A sense of foreboding seemed to permeate even the fickle Spring weather, normally-accepted clouds now suggesting a dark theme to the day. The gray-blue underbelly of the overcast was doing its best to browbeat the Spring songbirds.
The birds were unimpressed.
Their raucous joy fed Granger’s own soul, still dismayed at the sudden, tragic events of yesterday. As he sat thinking while his faithful coffeemaker burbled a fresh pot of Italian roast his ruminations were interrupted by a herd of hurried feet on the stairs outside his office door.
“Come on in; the coffee’s fresh.” He’d purposefully left the door slightly ajar, anticipating a visit.
Granger was friendly with everyone who allowed him to be. He formed close friendships sparingly, knowing one has many acquaintances but only a few close friendships during a lifetime. One of those enduring friends was a frequent visitor to his office. Arlough by this time rated his pick of chairs which was always the one closest to the coffee.
He wasn’t alone. Through the door behind him came a stocky American Indian woman of indeterminate age, long salt-and-pepper hair gathered neatly in a large single braid. Granger had known of Raven Wing through Arlough’s description but had yet to meet her. She was plainly but neatly dressed. Her face was still and her gaze as she scanned the room was sharp with interest. A slight movement to the corner of her mouth gave an amused mien to her features as she saw the small fireplace and the dreamcatcher hanging on the mantel above it.
Granger raised his glance to see Dickerson bob his head to clear the door frame as he came in. A combat-decorated war vet, ‘Sparks’ was a recent Christian, struggling with the combined effects of posttraumatic stress disorder and how to confront Evil while growing in his faith. As a reserve sheriff’s deputy, Dickerson saw much of the former and its ugly effects.
When all had coffee and were seated, Granger took a deep breath and looked at Arlough. The quirky engineer half-grinned.
Dickerson reached into a front pocket of his Wranglers, pulled out a crumpled 5 dollar bill and wordlessly handed it to Arlough. Amused, Granger glanced at Raven Wing. Expressionless, she said, “At least you are bright enough to buy one with eagle feathers instead of owl.”
Granger smiled at that. He figured the Indian woman would be worth knowing. Still, he silently waited knowing Arlough would be unable to stay quiet for long.
Heaving a big sigh, Arlough began. “Okay. You know what happened yesterday in Boston right at the end of the marathon, right?”
Granger, face now bleak, nodded. “Yes, of course.”
“We’re talking just plain EVIL, man. Horrid, ugly, writhing, brutally-sudden fully-intentional EVIL disrupting the normal flow of everybody’s lives!”
“That’s a very apt description. That’s exactly the intent.”
Granger cocked his head slightly to the side. “Well, what?”
“Whadda we do?”
“What would you normally be doing tomorrow had the bombing never happened?”
Arlough’s eyebrows slowly went to half-staff, then slowly began toward each other. “Well, I’d be getting a little more done on the microbiotics presentation. And—”
Granger turned to Dickerson. “And you?”
The young man thought for a few seconds. “I need to go for a final refit on my prosthetic foot in the morning. Then I expect I’ll be on patrol somewhere in the county.”
Granger nodded. Turning toward Raven Wing, she answered without prompting.
“I have several home counseling appointments with clients scattered throughout the day. They’re pretty far apart so some of that time will be taken up by travel.”
Granger looked at each of the three momentarily then said, “Do that. Certainly, be aware of who and what is around you. Be aware of your surroundings – ‘situational awareness’, it’s called – but do not allow Evil to needlessly disrupt and control your time and decisions. Be aware of Evil’s reality without letting it do what it most wants: to interrupt your life and usurp your time in ways you don’t want.”
They were all quiet as they thought about his suggestion. Granger went on.
“Edmund Burke was an uncommonly wise Irish statesman. He said once, “Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”
“The persons responsible for any act of senseless violence that terrorizes others is never free, no matter how they may view themselves or how ennobling they may see their cause. No matter the tool they use to destroy people and property, they’re all alike. They want to control your thinking through fear, and your living through threat. You destroy that end as you recognize them for the bullies and cowards they are and refuse to allow them any say over your daily schedule or activities.”
“When you do what you’d normally be doing, refusing to cower and whimper, you remove any ability they have to influence you. So. Do tomorrow whatever you’d normally be doing had the bombing never happened. And as much as you can, do it with a sense of purpose and joy!”
The fire snapped its fiery fingers over some hedge apple wood as they sat considering Granger’s words.
“What if it’s discovered that the persons responsible had a righteous beef and nobody would listen?” Raven Wing was in a position to hear many such complaints. It was a fair question.
“F. Scott Fitzgerald said in The Great Gatsby that ‘The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.’ Civilized people don’t behead or blow into sticky morsels anyone who doesn’t agree with them. It’s one reason we have elected officials to represent us at the municipal, state and national levels. It’s also why we have Internet news outlets in addition to the mainstream media. Know your stuff and speak up often enough and someone will have to listen. But in the current environment, blowing the legs and arms off of people you don’t even know is guaranteed to have a chilling effect to any effort to redress grievances–even if they’re legitimate.”
Arlough was still bothered. “But what defense is there against creeps like that who sneak around hurting defenseless people?”
“Let me just give you some authoritative references about Evil. Look up the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk and read what he had to say. Pretty amazing, actually, to know this is nothing new. Check out Luke 4:33-37. And Ephesians 5:1-17. Top that off with Romans chapter 12. Go read those for yourself and think about how they bear on the whole issue of the existence of Evil and what we’re to do about it. Then come back and we’ll discuss it.”
Dickerson glanced at his watch, did a double-take and said, “Wow, I’ve gotta get going anyway.” He reached for a pen laying on Granger’s desk and began jotting the references down. Granger said, “I thought you might want these for later and took the liberty of writing them down.” He handed Dickerson and Arlough each one.
Raven Wing said, “I’ll copy theirs. I would like to discuss this more.”
Granger said, “Of course. You are always welcome here.”
On his way out the door, Arlough said, “Hey, Granger? What was the deal about eagle and owl feathers and stuff?”
Granger smiled and said, “Go home and Google ‘dreamcatchers’.”
2nd Cupper, there’s much to be learned about how others think and why they create the things they do. There is a rich diversity among us in the finest possible sense of that word, regardless of how a political correctness movement gone totally bonkers has distorted its actual definitions.
God has ways of doing things that often use people and means none of us would fathom. It’s why He’s in charge and we’re to show up and serve.
He knows and sees where we cannot. We must rest in that assurance, caring for and about one another, and standing together in as many positive ways as we can find against the Evil that some men do.
Tragedy happens to you; atrocities and outrages are perpetrated against you. The difference between tragedy and atrocity is measured in evil. — John Hayward
Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have. ~Norman Vincent Peale
(c) April 2013