Elijah and I went over our plans before our anticipated departure tomorrow. Not that we planned everything in minute detail. In our experience, collectively and individually, that would be counterproductive and would run the risk of missing the Spirit’s leading.
We did settle upon a direction.
At first I was all for heading north as I thought that the most likely place to begin our search for Tomas and Jezer after my talk with Quasimo yesterday.
Elijah dismissed that notion, not unkindly, but with an explanation that revealed he knew more than I did. His first pupils had been responsible for covering our crossing from that direction, our missing friends acted only to the south.
So, Damascus is our destination.
Our plans changed again. Just slightly. Instead of leaving today, we sent Jezer with Raj P and his group. And the rest of us will be the last to leave tomorrow.
Jezer was rather insistent that he return right away, citing pressing concerns back at the hiding place.
I wondered if that concern had a name. Or whether his concern was over a situation. Elijah thinks the latter and two someones.
Anyway, Jezer and Raj P were introduced yesterday and have already struck up a good working relationship. They got underway with a minimum of difficulty.
As it turned out the group led by Tomas and the Captain is so big we are very thankful for the extra preparation time.
Elijah has been kept on his feet all day, as he and Mei (and I) have been lead from village to village. He was thronged in each place.
Story after story emerged about how these people have been lead to this place by dreams and visions, at the center of which has been the likeness of our friend Elijah.
And in place after place he worked mightily to redirect their focus onto the One who sent the Spirit.
There was much rejoicing in our wake.
We returned to our host village at day’s end, tired, but elated. Tomas and the Captain had traveled all the way to the city only to be refused entry.
We made plans for the morrow.
At first, the Captain refused to budge last night. Not for any reason that I could see as to his ability to move or not, he clearly was hail and hearty. But I suspected he wanted to make things easier for Elijah.
We all know Elijah has been fasting for a month now and that he hasn’t yet declared when he plans to stop. But, as I pointed out, neither has he made any complaints. He just keeps plodding on. No stumbling, not even faltering.
In fact, while the Captain and I were discussing this. Elijah just took off and it was all we could do to catch up and to stay caught up.
He also determined when we halted.
Both the Captain and Tomas have finally gotten their land legs. The wait has been beneficial, for it afforded them time to concentrate on plans for the future. Elijah has been very supportive, preparing them for being on their own. For our paths may soon be diverging.
I took a walk around the immediate vicinity to get my bearings. This proved helpful for when Elijah and I made our way back into the city, we didn’t fall off the causeway into the rice paddies, going out or returning.
The city which had seemed empty from the ship in the darkness has transformed into a teeming anthill of people.
Strikingly, we each came away sensing the presence of a hostile spirit.
Not our hearts.
It was the summer of 1977 and we had plans. Plans to hit the road again for a vacation down California way.
Instead of flying this time we took our orange Arrow. With me driving of course.
We made the trip in stages, stopping the first night at the Mallory Hotel in Portland OR. We didn’t see much of the city. It was dark out, and on our quest to find a place to eat, we settled on a familiar name – Benihana’s Japanese restaurant. So that section of Portland and whatever was viewable from the off ramp to the hotel and the streets to get back onto I-5 were all we saw of the city.
We made good time from Portland through the rest of Oregon and into Northern California. We reached Vacaville in time for lunch at a restaurant in an olive orchard. My wife remembered this particular restaurant/tourist spot from a family vacation when she was growing up. She carries with her the memory of her dad grimacing when sampling a rather green olive. This time around she was the one grimacing – over my choice from the menu – gazpacho. I guess the thought of cold tomato soup put her teeth on edge. I thought it wonderful (the soup, not the fact that it made her grimace).
From Vacaville we made our way down to San Pablo Bay, skirted around towards San Rafael, and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge to our next destination – San Francisco. We checked into a motel somewhere along route 1, unloaded our luggage (except a couple of items) and went in search of dinner.
The Hyatt Regency at the Embarcadero Center was only four years old at the time, and a prime night spot. It had a revolving restaurant, the Equinox, on the top of its tower. We parked the Arrow a few blocks away up on Market Street, and were mesmerized by the impressive lobby of the hotel (like being in the interior of a pyramid) which we passed through on the way to the restaurant. [My wife is a great disaster movie fan, and shots of this particular lobby were recognizable, as it had been used in The Towering Inferno, three years before.]
We had a enjoyable meal. I can tell you that much, but don’t ask what it was, for what happened next completely overshadowed all else.
We each had had an adult beveridge with our meal, so we were a little fuzzy as we walked up Market to our parked car. We were puzzled by the sight of a loaf of bread sitting on the sidewalk beside the Arrow. My wife wondered out loud why our groceries were outside the car. We didn’t notice the broken glass under the bread, and were slow to realize that our car had been broken into and robbed.
We found a phone and called the cops. After giving them the rundown on our plight, they informed us that they could not come out to the scene of the crime, but if we wanted to come in to fill out a report we were welcome to.
We followed their directions to a small precinct house further uptown and made our report. Besides our groceries we were missing a couple other items: an 8mm Bell & Howell movie camera and dirty laundry in a paper sack. Sometime in the midst of this ordeal I asked urgently if they had a restroom. This sent me on another surreal sidetrack, as they had no public facility and referred me next door to a seedy bar/nightclub. I felt I was sleep walking through the rest of our time there. It was real “trippy.”
The next day was a Sunday and the memory of what transpired is all a hazy black cloud. Reality was settling in. Was our vacation over before it had begun? We needed a replacement for that backseat side window and where would we find one?
We had to wait until Monday. That’s when we raised a Chrysler dealorship, but they did not have that part in stock. Nor did any of the auto glass companies. Hope was offered, in that they could order it in – but it would take a couple of days. Desperate to save our vacation, I asked if there was something we could substitute, say something plastic. That set a light bulb off in the imagination of the auto glass specialist, and he referred us to a shop that dealt in plexiglass. On parting he suggested that we tell them to use the other window as a template to cut a replacement.
Which is exactly what we were able to do. And we were on the road again before lunch. With only an occasional whistling noise from our replacement “window.”
As predicted we arrived just off our destination in the early afternoon. There was a lot of traffic – more coming out than going in. We took our place in line, and waited our turn.
The Captain came to me to ask after Elijah. The last I knew he was going to the special cabin, so I replied that he was more than likely still there. The Captain then inquired if Elijah had any plans to go ashore.
I had to plead ignorance.
Not wanting to disturb him, we waited.
Elijah emerged around the time our turn to enter port came up. Unbidden he declared we were not going ashore, saying this city is completely given over to the dark one.
Jordan has not left our side since we discovered one another yesterday. And Elijah wasted no time in seeing to his instruction. He has big plans for him. Or more accurately stated God does.
It has something to do with the people here in the slum, or more specifically with those who have expressed a desire to understand the meaning of the times in which we live.
The promised things are closer now than ever before.
A battle is ongoing for the allegiance of the peoples of this metropolis. Those in the well-to-do sectors have already surrendered to it, for they clearly see that their continued prosperity depends upon their submission.
Next they will seduce the slums.
We are being hemmed in. By other people, by circumstances. Our expectations and plans lie in tatters.
The global security forces have locked up the ingress and egress points around the entire metropolis. Which puts us in a dilemma. We are closer than ever to catching up to the Hamashiachite. But if we stay another day to make that happen, we may never be able to leave.
Elijah remains upbeat, exhorting me with the truth that it will all work out for the good.
He is especially moved by the fact that the attitudes of some of the people in the slum are changing towards us. A few are even responding by asking us questions.
For now we will stay.