The Meeting Place

As I sat alone on the park bench, the dreariness of the overcast day only added to my hurt and bitterness. Surely no other individual had ever experienced the kind of low point that I had sunk into. It was as though I had fallen into a deep crevasse, with no rescue available.

A feeling of hopelessness enclosed me, as I reflected upon all the deficits in my life. All the failures, financial and emotional, paraded themselves before me as haunting reminders of the misery of my life. All the financial debts that I had incurred; all the broken promises to loved ones and friends were there taunting me. It was as though each were shouting, “You are a miserable failure; and that is all you will ever be.”

My watery eyes scanned the park area around the bench were I sat, buried in my despair; I saw no other person anywhere in the park. It was as though I was completely alone in my self-inflicted darkness. I lowered my head and covered my misty eyes with trembling hands. I remember thinking: I cannot continue my life this way…I’m completely at the end of myself! It was at this moment that my life was to completely change forever!

For some reason, I uncovered my eyes, and looked around; I had the strongest sense of someone’s presence. I was startled to see a man sitting on the bench beside me.

He was dressed in average manner; nothing to indicate affluence. He just sat and looked at me for what seemed an eternity before he spoke to me. I did not hear his first words, as my mind was trying to decide whether he was real, or just the apparition of a desperate man’s mind.

He was speaking again, and I could clearly hear him saying, “I’ve been looking for you.”

“Who are you? Where did you come from? Why are you looking for me," I asked?

“I will answer your last question; the others will answer themselves,” he said. “I have been looking for you because you have not looked for me; and because I have something you need.”

I sat for what seemed a long time, just looking into his deeply penetrating eyes. I could not find words to speak; I felt fear, and yet, I had no urge to take flight from my place on the cold, hard, wooden park bench. It was as though I was glued to the spot! More fear gripped me when his right hand went into his inside coat pocket. I truly expected that his hand would next appear holding a gun or knife! Still, I did not feel the necessity to run.

When he withdrew his hand from the coat pocket, it held not a weapon, but a light-blue, rectangular pad. The pad had writing on it. He held it toward me, and I realized that the “pad” was a checkbook.

“I have wanted to give this to you,” he said, in the most kind, gentle voice that I had ever heard.

“What is this,” I replied?

“In First Bank, here in your city, I have created an account in your name, and I have deposited an adequate sum in it. The amount is enough to cover all your debts, public and private, for the past, present, and the rest of your life.”

I truly believed that I was seeing a ghost sitting here before me; but I was hearing his voice also. He must have understood my anxiety, because, he placed the checkbook on the bench between us, and gently placed his right hand on my shoulder. I should have been frightened, but instead, a sense of extreme peace and calmness washed over my whole being.

“I am not here to frighten you, son. My desire is to give you access to this account, which I have created for you at First Bank.”

So, he is real all right, I thought; a real fruitcake, a real prankster. This is all a real joke.

“Look…whoever you are. I have enough painful troubles of my own; I don’t have the time or the energy to entertain you. So, just go your way and leave me to my misery!”

“But son, it is your misery and despair that has brought me here. I have come to set you free from all of it.”

“Ok, mystery man, what’s the catch,” I asked? “What must I do to receive this ‘great benefit’ that you would bestow upon me?”

“There is no catch. This sum I would give to you is a free gift; all you must do is accept what I have done for you”

“I can’t believe this, mister. No one has that kind of power…the power to forgive all debts, past, present, and future.”

I turned my face away from him, thinking that when again I looked, he would have faded into the cold mist of the afternoon. I turned and he was still there looking at me…more intensely now, as I distinctly heard his reply: “ALL POWER HAS BEEN GIVEN TO ME!”

When I came to myself, I was kneeling on the ground beside “my” park bench. As my eyes opened, small, but sure rays of sunshine were breaking through the mist of the overcast day. There was something in my right hand; a checkbook…His checkbook! I began to page through the checks. Every one of the checks were made out to me and signed: Your Father.

James A. Henson (C) 2002

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