A Killing Snow at Easter
Christ's resurrection overcame death.
Friday, April 4, 2014
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My high school buddy, Dale, and I clipped along the northern Indiana country road in my VW bug. Falling snow cut like tiny darts through my headlights. Here it was, almost Easter, and the weather acted like it was a Midwestern Christmas. Cold, killing snow in spring—the season of life.
Then we saw him: a shadowy figure standing alongside the road. "Hitchhiker," Dale and I said at about the same time. I shifted quickly into third and then second. With a jerk, the VW cut speed and I pulled onto the shoulder of the road and stopped. The hitchhiker was nowhere to be found. Had we time to think, we might have thought we'd seen a Christmas angel lost in the confused seasons. But before visions and vanishing apparitions hijacked our imaginations, my headlights caught someone veering off the shoulder of the road and into the darkness of a snow-covered field.
We got out. We encouraged the reluctant hitchhiker to get of the cold, accept a ride. When we were about ready give up and leave, the mysterious figure emerged from the field and reentered the glow of my headlights. It was a boy, around 12 or 13 years old. I don't recall what Dale and I said to convince him to join us, but he ended up climbing into the backseat.
We started on our journey again, with the snow, once more, cutting through the headlights. The "hitchhiker"—I don't remember his name, so I'll just call him Steve—told us he was running away from his foster parents. They were mean to him. They made him wash dishes. So, he had taken off for Michigan to live with some family there. Steve, it was safe to assume, was mentally challenged.
When he ended his rant against his foster family, Steve told us he had wanted to carry the cross but they wouldn't let him. The cross? They? Any earlier doubts about Steve's limited mental capacity faded as he described his strange religious fantasy. Yet as Steve rambled, intensely rambled, I remember a bunch of religious types I'd seen earlier that day. They were marching down Main Street of my hometown. One of them was dragging a seven- or eight-foot cross made of light-colored varnished wood. Their faces were solemn as the marched in silence.
Nobody stopped to watch. Nobody cared about anything but getting home to a warm house. Nobody was interested in the little march down Main Street. Nobody, that is, except Steve. Steve had been there. Steve, an adolescent who talked more like a 5-year-old, who hated washing dishes. Steve, who probably couldn't read or do simple math problems, let alone understand heady theological truths. He had been there, and he had wanted to carry the cross.
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