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Tuesday, August 11, 2009


of mice and young men

I've been toying with the idea of focusing--at least for awhile--on my little town. I know my profile says I live in Seattle, but that's because I figured I'd lose you if I said Marysville. But now you know the truth.

I could probably blog for an entire year about the characters in this town. And up till now, the only reason I haven't done so is because I couldn't choose which story, which character to share first. But yesterday I found my beginning place. I'm going to start on one specific street in downtown Marysville, the one that runs by Starbucks.

I saw the boy as Dave and I were driving out the back entrance of the Starbucks parking lot. I'm amazed I noticed him at all because I was totally consumed with my iced grande soy latte. I'd been trying to get up the courage to try a soy latte for two weeks. But every time I stood at the counter and opened my mouth, some other order came out. Yesterday, however, after managing to gush my worries to the barista and hearing her assurance that I could dump it if I wasn't delighted and she'd replace it for free, I went ahead and jumped off that cliff. And you know what? It wasn't bad at all. They use vanilla soy, which apparently masks the fact that you're drinking bean milk.

I was sipping and savoring and mmm-ing as we turned left out of the parking lot, but in the midst of all that I caught a glimpse of the traveler sitting on the right side of the road. I knew he was a traveler because he was thoughtful enough to announce it, to me and every other driver within passing distance. Traveling--Low on funds, his cardboard sign read. I'm not sure if it was the honesty of that sign or the fact that he had dredlocks which drew me to him, but something did. (On the dredlock topic--I've always been fascinated. I'm quite sure that if I were a twenty-something young man, I'd have them too).

I looked in my wallet and found a five-dollar bill with no immediate plans attached to it. "Mind if I give this to that boy?" I asked Dave. He didn't. I pulled down my window and waited to catch the traveler's eye. He grinned when he saw my outstretched hand and jogged over.

"Where are you headed?" I asked.

"Seattle," he answered. And then, because he's a traveler, don't you know, and travelers have to make friends quickly, he kept talking. "I have a job interview there. I might stay. Or I might go north ... or south. I don't know." He grinned, and that cinched it. I liked him. I actually wanted to take him home with us and make him a pot roast, but as we were talking in the middle of the street and the light had just changed and a line of cars behind me didn't share my fascination with the boy, we had to part ways.

"God bless you," I said.

He God blessed me right back.

My heart stayed on that street corner with the boy I would never see again. And all the way home, I hurt that I couldn't bring him to our home and to our church. My reaction startled me. I'm not the first person to hand out money to sign-holders. In fact, I often suspect that when their day's work ends, they hop in their somewhere-hidden Mercedes and jet off to their beach-front homes. I have no proof, mind you, but that's my suspicion. From time to time, God nudges me to help someone, but until I feel that holy prod, I look the other way.

I grieved over my lost friend all evening, and thought about him again this morning. But it wasn't until I sat down to write this post that I made the connection.

Just a week ago, as I'd been pulling out of Starbucks again on that same back road onto that same street, a small blur on the pavement between me and the front car caught my eye. It was a mouse, and he was running for his life. For right on his heels came a (proportionally) giant black crow. Just as the crow was reaching his feet out to snatch the mouse, the big-eared, long-tailed little guy ran beneath the front car. Seconds later, that car moved. Not wanting to run him over, I scanned the pavement before moving forward, but he was nowhere in sight. It occurred to me that he may have hitched a ride on the undercarriage of the car--and I was right. After that car had turned left and gone twenty feet, the mouse reappeared, and skittered across the left side of the road. I looked up the road, saw an oncoming car, and held my breath. But the mouse made it to the curb unsquished. However, his troubles weren't over, for the crow had been watching as well, and he flew from behind me and swooped right toward the mouse. I so wanted him to get away. I watched as he bounced against the curb--no doubt fighting panic--and lay dazed for a split second. He ran back, just barely missing the crow's talons, and then ran forward again. But the writing was on the wall for this battle. Before the light changed and I left the scene, the crow had snagged his prey and flown off to enjoy his lunch.

The entire drama had played itself off directly across the street from where the traveler sat waiting. The mouse was long-gone, long-digested by the time that boy sat himself on the grass and penned his cardboard sign. But I must have made a sub-conscious connection.

It's a great big world, and he was just one young man--a young man who reminded me of my own boy. A young man whose mother might be looking up from her stove somewhere and wondering if her boy is hungry. A young man about to venture into a world chock full of taloned predators. I know there's an adventure involved, and I hope on his search he finds whatever he's looking for. But I'm praying he simply lands somewhere warm and safe, and that at the end of his traveling, he knows he's loved.

We're all on a journey of some sort. May your travels today lead to joy.

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8 Comment:

At 8/11/2009 12:15 PM, Blogger Kim had this to say ...

How do you do it? By the time I finish reading your posts I have tears in my eyes. And now I have an intense desire to make my boys a pot roast... :)

 
At 8/11/2009 6:51 PM, Blogger Deborah had this to say ...

Such a great post. I always try to make eye contact with those that I hand money too. Downtown Nashville, they seem to be every where. My thoughts have often gone to those that are wondering where their loved one is.

 
At 8/12/2009 12:49 AM, Blogger Christabelle had this to say ...

I enjoy your blog, Shannon! It's so nice to see a new post. I hope very much that boy lands in a safe place. After that story of the mouse, I couldn't help but squirm a little in my seat and home he was okay! I might have one more person to add to my prayers tonight...

 
At 8/12/2009 8:45 AM, Blogger Shannon had this to say ...

Hi Kim, Deborah and Christabelle!

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I've been awful about posting ... really awful. Too busy with other assignments. This is actually an old post from about three years ago, but I do still think about this boy from time to time. And I pray for him each and every time.

I have a thought for a new post, but I only just yesterday turned in the manuscript I've been working on, so I'm taking a teeny break before I attempt anything creative (outside of my kitchen :)

 
At 8/14/2009 11:43 PM, Blogger Set in the Cleft had this to say ...

Hi Shannon! I enjoyed this post and thought of a mom in our fellowship who waited many long months for her boy to come home. And come home he did, praise God. But she was not settled until then.

Sorry to hear of the poor mouse :( I once had a mouse hitch a ride with me and he ended up on my windshield! Quite a surprise for my carload!

I am looking forward to the Ca. Pastor Wives' Conference. Are you teaching again? If so, I will be in your class!

 
At 9/10/2009 6:00 PM, Blogger JanuskieZ had this to say ...

Hi... Looking ways to market your blog? try this: http://bit.ly/instantvisitors

 
At 9/19/2009 4:34 PM, Blogger Faith Imagined had this to say ...

This was so enjoyable!

 
At 9/24/2009 2:57 PM, Anonymous Pam D. had this to say ...

Hi Shannon, I've been missing your posts and realized that I hadn't checked here for a long time. Still looks like you are busy with other writing. But your entry here (even tho old) gave me a needed boost. Lots of stress on various levels these days, so I look for uplifting stories etc. Just wanted to comment on the soy drink. I used to eat a lot of soy products because they are good for heart etc. But I ended up with uterine cancer and doctors can't really tell me if soy might've upped my estrogen too much (cancer was estrogen fed). God delivered me from cancer with just a hysterectomy, but since I'm unsure if soy played a part, I avoid it now to any great level (it's a minor ingredient added in foods to some degree, but I don't worry about that.) Anyway, just thought I'd pass that on. I'm leery of plant-based estrogens now because no one can seem to give a definite answer. Hope all is going well! Enjoy the beauty of fall -- God always lifts my heart in this season with His beauty all around us!

 

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