Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Tar Wagon

What a nifty job, an honor, really. To fill a garden sprinkling can with molten tar and pour it out on the road to help mend it. I watched a man fill the can and pour the tar. I was a little boy and I was fascinated.

Then the wagon was retired. It had become a relic in a sand lot. But not to me and my friend Jimmy. It was an opportunity waiting for us.

Jimmy was from a different world and a different time. He could catch fish with his bare hands. He seemed to know a lot about his world, and not much about the other one. At school, he copied someones test perfectly, even the person's name. His teacher soon understood why she received two tests with the same name.

Why not climb all over the tar wagon? It was crusted with tar. It was so old it had wooden spoked wheels. We climbed the old wagon. No one cared. Then we thought, Why not jump from the top of the wagon into a big sand pile below?

I forget who jumped first. The sand was gentle and forgiving. We jumped with no fear. One challenge remained--jump backwards with your eyes shut. We did this. The big sand pile caught us. We were never hurt.

As a man, Jimmy developed lung cancer. His wife said his last wish was to be baptized. I believe pride kept him from coming to Christ sooner. I had, long ago. One morning he did not wake up. His wife found him dead, a little blood on his pillow. He sleeps in Christ.

Each of us made a bigger leap than from the tar wagon, years ago. We turned from pride, closed our eyes and jumped. Jesus caught us.

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