Sometimes he wondered if he had any control over his life or if he was fated. There were wrong turns of course, they didn’t feel wrong at the time though, just decisions that were made, some in haste.
By Mercedes (email@example.com)
He’d tasted happiness along the way. But it never lasted and he preferred running away from difficulty to digging in and making things work out.
So it was he found himself on this highway at midnight alone but not lonely. He was good company to himself whiling the time away pondering the great mysteries of life. Living outside the circle of work, isolated, forgotten, he found solace in thought.
It was on this Christmas Eve as the world in stillness lay and he on the side of the road a crown of distant stars above, that he had an awakening.
Maybe it was the clear cold air or how he could not see but a few feet in front of him and the sky above unattainable as always that he was suddenly struck with terrible foreboding.
He had gotten used to his vagabond life, relished it even. No worries, no place he had to be no one to tell him what to do or when. Gripped by fear he glanced around him trying to pinpoint the source of this sudden foreign feeling. But it did not come from without, it came from within. A whisper at first, he could barely make out the words or the meaning. He strained to hear. For a moment he thought he was losing it. “Hearing voices am I now? He murmured to himself.
There hadn’t been a car by in an hour. He was prepared to spend the night there. A culvert close by would provide shelter from the dew.
The voice grew audible now. “It’s your turn.” He sat motionless cross legged staring at the ground.
“What do you mean?” He asked the voice. There was no response.
He tugged at the collar of his thin army jacket and pulled it up around his ears.
“Alright!” He almost shouted at the voice. “This is getting crazy!”
He stood up and looked up and down the highway. It didn’t matter any longer which way a passing car was headed, he wanted to get moving, or at least hear another human voice, a real voice coming from a real person.
But there was nothing to be seen in either direction except the double yellow line down the middle of the road.
He started walking. Maybe he would come upon a farmhouse. Being Christmas Eve surely they would not turn him away.
Still no cars passed. Only the sound of his boots hitting the pavement let him know he was alive. The voice remained silent.
He lost track of time but kept walking, drawn down the road by his old friend Huck. That is the name he gave the urge to run that always came to him when the going got tough.
At last he heard a car. It was coming up from behind him. He whirled around and began waving his arm. He was desperate to be seen. But the car passed then slowed and backed up. A rush of relief surged through him. The passenger side window rolled down and a swarthy man in a shiny passion purple silk shirt called out, “You lost, my friend?”
The hitchhiker thought about that for a second. He knew where he was on the planet but where he was in his life was a different matter.
The car pulled out and the swarthy man introduced his two companions. “We’re the Royals. That’s Frank, I’m Murray and the man behind the wheel is…”
The man behind the wheel turned and nodded at the hitchhiker, “You can call me Goldie.
Swarthy was a talker. They were a gospel group that had just finished a gig in the next county. They knew these back roads like Hershey knows chocolate. They had played every high school auditorium, every church every place anyone one wanted to hear some righteous rhythms of the Good News in the Gospels.
“We’re just following our star, you know?”Everyone has a star they are destined to follow.” Swarthy concluded then turned around to the hitchhiker in the back seat and asked.
“What’s your star, my friend, where are you headed?”
“I’m still looking for my star…I guess.”
“Everybody gets his turn. You got to pay attention, watch for the signs. The Lord works in mysterious ways. Your purpose does not get plastered up on a billboard … He likes to sneak up on you, surprise you. And He’ll always give you one last chance.”
“One last chance.” That is what the voice told him … One last chance.
They had turned off the main highway. After following a dirt road for a ways Goldie slowed the car down and then stopped. The hitchhiker could make out very little in the dark. He did not ask where they were or what they were doing there. His gratitude overruled his curiosity.
The three Royals got out of the car. “You stay here,” Swarthy advised him.
The hitchhiker obliged for a time anyway. Goldie, Frank and Murray walked slowly toward pool of light just ahead. He heard the bleating of a lamb and thought it odd it would be up and awake at this hour.
At last, he could not contain his curiosity. He cautiously opened the car door and noiselessly crept forward toward the light.
As he drew closer he could see the three Royals kneeling with heads bowed. A burro too nearby and an OX stood silently in the circle of light that poured out onto the road.
The hitchhiker’s heart began to pound so loud inside his chest, he was afraid it could be heard. But no one turned around so he moved in closer.
His first glimpse of the Baby Jesus knocked the breath out of him. He had seen this tableau depicted countless times during his life. Nothing came close to the real thing. He held his breath not wanting to disturb Mary or Joseph. But he did not run. He was riveted to the spot, for how long he never knew.
That Christmas Eve is long past. The hitchhiker found his way back. It did not happen instantly but as life goes, one step leads to another. Before he knew it he reunited with his family. Old friends came back into his life. They would ask him. “What happened to you? You are so different now.”
He would simply reply, “I found Jesus.”
Knowing his past, they would laugh at first.
Then he would repeat, “No, really. I really did find Jesus.”
He could help but smile to himself.