The Inspired Lifestyle
Sunday, 30 March 2014
LITTLE COMFORTER OF CRISTOL PARK (FICTION?)
It was a very cold, hazy, harmattan evening; the waning sun, pale in the darkening sky.
I sat there, morosely; totally piqued at the whole, wide world.
I felt terrible that things were never the way they were supposed to be.
I was furious at the people I knew for being so disloyal and uncaring.
I was disgusted with those I did not know because they were oblivious to my plight.
I was worried at the burdens of guilt, sitting heavy upon my stooped shoulders.
I was affrighted at the bloody wars, haunting poverty and the spectre of death.
I was doubtful of God’s love for the human race.
I was caught betwixt Desperation and Despair, the cruel twins.
I wondered maliciously, if God existed anywhere in the terribly silent heavens.
I marvelled at the hopelessness of mankind’s existence here.
I scoffed at his unrelenting hope for a better life hereafter.
I despised the ‘haves’ for being satiated in their cold luxury.
I detested the ‘have-nots’ for being hopeful in their dejected state.
I was displeased with the fathers for pleasurably populating the earth with trouble-makers.
I was annoyed with the mothers for the sorrows they withstood, gently.
I raged at the oppression of the poor, widows, orphans and the handicapped.
I was so piqued that I was about to blow off my top once and for all.
Then I chanced to look towards my right side. Startled, I was. Seated on the bench by my side
Was a little boy, aged about ten, as dusk swiftly embraced the lonely park.
He was a stranger. I did not know when he had come to sit by my side.
He was gazing upon me with a warm kind of love and pity in his liquid brown eyes.
Immediately, I observed three sorry things about him, quickly.
He was horribly mangled by polio.
He was so frail and pale-looking.
He was so full of effervescing life and pulsing joy that it was painful to behold.
Why are you carrying about so much fire of hate and self-pity in your bosom?
When you only have to raise the jaded curtains from which you behold the world
To lighten and liven your world with the lamp of inexhaustible joy?
Look at me. My whole family was on the verge of despair.
But my unquenchable zeal, my indefatigable joy impresses them
So much that rather than mourn all they can do is celebrate with me.
Leukaemia. PAINFULL. Even though I say it!
A precious friend who has taught me to appreciate life’s little mercies more.
Polio. FRUSTRATING. Yes it is!
A dear brother who has led me to know the affection of heaven’s keen desires.
And here you sit, ranting at the whole world for being unfair and wicked?
Seeing that you are sound of mind. Sound of limb. Sound of hope.
Well, you need to see it from my perspective now.”
Yes. I had to. I tried not to. But I did. His eyes were gentle but ...
FORCEFULLY. He kept looking at me with those all-knowing,
All-seeing, soul-searching eyes of his.
“Come, let us pray awhile, good sir.”
My toes and fingers curled with the intensity of the shame.
My mind reeled drunkenly. I bowed my head in self-disgust.
He grasped my strong, work-roughened hands with his frail ones
Not allowing me to sink again into the miry bog of self-indulgence
And he prayed simply. He simply prayed. Heaven seemed to be straining at his
Quiet words, as Nature around us in the park did. Attentive.
I never knew Heaven was that close till I saw a plain, uncluttered heart
Utter the child-like but powerful words of redemption:
“Dear Lord of Life, Creator and the Source of all Mercies and Goodness-
Grant that Your Wonderful Light may illuminate the dark recesses
Of Your dear son’s aggrieved soul.
That Your Truthful Light radiate Your Love and Peace into the confused heart
Of Your beloved son. That he might learn to enter and walk in that Perfect Rest
Of Your Seventh Day Excellence. Now, may the bliss of all that it takes to know You
Totally suffuse his very essence until he becomes You
And You become him: Eternal. Amen.” I echoed the Amen.
I held onto his frail hands like a vice. He was gazing into my eyes
A tender smile playing around his lips - illuminating his pale, but peaceful face.
I felt as if a storm was being chased around within me;
A monstrous Goliath haunted by a little David and his shepherd’s sling.
And I fell to the ground, screaming, drawing him along with me
Holding on to those frail fingers in a vice-like grip.
His grip was surprisingly strong for someone so feeble-looking.
He kept looking into my eyes until I felt as if a great weight
Was suddenly lifted from my palpitating heart
And a great yoke was removed from my stooping shoulders. I wept.
I do not mean the gentle kind of weeping. I mean
The soul-dredging, heart-wrenching, mind-numbing, healing kind.
“You will be all right from now on. You’ll see. I’ll check on you later.”
He said, gently drawing his fingers from my hard grip, patting my shoulder
As he rose.
“Don’t go! Don’t GO!” I made as if to detain him. He shook his head
Eluded my grasp, with a smile and moved away, saying: “I’ll see you around.”
As I rose to follow him, so many questions, buzzing around my head
I felt someone tapping my shoulder from behind and I looked back in annoyance
I opened my eyes and met myself on the park bench.
It was getting quite dark now. The cool breeze was ruffling the flowers and the trees gently
I felt the breeze serenading my very soul. I could not dredge up hatred and despair
Any more. I was practically floating in relief.
It had been a dream all along. The old man who had tapped me on the shoulder
Was the park warden. He looked at me, not unkindly.
“You were muttering and gesticulating in your sleep and I guessed it was a bad dream.”
He squinted up at the clouds.
“The rain seems to be gathering its cloudy forces so rapidly.
It’s going to be a heavy one. Besides, it was getting quite dark, and
You need to go home now. It must have been a very hard day for you at work, not so?”
He looked at me closely. I avoided his eyes.
“Are you all right?” He asked, concern in his hoarse voice.
“Where...where is the...the boy?” I muttered stupidly.
“The boy? Which boy?” He was genuinely puzzled. It all poured out of me in a stutter.
“He was so frail and pale looking! He was ravaged by polio. So full of light and life!”
The old man’s face suddenly lighted up.
“Ah, so you too have seen the little Comforter of Cristol Park! How blessed you are!”
I was confused. “Little Comforter of Cristol Park? Who is he and where is he?”
The old Warden sat beside me and narrated a strange and thrilling tale to me.
“His father is the Vicar at St Paul’s Cathedral, yonder”
He pointed a gnarled finger at the looming tower in the distance.
“Everyone in this neighbourhood knew him quite well for he was the only son
Of the good Vicar and his lovely wife. Much beloved by the parishioners.
He was a cheerful, kind little fellow whose light of joy
Could never be quenched by any depression or situation. He took joy and comfort
Everywhere he went. People wanted to be around him, everywhere.
Unfortunately, from childhood, his body was ravaged by the polio disease.
He was also diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of seven. He spent a greater part
Of his time at the hospital when his mates were in school or at play.
However, all these had no effect on his natural force and his
joie de vivre
He comforted people, counselled those much older than him
And led many people to Christ than you can ever imagine.
Till the end, he was an enigma, even to his own parents!
He died before his ninth birthday. His Dad said he passed on with a radiant light
Pulsing on his face. He promised to keep in touch. No one understood.
All that was three years ago. Now, once every quarter, it has been observed
People - sick, unhappy, depressed, suicidal and at life’s crossroads
Who have come to relax at this park have reported seeing him in their dream
If they dare to sleep off, lulled by the soothing breeze and serenity of the park.
As they ponder their lives and adverse situations.
Invariably, they always receive their healing, get solutions to diehard problems –
And of course, the salvation of their souls.
The snag is that although he comes here once every quarter
No one knows the particular day of the month he would come
Or the time of the day it would be. So the place is never thronged with people
Seeking for solution. He wouldn’t put in an appearance if they do!
It seems that the right person always gets to see him at the right time.”
He winked conspiratorially at me.
“When he was alive, little Peter used to spend time ministering to needy people
In this park when he came here to relax. This was his favourite bench.
He caressed the bench on which I was seated, musingly.
“Apparently, he has been keeping in touch as he promised.” The man grinned.
“It all jells,” I muttered in bewilderment. He prayed for me and I feel ... so free!”
I touched my chest and my shoulder, dazed. Tears were coursing down my face
Unbidden, unchecked. It was a marvel.
So much pain, yet so much love and so much selflessness.
Where were we, the spiritually handicapped, in the whole set up?
“That’s good, ole Tommy boy for sure!” chimed the old man in glee.
He wagged his forefinger at me. “Now, you go and give testimony in his Dad’s church.
It gives them peace to know that his sweet spirit is still doing the good deeds
He was always known for around here.
So long, dear fellow.” He sauntered away, whistling happily
Obviously, to continue with his duties.
Now, don’t you go asking me when and where this strange incident happened
For I will definitely not tell you.
However, all I can, indeed, tell you is that one good, old fellow
Told the story to me. And here I am, telling it to you too!
Olujimi Jiboye March 2014
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10 January 2015 at 16:08
Sometimes, I wonder to myself: "Where, in creation, did that come from?!
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