DANIEL OF THE YEAR | In Honduras, many residents feel trapped by poverty, violence, and addiction. Michael Miller has spent two decades hitting the streets and devoting his life to some of the country’s youngest and most vulnerable
If you wish to walk the straight and narrow and not end your life by reaping the whirlwind, hearken to my tale of woe.
Charles had known many women, but Claudia was the apple of his eye. Just standing on the corner of her street till she might appear through her front door, he was in paradise. Claudia was his pearl of great price, and he wanted to proclaim his love from the housetops. He believed that being yoked with her would be heaven.
Unfortunately, Charles’ appeals to the lady fell on stony ground. Claudia considered him a philistine as he did not share her taste in movies like Inherit the Wind and East of Eden, or in books, like The Sun Also Rises and The Grapes of Wrath. Charles’ appetite for deep-fried Oreos (he was a bottomless pit) she considered to be his feet of clay. Also, she found his prominent Adam’s apple unattractive.
Nevertheless, the woman did not reject Charles outright but kept him around for her amusement, never missing an opportunity to lord it over him. She sent him into a veritable lion’s den of dangers to have him prove his love for her. “Would you go to the ends of the earth for me?” she asked. Once he scaled the wall of Longwood Gardens after hours just to pluck a rose of Sharon for her, and escaped only by the skin of his teeth.
Charles and Claudia would go out and raise Cain together. They would eat, drink, and be merry. There is no rest for the wicked.
A friend of Claudia’s rebuked her, calling her charm but a fig leaf for cruelty. One would think this would heap coals on her head, but that Jezebel only replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Indeed, her conscience was seared, as with a hot iron. She turned upon her friend and snapped, “Why don’t you remove the beam from your own eye rather than looking at the speck in mine.” And she gave her the evil eye.
Charles’ appeals to the lady fell on stony ground. Claudia considered him a philistine.
Meanwhile, poverty had come upon Charles like a bandit. A little child saw him sitting on a cardboard crate in a subway station and said, “Hey mister, are you a homeless person?”: “Out of the mouths of babes …,” thought Charles. “This must be the wages of sin. I used to live off the fat of the land, and now I have come to a bitter end. I have sold my birthright for a bowl of potage.” He could see it clear as day.
The day came when the scales fell from Charles’ eyes. He couldn’t take it anymore and decided he would no longer throw pearls before swine. He recognized Claudia as an idol in his life—a major stumbling block keeping him from really living. The prodigal had come to his senses. Could he get back on his feet and recoup the years that the locusts had eaten? It was the eleventh hour; was it too late for Charles? Would this dissolution be his cross to bear forever? Was his fate now written in stone?
A good Samaritan came by on his way to the 6:40 train and noticed Charles looking as if he were about to give up the ghost. The commuter invited him home with him and killed the fatted calf, so to speak. At first Charles, being a doubting Thomas, wondered what the stranger’s angle was, but the man turned out to be a real salt-of-the-earth guy. As for Claudia, she was heard muttering, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
Finding herself spurned, Claudia started pursuing Charles—because forbidden fruit is sweet. But he said to her, “Huh, you thought you walked on water? How the mighty have fallen.” He departed, and would never fall from grace again.
So ends my made-up morality tale, cobbled of random Scripture shards like the last scene of the film The Usual Suspects. Every sentence in it has an allusion to the Bible—there are 57 in all. But when the Son of Man returns, will he find the basic Bible literacy that any American a hundred years ago possessed?