Trexler Road

ShipOfFools_web_10042015Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy,
he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
(1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV)

Trexler Road

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

My room on Trexler Road backed up to Greenbelt National Park.[1]
It was on the ground floor so I could look out the window
To see the tree line against the stars at night
As I lay in the comfort of my bed.

The night’s darkness set my mind to racing—
Like a doe pursued in the underbrush by a hungry cougar
Or a soldier lost in an unfamiliar jungle and separated from his team.
But, the stars brought me comfort: I was not alone.

The break in tree line against the stars was the key
To walking paths in the woods at night without a flashlight
Except on cloudy nights or when you walk too fast
As I learned later as a counselor in camp.

People do crazy things when they are alone in the park.
The impulse to run in gangs led kids in the neighborhood
To arm themselves with homemade swords and shields
And build forts for protection.

But forts offered little protection.

On summer days, we attacked each other without mercy
Tossing rocks and dirt clods up into the air above roofless forts
And congratulating ourselves on the screams we heard from inside.

Vicious. We were vicious.

On school days, the streets were safe from bullies
Who preferred to pick fights on narrow bridges. [2]
If they challenged you to meet them at the bridge,
Then it was best to take the long way home.

So one day when my parents took me to see a movie at Constitutional Hall [3]
About a gang member[4] who was vicious and got into fights—

I could see myself.

When he bled, I bled.
When he was afraid, I was afraid.
When he finally came to Christ, I came to Christ.

From that day forward,
my fighting days were over.

[1] http://www.nps.gov/gree/learn/nature/index.htm.

[2] Charles Carroll Junior High School, now a middle school, sits on a hill surrounded on three sides by creeks that could be crossed only on fallen trees or, much later, bridges built for students on my end of town.  http://www1.pgcps.org/CharlesCarroll.

[3] The Cross and the Switchblade is a book written in 1962 by Pastor David Wilkerson with John and Elizabeth Sherrill. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cross_and_the_Switchblade).

[4] NickyCruz.org.

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