Walking down Galena Blvd was always a “Take your life in your own hands” kind of walk. If it wasn’t the cars whizzing past as if the very demons from hell were after them, it was the drug dealers on the street corners or the gang bangers walking around as if they owned the whole darned town…then again maybe they did.
My neighbor's son was back from Iraq and told some really horrible stories about what had gone on down there. It made me angry that so many had lost their lives in that war.
I hate war, but right now I wished I had the tools and the people available to wage war on the trash controlling my neighborhood. The kids next door sold crack, weed, whatever they could acquire and they did it openly. Calling the cops did no good; they never bothered to show up.
Little Mick got told off by his mom about selling it from their house so he walked over and sat on my front porch and started selling it from there. Whenever I’d go out to get the mail he’d glare at me and gesture with his head that I should get inside; I wasn't so stupid that I was gonna argue with him, but out of defiance I'd take my time, wave at people walking by and slowly turn around and go in. He'd swear and growl under his breath the entire time; if I hadn't known better I would have thought he was possessed.
Four weeks into it and I'd had just about enough. I called my son, Daniel and told him what was going on and how long it had been going on; first he let me have it for not saying something sooner, then very quietly said not to worry he'd take care of it.
Sunday was my favorite day of the week. I got to get out of the neighborhood and go to church in another town. I loved spending time with my church family, singing, praying and listening to the message. It always refreshed me and gave me the energy I needed to be able to handle the week ahead. Dreading coming home I prayed and asked God to give me one peaceful Sunday. I arrived and found my lawn had been mowed, everything swept up and there was no one on my front porch. I gave God thanks for the brief respite and went inside to take a nap.
The new week dawned and my first thought, instead of thanking God for the blessing of a new day, was about what I’d be facing this week. Putting my music on full blast I sang loudly while I cleaned the house. I heard the clang of the mailbox and my heart fluttered slightly as I made my way to the front door. The mailman handed me the mail with a cheery grin, whistling as he walked away; a glance to the left assured me Little Mick was back on his porch. He looked down quickly, but not fast enough to hide the fear in his eyes and then quietly said, “Hey Señora, you need any help with anything you let me know, I promised el Jefe I’d look out for you. By the way, I mowed your lawn for you ayer (yesterday). You might mention it to el Jefe (the boss).”
I had no idea what he was talking about. What Jefe!!? Calling my son I was practically shouting in his ear, “Mijo, ¿en el nombre Santo de Dios que hiciste?!?!?” “Son, what in God’s Holy name did you do?!?!?”
“Madrecita cálmate! Esto no es bueno para su corazón!”, “Mami, calm down! This isn't good for your heart!?” He spoke softly to me until I’d calmed down.
“Mijo, what’s going on? And what jefe is Little Mick talking about?” I started crying. I told him about the fear I’d seen in Little Mick’s eyes.
“Mami, do you remember when I got involved with el Ministerio Nueva Esperanza (New Hope Ministry)? I didn’t know what I was doing or how I was going to do it; I just knew that this is what God wanted me to do. We prayed together and you asked God to give me strength, wisdom and courage and to direct me where He would,” I could hear the soft music in the background as he sighed wearily.
“Mami, I’m fighting a war here. The cops fight the drug and gang war in one way and I have to fight it in another. Someway; somehow God has made it possible for me to communicate with the gangs. I was afraid at first, but that verse you were always quoting to me, 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind,” reminded me that I had to rely on God to help me through that fear. I know there’s a better way to fight this war and I’m doing it.”
He talked for a long time about meeting el Jefe a few months back, while walking the neighborhood. El Jefe hadn't appreciated him talking to his people and had threatened him, but Daniel kept going back and had started taking his lunch break in the park where the Demonio's (Demons) hung out. The first two times they’d taken his food and thrown it away and when that didn't work they’d smashed it in his face. He’d gone back with double the lunch and had offered them some. El Jefe had pointed a gun to his head and asked him if he wanted to meet his maker. Although he was afraid he felt like God was offering him an opportunity to start sharing and a puzzled and frustrated Jefe had finally sat down and listened. He knew that he was alive only by God’s grace.
El Jefe said he didn't want anything to do with God, but had started sending his little sisters to church and when he’d heard what was happening with the next-door neighbors, he’d paid Little Mick a visit. He hadn't threatened him, just told him to stay off my porch and show me respect.
“Sometimes, I get through to them and sometimes I don’t. I get discouraged, but then one of the guys will show up and want to talk and I know that is God’s way of encouraging me,” his voice grew husky.
We finished talking and I hung up the phone and leaning my head against the wall I started to cry again, this time from shame praying that God would protect my son.
When my son had been born, shortly after my husband’s death, I’d made a promise to God that I would give Daniel over into His service the way Hannah had given Samuel. I’d wanted him to have a safe life, no gangs or drugs, but serving God had taken him in that direction anyway.
I’d made promises to God as well, but I’d forgotten myself and had wanted to hurt the drug dealers, the gang members; anyone else who hurt la gente (the people) in my neighborhood. It had taken my son to bring me back to the realization that I wasn't serving God as I’d promised.
This war needed fighting, but not with anger or retribution. I talked to God and told Him I would rest in His promise for my life; I would go into this war armed with His Word.
I baked cookies and made tamales, then armed with my Bible and the basket, I walked out to join Daniel for lunch as my iPod played Rest in His Promise.
Rest In His Promise
Words and Music by David Ruis
When the sun’s brightly shining When the wars and the rumors
And it’s touching my face Are encircling the earth
And Your favor is resting And Your judgments are falling
And it seems all is grace And there’s no where to turn
I will lift up my eyes I will lift up my eyes
And give glory to Your name And give glory to Your name
And I’ll rest in Your promise And I’ll rest in Your promise
Over me Over me
When the sunlight has faded, You are sovereign, Lord
And the darkness my friend You are holy, Lord
And the sorrows are rolling You are faithful, Lord
and the suffering just won’t end
I will lift up my eyes When the heaven’s are opened
And give glory to Your name And You ride like the wind
And I’ll rest in Your promise And Your kingdom of justice
Over me It will come without end
I will rest in Your promise I will lift up my eyes
Over me And give glory to Your name
And I’ll rest in Your promise
I will rest in Your promise
©2003 Vineyard Songs Canada (Admin. by Music Services)
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
CCLI song #4211653
Written for Blue Bell Books Twitter Club: Thursday Short Story Slam Week 29: Dramas and Freedom at: http://bluebellbooks.blogspot.com/2012/10/thursday-short-story-slam-week-29.html
Hyde Park Thursday Poets Rally Week 75 (October 18 - October 24, 2012) at: http://promisingpoetsparkinglot.blogspot.com/2012/10/hyde-park-thursday-poets-rally-week-75.html
Tropical Toxic Art Illustrated By Asaf and Tomer Hanuka