Monday, May 01, 2006


Spirit and Will

You're sitting out on your front porch, talking with a friend. Afternoon sunlight slants in along the street, under the trees. A breeze moves the branches languidly and a few bright clouds float slowly by, way up there.

There's a rattle of diesel noise, growing. Then it stops, and a loud hiss announces its parking. The driver gets out of his truck and walks over to you.
"Oh, good. You're home. I have a delivery for you."
"Me?" you ask.
He hands you the waybill. Your friend watches, bemused. "Is that your name? The address checks. I don't drive around in this truck just for fun, you know."
"Yes, that's me. But the biggest thing I ordered was a computer a while back."
"This is lots bigger than a computer. Well, sign for it and I'll get it off the truck. It's yours, buddy."

The truck restarts with a buzz and a clatter. Not a Jimmy, you think. Sounds more like a Cat. Not smooth enough to be a Cummins. Then there are various hydraulic noises: the liftgate going up and down, and an electric whir.
"Well, I guess I'd better go and see what this is. If it requires a powered pallet mover it must be serious."

And it is big. The truck driver maneuvers the electric mule around.
"Where do you want it?"
"I guess in the driveway. Can't leave it in the street. How am I even going to unpack it?"
The driver smiles. "Not my problem." He hauls the big crate over to your driveway, lowers it, and moves the mule away. You hand him the signed waybill.
"Thanks, buddy. Enjoy your new whatever!" He quickly puts the mule back in the truck and buttons everything up. Just before the door closes, you see the truck has several more crates inside, and they all look just like yours.
"Sorry, Mac. Gotta go." He releases the brakes and takes off. Silence returns to the neighborhood, in which you hear the whispers of curtains being dropped back into place. Everyone on the block knows about this thing, you think.

You and your friend walk around the crate. Stenciled on the sides are "This way up," with an arrow pointing, fortunately, up.
"At least they got that right."
You look suspiciously at your friend. "You, um, didn't have something to do with this?"
"Not me. Never seen one before. And look. It has your address, but no return address."
"You're right. Well, how am I going to find out what's inside?"
"Got a crowbar?"
"What's that?"
"For driving brads."
"Hopeless. I'll go get one of mine. Be back in a few minutes."
"Wait a minute." You'd continued walking around the box, and you've noticed something. "Says 'Start here,' and there's a little door."
"OK. Open it."

"Maybe I should use a long stick."
"It isn't ticking. And there are less obvious ways to off you if that's the intent."
"'To boldly go...' Engage!" And you press the little door, there being no handle. It pops open, revealing a big green button with the legend "WILL." It has a light that slowly pulsates. You laugh.
"Well, that's what it takes. Will. Well, well. Mysterious boxes with a sense of humor. As Will said, 'To be or not to be...' and unquestionably I must will."

You press the button. It goes in and stays there. Little clickings and whirrings can be heard. Cracks open along the edges and the box begins to open. The neighborhood curtains begin to whisper, and phones can be heard ringing.
"I feel like the circus ringmaster."
Somehow the sides of the box fold away and disappear. Inside is... a box. It's plain, but nicely proportioned. On its side is printed "This device will do anything you ask of it. You must ask." You reach out and run your hand along the words, and the whole thing fades away. You feel a tingling in your fingers, your hand, and up your arm to your heart.

All that's left, for a short time, is the panel of wood that was beneath the box. On it is printed "It's yours now. But, of course, first you have to learn how to use it." Then the panel fades away and the driveway is empty but for two confused men.

If Jesus didn't start his ministry for 30 years, I doubt that God is in a big all-fired rush for us to get into things we don't understand. Will and spirit and freedom. They take time to learn.

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