Archive for January, 2011

16
Jan

What Happens When You Have A Clear Mind

   Posted by: Mel   in Life

A young priest during the 1800’s traveling from town to town hearing confessions found himself using a jail cell with a blanket between him and those confessing their sins. He heard the confession of one older man, “I have a problem with drinking. I drink but only when I get lonely. My wife died a few years back and now I find myself lonely. No one is my friend, never ask how I am, what I did for a living. I’m just so lonely.” The man took out his bottle to get and drink and dropped it on the hard floor, busting and spilling it everywhere. Embarrassed he ran out of the jail. The priest bowed his head, unsure what to do and feeling a bit sorry for the older man.

Later on the priest found himself doubting God, after hearing so many confessions that day of broken dreams, loneliness and despair and even burying a nine year old boy who had died after falling from a wagon. He took off his priest robe and began to search for a job in town. He decided he would make some money, enough to go home on. There he would work with his Dad in the family business. He found nothing, over and over again he was told no. A man came up and said,  “I’m looking for someone at my place, wash dishes, serve the customer and clean up at closing,”  The priest said, “what place of business do you own?” The man smiled proudly and pointed toward the saloon, “That’s my place of business right there.” The priest swallowed hard knowing he stood against everything the saloon stood for. “You won’t find any other work in town kid, everyone is feeling the pinch. Take it or you’ll have to go to the next town.” Knowing he had no money, no way of getting to the next town and desperately needing money to live off of now that he was no longer a Father. He bowed his head, breathed deep and said “What time do I start?”

That night an older man came in, ordering drink after drink. He recognized the man not only by the loneliness in his voice but by the way the man stayed around even after the saloon was long since closed. The priest, who was now going by the name of Joe, brought him a cup of coffee. The older man asked, “What are you trying to do kill me?” Joe smiled, “No sir, I’m trying to get you sober so you can make it home tonight.” The man got up slurring his words, “I can make it home just fine without your help.” Joe smiled again, grabbed his mop and started mopping. “I know, but I thought we could talk, just until I get done mopping. What did you do for a living?” Surprised by the interest he began to tell Joe, “I worked on the railroad for 30 years. When I could no longer hold the hammer without my hands hurting I retired to this place. I was one of the original founders of this town, myself and two other men.” Joe kept mopping, “And what do you do for fun, besides drink?” The man looked up at him, “Well I like to play chess. I was one of the best chess players from this state. Chess players from other states would run me down just to play a game with me.” He put his head down, “well they did till I started drinking.” Joe looked at him, “I play chess myself.” The man looked up and grinned, “Someday will you play a game with me Joe, huh? Huh? Will you?” Joe grinned as he walked the old fellow to the door, “Sure, John someday I’ll play chess with you.”

The next night John came in, this time sitting at the end of the bar with a chess set. Joe would make his move in between serving drinks, washing glasses and fulfilling his job at the saloon. Joe making his last move for the night, “Checkmate.” John got upset as any one loosing would, “Dagnabbit Joe, how do you win so much.” Joe looked the old-timer in the eyes, “There’s only one difference between the way you play and the way I play.” Joe picked up Johns whiskey glass and held it in front of his face, “I’ve got a sober mind.” Joe put the glass down and went to get his mop to start cleanup. John picked up his glass and put it to his lips, smelled it, mumbled something towards Joe and then put the glass down.

A few days later while playing Joe again, drinking his glass of milk John asked, (not knowing Joe’s past as a priest) “are you a very religious man Joe?” Joe moved uncomfortably in his seat, “I believe in God, Why you ask?” John made a move on the board, “Well I slept really good last night, first time since my wife died. And I woke up to this beautiful day; I knew I was coming here tonight to play chess with you and I knew I needed a clear head you see, to play chess. So I fought the temptation of taking that drink. Fought it real hard and I don’t mind telling you Joe, it was tough! But I started going through some of my wife’s things. I found her Bible you see. I started remembering how she and I use to read it together every day and I’d forgot what a great book that is Joe. I started reading where it says we’re all his children. I kind of like that, thinking about being a child of God.” Joe shifted uncomfortably in his chair, “Your move John.” John reached for the piece and moved it, jumping out of his seat his did the 1800’s version of the happy dance. Dancing around chanting checkmate, checkmate, I finally did it. I beat you!” Joe started laughing, “Yes you did, yes you sure did.”

Joe knew in that moment he could no longer work there, maybe God had meant for him to be there for this old-timer. Maybe it had been meant to be in a different way, but because of Joe’s lack of faith he had ended up in this saloon. “Satan’s breeding ground.” Joe mumbled as he got his stuff together.

Knowing he wouldn’t be back to the town for several months for confession he decided to do one last mass before leaving town. The township still not knowing he had been the priest they lined up to confess their sins in the jail. “Bless me Father for I have sinned” Joe recognized the voice, it was John. Joe’s face changed, thinking that John had slipped and was drinking again. “But I stopped a few days ago Father.” Joe grinned. “You see I met this feller and he started talking to me, interested in me and my life. We played Chess together every night for the past couple of weeks. I haven’t had a drink in four days Father. And now some of the other fellers in town, especially these young folks they been coming to me, they want me to teach them how to play.” Joe grinned; knowing he had a part in this man’s recovery. “And Father, I been reading the Bible every day again. It’s such a great book; there are so many wonderful stories in there. “John shuffled his feet towards the door, “Well I won’t take up too much of your time, I just wanted you to know, I’m on the right road now.” Joe smiled and looked toward heaven, folding his hands together, “thank you.”

Does not matter what your religion is. The point of this story is not about the priest finding redemption with God. It’s about a man who needed a friend, a friend that cared. Who will you be Jesus to?