“A Modern Day Parable”
By Richard Gazowsky
Her name was Caroline, and she was blessed with shocking red hair that flowed in the wind like a parade of children’s flags. But the parade field she was marching across was America’s most prestigious military prep school. She had been chosen to be enrolled there despite her low-class Irish beginnings. Today it was all coming to a head for they were marching across the parade field to take the final exam, which would decide whether she would be accepted in West Point or not.
Caroline giggled to herself as she remembered what a shock it was to her father and mother that she was even going to a prep school. Her father had emigrated from Ireland and had experienced the rough life of an Irish immigrant. But eventually, through hard knocks and obeying the law, he elevated himself up to the stature of a San Francisco police officer. Her mother was another story. She was raised in the streets of the city and became a drug addict at an early age. But then she fell in love with the officer who had arrested her.
One hot night in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco that love had given them Caroline. Their love remained and grew and eventually they married. The redeeming factor in the life of Caroline’s mother was Jesus Christ. Her mother went to a charismatic church where she received the Holy Spirit and she subsequently taught Caroline the benefits of living with Jesus. Yes, Caroline believed it was because of her mother introducing her to Jesus Christ that sent her on her current journey that led to this nationally famous school.
Ever since Caroline was a little girl she would sit with her mother in church and dream about becoming a princess who would marry a prince and live forever after in a beautiful castle. And now her childhood dream was actually coming to pass through the reality she was living! There were so many miracles that brought her to where she was today. She was thankful for her father’s strong discipline and Catholic Irish background, and her mother’s belief in miracles that the impossible could always occur through God. But she also knew that her parents did not know about the biggest miracle that was happening, even now in the prep school, which was bigger than anyone in her family could have imagined.
She met him the second week after she enrolled in school. She did not know whom he was (though she would soon find out) and that he was the answer to every girl’s dream in America. But she could not stop her initial impression that he was from the upper class of society. He seemed so untouchable, even though he wore the standard uniform of the school. As Caroline sat alone in her private times she would often dream of one day meeting someone like him. But the thought was only for a brief wishful moment and it would pass away like a wistful idea in the wind. The thing that sat like a magnet to the thoughts of her mind was that first chance meeting ~ just like her dreams ~ followed by a brief moment of talking in the hallway. She could still sense his manly smell as he casually made remarks about her inquisitive questions.
He was tall, handsome, had a warm inviting face (highlighted by hazel green eyes), and welcoming words from inviting lips. Caroline remembered that in their first conversation, casually held in the school hallway, he had used the word “blessed” instead of “luck”, like so many other boys did. But the statement that really put a strong foundation in her thinking about him was when he closed their conversation with, “God bless you.” Caroline felt that whoever he was, he was way out of her social class. Yet if he loved Jesus like she did, at least on this one point they would be perfectly equal. Her mother and father had often told her that the Bible teaches that she must be “equally yoked” with the person she married.
Weeks later Caroline discovered who the young man was. He was Sebastian, the first son of the president of the United States. As might be expected this revelation changed everything in her mind, and she was having a hard time with the feelings that were still in her heart from that first meeting. But these already deep-felt emotions changed the night of the prep school swimming party. Because of her conservative religious upbringing she had never been in a public swimming pool, let alone wear a bathing suit.
The swimming party was going to be a very different experience for her because she believed she was not supposed to turn down the invitation. She had taken an extra amount of time for private prayer on the question if she should attend. To her amazement Jesus not only told her to go to the party, but to wear a really nice bikini He had her purchase earlier. What played out that night was similar to what happened to the ancient Biblical Queen Esther and her meeting with King Ahaserxus ~ Esther’s “One night with the king.”
Caroline entered the hall that housed the swimming pool, in the middle of a group of girls who were laughing joyously. But even through the din she noticed Sebastian’s attention was in her direction. The young men at the party then bemusedly asked the girls to do a fashion show before they dove into the warm water of the pool. The girls were embarrassed, but being caught up in the revelry of the moment tossed away their towels and in single file ran and dove into the pool. Caroline was the second to the last in line and was red with embarrassment, yet she knew she was being required to do the same as the other girls.
But just before her time came something wonderful happened. In the flash of a moment she caught Sebastian’s eyes and there was such warmth, compassion, and understanding in his look, that she suddenly felt strangely comfortable. It was like, for that brief moment, a true friend was watching her. She dove into the pool and when she surfaced, Sebastian was in the water right beside her with a dry towel, and he gently helped her out of the pool. He was so careful to make sure that she was appropriately covered. They then sat together, she with her feet in the water, and talked like old friends.
The evening went by quickly and nightfall found his arm around her shoulder, bringing warmth to her chilled body. As they walked along and then parted at the door of the girl’s dressing room, something occurred in Caroline’s heart that exploded into a mushroom cloud of emotion throughout her entire body. She knew that he was her dream. No matter what the rest of the world was thinking, she felt that at that moment they were equally yoked. For everything they talked about, dreamed about, and wished about, was in the same hunger, rhythm and spirit. Caroline knew that her every dream was coming to pass, but she also saw how impossible it would seem to everyone who knew her…
He had been her best friend through her middle school years. His name was Joe and he had known Caroline since the sixth grade. Yes, Joe was a fellow schoolmate and a good friend ~ but that was all that he was ever going to be. He would constantly and playfully remind her about the Scripture of being equally yoked. Joe felt that he was equal to Caroline. But he was equal to her poverty life of the past ~ and not the dream life of her hopeful future.
Even though Joe was barely out of high school, he was already settled in his ways. He did not want to go anywhere different or do anything new. He just wanted everything to be the same ~ every day, every year. To Joe the purpose of the Christian life was to have better sameness, and to make sure he never caused anybody any trouble or difficulty. Yes, this sounded peaceful, but Caroline was dreaming about adventure and wanted something to catch her life on fire.
Caroline reminisced these thoughts through her mind as her school class finished crossing the elegant parade grounds, then marched up to the advanced testing center where Caroline was to be tested. The class was dismissed and Caroline prepared to enter into the testing area. As she checked her outfit, making sure all was proper, she glanced up and was stunned to see Joe, dressed in a suit and tie, with a serious somber look upon his face as he searched through the cloud of students for Caroline.
Her first impulse was to turn and flee, for only a horrible event would motivate him to come all this way to her school. He probably was bringing a message that would shatter all of her dreams upon the ground. But she stopped herself from running away, for she knew that she would eventually have to face whatever he was going to say. She might as well get it over with as quickly as possible. And she still had to face the ominous test that was waiting for her in the building just behind the spot where Joe was standing…
Caroline, knowing that she must look different after her months of training went up and introduced herself to Joe. Joe stepped back amazed, because she looked so professional and official. He then caught himself, grabbed her in a big bear hug and said, “Don’t worry, my little teddy bear, I’ve got you now.” Immediately Caroline pushed him away. His words rattled her like the coil of a poisonous snake and instantly flashed back hundreds of memories of her past ~ daunting issues that were trying to hold her back from success. Even the sound of Joe’s voice felt like acid burning upon her skin. It caused her to snap back at him in a reflex of emotion. “What are you doing here? I am just getting ready to take a test and the last thing I need right now is for you to bring a distraction.”
“I’m not here to distract you. I am here to save you, save you from hurting yourself.”
“What are you talking about, Joe?” Caroline replied with disgust.
Realizing that he had said the wrong thing, Joe knew he needed to quickly change his tactic before he became an embarrassment in front of all of her classmates. “Caroline, I need to talk to you privately… It’s about your mother and father.” His words hit with a heart-tremoring crunch in her spirit and she suddenly became weak in her legs. She was well aware that her father and mother had been having progressive problems with health issues. Joe quickly got her to step aside. The other classmates, sensing it was a serious moment, ushered them into a vacant classroom. A male student then tapped Caroline gently on the shoulder and said, “Should I get Sebastian?”
Caroline looked at him and held up her hand, but before she could say “No” the young man was gone. Joe, seeing that Caroline was being distracted, grabbed both of her arms to demand her full attention. “Caroline, listen to me! Your father has been taken to the hospital and the doctors feel that he has a blood clot in his heart. At any moment it could dislodge, cause an aneurism in his brain, and he would be dead. And that’s not all. Your mother has cellulitis in her legs and they have wrapped them in heavy bandages. She is in such pain that she can’t even visit your father in the hospital. Your family cannot live another moment without you. This is the voice of God calling you back to your home!”
Caroline suddenly collapsed in a dead faint on the steps of the school. It was Joe’s method of blaming God that had exasperated Caroline to the point of going passing out. She had heard that kind of thing for most of her life. It was always “the reaction that came after a storm” that would steal everything that she had dreamed of from her. Could this be another episode of the reoccurring failures in her life? These thoughts raced through her mind as she began to come out of the fog that was surrounding her while she lay upon the ground in the arms of Joe.
Caroline suddenly blinked her eyes open. But the first face she focused upon was not Joe but Sebastian. Though she was still too weak to speak she could faintly hear Joe’s voice say, “I don’t know who you are, Mister, but my name is Joe and I’m going to marry Caroline. She has been my girlfriend since the sixth grade and I would appreciate it if you would leave and let Caroline and I to work out our future together. You have no right to talk with Caroline.”
Caroline tried to speak, but for some reason the energy was not yet given to her. She watched as Sebastian backed away, embarrassed and unsure of himself. She wanted to scream and punch Joe’s face but she still could not even move her lips. “What is this calamity that has come to me?” she cried inwardly. “Why is it happening now?”
To be continued…….
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Richard Gazowsky pastors a church in San Francisco called A Place To Meet Jesus. He has directed the films, “Guardians” and “The Roman Trilogy.”
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