a lot to get my arms around though. I couldn’t believe the reality of it. Did I really hear that? I was in the process of convincing myself I didn’t hear, what I just heard, when the first of a long line of people approached, to compliment me on my faith. Yes, if the situation weren’t already surreal enough, I was now being patted on the back and admired by my fellow youth for my remarkable ability to,……ya know, not kill myself.       Wow.

I lived on the same planet, went to the same schools. and spoke the same language. Just didn’t exist in the same universe.

My mom picked me up when it was over, and she couldn’t wait to hear how everything went. I started to tell her, but thought better of it. My mom was a very smart person, but I knew she didn’t have an answer for this kind of thing. Who would? Maybe I was growing up, but I knew it would hurt her to know something like that happened, even if it didn’t hurt me. So when she gleefully asked how it went for me, I just told her that she was right. No one had noticed that my hair wasn’t “doing right”. She sighed with great relief that it was over, and that I was okay.

I stared at the stars on the ride home.

So we start from here.

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