Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Diary of Dundee, Part VI

We are close upon the end of this journey, and I appreciate your measured steps to get here. Readership is a gift to the writer; know that yours does not go unappreciated.

Chad and I found ourselves together once again on Thursday. This guy and I can’t get rid of each other! After Bruce took us to lunch at Taza, an Indian buffet down by the docks, we got on a bus with Nikita and Chris out to parts unknown to do home visits with the Attic kids. The few homes I went to with Bruce in March in Hilltown were up in four apartment towers which are a haven for drug crime, muggings, and the like. The towers are now slated to be torn down for that reason, but we were invited in to most every place we visited. I had felt somewhat successful in breaking the ice with people. By contrast, the area we went to with Chris and Nikita was almost suburban in its idiom, but no one really wanted us in their house. Some of the parents didn’t seem very involved in the Attic beyond knowing that their kids go on Mondays and blindly trusting the staff to be responsible. Perhaps they don’t care as much as we would hope. The Dads & Lads weekly football match is one of the success stories about getting parents involved. We did get to stop and talk to a few people on the sidewalk or on their front porches. Chris always introduced Chad and me by saying, “We’ve got the Americans with us this week.” Next time, I could wear an Uncle Sam hat and sing Yankee Doodle, but we’re a spectacle enough as it is.

We had dinner at Liz’s with the whole crew. She fixed us a traditional South African meal of something that I can’t spell, but it sounded like “Bo-BWUH-ti”. Over the winter squash soup appetizer, I got to meet her other son, Clinton. She told us the story of her encounter, as a child, with an evil spirit and how it responded to the name of Jesus. She told us about shamans in the tribes near her childhood home. We heard the story of how she had gotten arrested for having an assembly in the rain in the park and immediately released. We talked about the absurd child protection laws that are the plague of parenthood in Scotland. The US isn’t that far behind, either, with the weight of fickle vindictive accusations kids can make against adults. I can remember getting a phone call of my own from a lawyer asking about a coworker, whom I unfortunately didn’t remember well enough to help. Liz advised us to get a police-done background check for our own protection. And then the door swung wide for Chad and I to really get to know each other.

He said that he knew it was wrong, but he felt that child molesters should be hanged. Now, to give him the benefit of the doubt, he was coming from the position of having two little boys and a wife, all of whom he would defend with his life, just like any sensible husband and father. I would probably say the same thing. Still, I was livid. I got up and walked to the kitchen to collect my thoughts and try to form some sense of understanding about why I was angry. The best that I could come up with was that it was a rash thing to say and that I felt that the grace of God, if not the trust of man, is offered to everyone. Was it simply that I didn’t have kids and couldn’t particularly understand? Probably somewhat. At any rate, I looked at him and quietly told him that we needed to talk.

When we got back to Rose’s, what I expected to happen was that I would make good on my intentions of bringing Chad to understanding. What did happen was that we spent the better part of an hour confessing our pock-marked histories to one another and hugging each other before going to bed. I still can’t quite conceive what happened. Somewhere in the chain of events, the human connection was interrupted and replaced with a divine grace. We couldn’t take credit, we could only wonder and be thankful.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V


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