David was one of the young host who invaded the Garsonville Church, sitting near the front altar on a vigil for a lost friend.
After that eventful Sunday, he and two other members of the high school started to attend.
He was what nicer Nebraskans refered to as a “soft boy.” He seemed to favor activities with less dirt and muscle. Now, the more aggressive Nebraskans, many attending his school. called him a queer–a fag.
David didn’t argue–just adopted many of the mannerisms and catch phrases of the gay community, not necessarily because he was born with that sensibility, but because he was only fifteen years old and welcomed any identity.
David immediately found a place for himself in the body of believers. He made it his mission to ensure that every Sunday morning, the holy foyer was filled with art–paintings, as it were–some masterful knockoffs and others done by the third grade class from the Wintermute Elementary School.
His displays played to mixed reviews among the congregation. Some of the pew-sitters felt it was inappropriate, and others actually joined in and brought some of their own made-up drawings.
David was faithful.
David was searching.
David was a sponge looking for a wet spot.
Jack was an adorable alcoholic. That’s what his family called him. He was one of those drinkers that got happier the more the liquor moved toward his liver.
And move it did–so much so that during one binge of whiskey and gin, he was rushed to the hospital with alcohol poisoning, and after many tests they discovered he was in the midst of liver failure and in need of a transplant.
This seemed to scare the hell out of Jack, leaving a hole ready for Jesus, so Meningsbee was called to come and witness to the once happy-go-lucky town drunk.
Meningsbee didn’t say much of anything; actually, Jack did the talking. And like many sinners who are eventually saved by grace, hearing his own story out loud, for perhaps the first time, sent him into a fit of weeping and a season of repenting.
Jack was born again in Room 315 of the Garsonville Community Hospital, with tubes poking out of almost every orifice on his body.
Jack never got strong enough to attend church. He was given the good news that there was a liver available for him, and before he knew it, was on the operating table, praying for a fresh start.
These two souls of God, David and Jack, collided one night in the same hospital at the same time, in similar conditions.
David arrived because he had been invited to a party, and in a moment of weakness, trying to make friends, overdosed on a cocktail of drugs which had been tossed into a punchbowl and dissolved, for the consumption of teenage fools.
His heart stopped three times on the way to the hospital and he was now on life support.
Jack’s operation was successful, but he fell victim to a serious and potentially lethal infection, which had him back on the table, doctors desperately trying to save his life.
Meningsbee sat in the waiting room on a hard, yellow, plastic chair, purchased during the Eisenhower Administration.
Both families, empty of words, had taken their leave and gone to the chapel to pray.
Meningsbee was alone with his thoughts. It was always on such occasions that he wondered if there really was a supernatural order directing a plan.
Was God really in the room with His angels, watching over the frail forms of David and Jack?
Had the Angel of Death arrived along with the Angel of Mercy, to take them home?
Or was it all just some sort of collage of grace, medical technology and just pure dumb luck determining the outcome?
Meningsbee found contentment that there was no answer. Just as an ant never discovers what is beyond its own hill, human beings likewise have much freedom but little insight.
The hours passed. It was touch and go.
At first they thought David still had good brain function and feared that Jack had lost too much blood to survive the repair.
The night wound on.
Five minutes after all the prayer warriors discovered that Jack had pulled through and was going to barely make it, they were told by the doctors that David had been assessed as brain-dead.
Two families stood side-by-side, digesting different news.
Jack’s family was careful not to express too much elation and relief, knowing that David’s mother and father were on the verge of collapse. Lacking words, fatigued by prayer, hampered by doubt and in the human state of confusion, they simply turned to one another and embraced.
David’s mom and dad made the agonizing decision to pull the plug and let him go home. He lived for ten minutes.
Reverend Meningsbee had one last prayer.
He hoped David would be granted a great space in the foyer of heaven…to display his art.