Monday, October 06, 2008

A View of the Sacred and Profane

Put those idle hands to use - click on the picture and check out "Lio"
This post is all about heaven, hell and temptation.
After work today, I decided to make a quick stop at one of my favorite stores before going home to browse a bit and possibly use a coupon I got in the mail. (Temptation got the best of me even thought I know I didn't need to buy anything.) When I got to the store, it was closed - the strip mall was experiencing a power outage, so I was saved from the urge to do a bad but stylish thing. I decided it was best to do the right thing and head home. I hopped on the freeway and as I was speeding along (giving in to the temptation of speed - I had to keep up with the flow of traffic), an unusual sight caught my eye.
At the foot of a very busy entrance ramp, at a very busy junction of a local freeway, there was a man working on making sure all the afternoon's commuters made it into heaven. From what I could tell he was a younger man, wearing dark slouchy pants, an oversized polo shirt layered over an equally oversized t-shirt, a baseball cap tilted to the side, and a very large dark jacket of some sort. He was also holding a very large handmade picket sign that read, "JESUS IS LORD."
"What the hell....?" I said out loud, trying not to cause an accident as I strained to reach for my purse to get my cell phone.
The cars speeding by didn't seem to faze him. He rocked slightly back and forth, as though he were trying to keep himself warm in the cool air. He clutched the wooden handle of his sign close to his chest, looking straight ahead facing the cars coming onto the freeway. I couldn't make out his facial features or what expression he had on his face, but judging by the way he stood without flinching, I'd imagine he was pretty content and stoic. I was the exact opposite. As I sped past, I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
All I could think was I hope some careless or speeding driver doesn't send that young man to his maker. Reaching for my cell phone, I decided to play guardian angel to the young evangelist and placed a call to 911. I got right through to a Detroit Police dispatcher and told her what I saw.
"Hold on, I'll put you through to Michigan State Police," she said. I thought I'd go right to another operator. Not so much.
"Thank you for calling the Michigan State Police. If this is an emergency, please remain on the line and an operator will be with you shortly." That's right. I was in voice mail hell. One minute passed. "Thank you for holding. Someone will be with you shortly." Two minutes passed. By now, I'm more than two miles away from the man trying to save souls. What if this were a life or death emergency? Finally, someone answered and I made my report. "Okay. We'll send someone out," the officer said once I was done, then he hung up.
With that, all I could do was shake my head and hope that the young man wasn't hurt. Then I wondered what would happen to him and his sign. Would the officers dispatched to the scene treat him with respect? What would they do to the sign? It was much too big to fit into a squad car? Would they try to fold it and put it in their trunk? Hell, would an officer show up at all? Did anyone else see him? Did they think of his safety and call the police, or did they just look at his message and take it at face value?
It was one of the few times I wished I believed in heaven, salvation, or prayer. My grandmother used to say God watches over old folks, monkeys, and fools. Who looks over those saving souls at the foot of a freeway entrance ramp? Or the nonbeliever who, speeding past and minding her business, sees that person and can only think of saving the prosthelytizer from himself?
I wish I knew the answer to that question. More later.

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