From my personal blog, originally published April 10, 2009. Thought I'd re-publish it today since Easter is right around the corner. Hope you enjoy!
One Man's Trash is Another's...
He knew early in the day that this particular evening would be dictating against him. For one, it would be a full moon. His movements would have to be even more calculated – quieter. Next, the city's festivities brought in people from far and wide - the city would be full to the brim. More eyes to see him with.
He elected to proceed anyway, arriving at that conclusion primarily for one reason. He was good. And not just pretty good. “One of the best” a colleague had recently described him.
But this night something was wrong. This entire night had been one strange event after another. No, event was not the right word. More like one strange experience after another. The moon was there, yes. An added person here and there, yes. But something was amiss. His timing was off. His reflexes slower. No, not slower, just…off. “What the hell am I saying,” he muttered to himself. “I can’t even speak the right way.”
As he waited in the darkness pondering his next move, he thought back to the words of his old mentor. “If your intuition tells you something is not right, then it’s probably not…let it go…there will be other marks...other nights.” He smiled for a moment as he thought about the man that had filled such a huge void in his life. It was not surprising that he was available for such a man to enter his life. He never knew his father and he “lost” his mother when he was 8 years old. At least that’s what relatives had told him. The faint memories he had of his mother were not fond ones. She seemed to always be unhappy during the times she was around, which became increasingly less often as he got older. As he sat in the darkness, he understood that he had long ago resigned himself to the probability that his mother had probably “lost” him instead of the other way around. And probably not by accident.
His intuition was clear. And although there were more riches to come as the night grew into the early morning, he elected to take his limited spoils of the evening and go home. As he stood up he heard, and felt, a thud. The pain to the back of his head was immediate and intense. Tears came to his eyes and blurred his vision as his knees buckled and hit the cobblestone of the alley. Someone grabbed his hair and two men pulled him to his feet. That was the last thing he remembered as he slipped into unconsciousness.
He awoke on the hard, cold, dusty floor of a jail cell. His head throbbed with pain. He touched the back of his head and felt dried blood on top of a huge knot. Looking around him, he could see that his cellmates had received similar treatment. He sat up, knees to his chest with his arms around them. His back was against a stone wall, opposite of the cell door.
As he sat there pondering his predicament his thoughts strayed to his mother. And immediately an intense anger welled up inside of him. Even though he knew his coming fate, he somehow still wanted to direct anger towards her. He was bemused as he realized the futility of such wasted emotion at a time like this.
And as for his father? “Hmmph,” he spat to himself. The rumors had always swirled that his father abandoned him before he was ever born. He always had a suspicion that his father knew who he was - but just didn't care enough to try to mend the wound of leaving all those years ago.
As he thought about his "parents", he whispered, “Well, what do you two think of your boy now? Proud of what you created?" He shook his head slowly as a disgusted smirk developed on his face. "You’re both trash," he muttered to himself. He realized his voice had raised and others were starting to stare. He turned toward a corner of the cell to avoid eye contact. He could feel tears welling up in his eyes. After a few moments he muttered, “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Trash plus trash is only going to equal one thing…more trash.” He thought for a moment longer. A tear streamed down his cheek. “I wish...” he said. But he couldn’t finish. There was simply nothing else to say or do. There would be no wishes granted on this day. Especially for a man that had wasted his life - and he knew it.
He sat in silence for a long time. After awhile, he heard several guards coming down the hall. One of them opened the cell door. “Everyone up. Form a line.”
The feeling of impending doom was overwhelming. So was the sense of fear. He had never been so scared in his life.
As he got in line he began to realize just how much he had enjoyed his work. It was his craft and he loved it. The joy he would feel during a theft was real. Palpable. He could feel adrenaline start to shoot through his body just at the thought of it. He allowed himself a brief smile.
But the smile quickly faded as his thoughts returned to his current plight. And to the realization that he would never know that joy again. For the first time in his life he had nothing to look forward to. This knowledge heightened his despair, which served only to add more weight to his already painful burden.
And oh what a burden it was. It was worse than he could have ever imagined. Try as he might, he could not get the pain out of his head. There was nothing he could think about that would help it. He thought of his mentor. That was only fleeting comfort as the pain returned with even more intensity. He tried to draw up his anger at his parents. Same result.
This was indescribable. Death would truly be welcome, even though it would mean the end of all that he knew. The tears were free flowing now. Some from pain. Some from despair.
All from hopelessness.
He could feel himself passing out as he was raised into the air. He hoped it would be over soon. The end could not come soon enough.
As he was about to pass into unconsciousness, he heard a voice. It was a voice he had heard back in the cell. It was a voice of distaste and nastiness. It was the voice of someone with a heart that had died long ago. He listened to this man’s words for quite a while. After all, he had no choice given their close proximity.
The distasteful man had been mocking the man that was in between them for the past few minutes. The distasteful man finally said to the in-between man “So you say you are the Messiah? Well, do something. Save us! What kind of king would leave us here to rot and die?!"
This was the last straw. He summoned enough strength to raise his head and open his eyes. He looked past the cross that in-between man was hanging from, and looked distasteful man squarely in the eyes and said “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, you and I have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” He then looked at in-between man, and with all the remorse in his heart said “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” His head dropped from exhaustion.
But he could see that in-between man was saying something to him. He could not move his head, but his eyes looked toward in-between man. And with an intensity and clarity that was razor sharp, in-between man said “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
And with that, he closed his eyes and his head drooped. He could feel his strength waning. He knew it would not be long now until the last spark of life would leave him.
But he could feel his face forming an ever so slight smile. The feeling of hopelessness was fading. An inexplicable feeling of, could it be joy?, began to rise within him. For a fleeting moment, he did not understand what was happening.
But then it all became clear.
He was on his way to see his one true parent. The parent that had been there all along. The parent that would never leave or abandon him.
The Father that he never knew.