Lifter of My Head

An excerpt from a closing chapter of The Carafe Conspiracy. ©2021 D. Dean Benton.

The Carafe Conspiracy is the act of walking beside and pouring into companions, associates and clients. That is clearly the work of a Jesus Follower. What do we pour? What is the point of walking beside? It is to experience together the coming of God’s Kingdom onto Earth in and on individuals, communities and nations. We are not conspiratorial. We desire to discover and pour the essentials that develop a Jesus Follower. Our Carafe ministry is a mission that matters. The unknown—hidden to us—feels like a conspiracy as Holy Spirit guides people, reveals what needs to happen, how we are to respond and reveals through discernment, revelations, conversations, the path to healing, and the significant life. All of this is based on the answer to, Just how far are we willing to grow?

“Your kingdom come! Now!”

But it didn’t seem to be coming. Chad packed his case into the car, waved to security and drove toward wherever his vehicle would take him. He drove past the hospital’s parking lot where he had been slugged and the hospital where his friends had brought him when he had been found in the old building. Chad had forgotten how long he was a recovering patient or even if there was a diagnosis. Closed head injury with temporary amnesia sounded right. Not much clarity about that hospital stay. He stood in the spot where the drug dealers had beaten and kidnaped him and the Patient Discharge door where his friends had picked him up to take him back to the Southwood campus to recover.

“I’m going to ask Brent what he remembers.” With that he wrote a note in his phone and pointed his car to the Interstate truck stop to settle into his favorite coffee shop booth. Favorite because it gave him the best view to sketch the customers, waitress and what was going on in his head.

Two cups and a piece of peach pie into the second hour of his mental free-wheeling he started a fresh sketch pad page and a new customer. A man with dark, short hair, glasses and a mask he adjusted into place between sips of coffee. This restaurant catered to truck drivers and travelers. The man taking shape on Chad’s paper wore a blazer and a badge. Maybe he liked chrome things too. There was something familiar about the man which drew the artist’s full attention.

“Seoul, Korea. I met him at a church or the embassy in Seoul.” He returned to his pencil work. But something didn’t fit. He puzzled until he realized no one in Seoul would have been wearing a mask like that when they would have met.

“May I join you for a minute?” Chad introduced himself and sat uninvited at the table. “Do you work in Seoul?”

The man chuckled said he did not. “I’m a doctor at St. Luke’s on 176th Street. Not in Seoul, but in this city. Have you been to Seoul?”

There was no answer, just silence as the puzzling continued. Of course, Chad would have seen people wearing masks at the hospital. His amnesia had been deeper than he thought.

“I traveled to Seoul on NGO trips. I didn’t meet you there, I must have met you in your hospital. You came into my room to talk about my head injury.” Slowly clarity slipped in. He remembered this masked man being in his hospital room wearing a mask. Other hidden memories began focusing like lens focus when twisted. “Dr., any clue what I’m talking about?” I would have had friends with me. Nurse Della….”

“Of course. Della is a close friend. I remember! Every event including the Putnams is memorable.” Chad knew the Dr. was smiling behind the mask. “Yes. I was working at Nicol’s Memorial that day, but your injury demanded my skill so, I was called in to St. Luke’s. It was a chaotic time for us.”

“Did you tell me you would pray for me?”

“I did pray for you. I told your friends I would be praying for you and for my judgement and ability.”

“Do you say that to all your patients?”

“Well, that is what we do.”

“What we do?” Chad asked.

“Yes.” The doctor paused. My grandparents and great-grandparents would regularly go to Prayer Mountain in Seoul at 4:00 a.m. to pray. Their prayer altars were in an excavated-out hole in the mountain. That prayer tradition comes to me. Miracles! Spiritual awakenings. You may have missed South Korea if you didn’t go to Prayer Mountain.”

“At four a.m.?”

“Yes. If people did not arrive until 5:00, my family thought they were backslidden.”

Chad felt he had missed something and that he was late. Definitely late.

“We Western Christians have missed….”

If he lived long enough for his mustache to grow as bushy as Ross’ and he adopted all the habits of Brent, Buddy  and Charlie, he would never forget that phrase: “Well, that is what we do!”

The physician’s digital device jarred Chad back into the moment. The doctor was being called to an emergency. “Got to go. Talk to your friends about that hospital visit. They will know more than I do.” As he walked toward the door, Dr. Cho turned and addressed Chad. “And—I want a copy of that drawing.”

Chad Wilson sat at the truck stop counter staring at his pencil drawing. Slowly, he remembered the minutes after the doctor had left his hospital room that night after his journey into absence and forgotten-ness. Chad repeated out loud what he had said to himself that night, “What just happened here?”

The next morning, he related to his “friends” the truck stop encounter. Then, he asked them, “What did happen that evening? What was your take-away?”

There were no instant answers. There was a lot of staring into coffee cups. There was no one answer. There was a feeling that even after an answer was found or many answers, they would be inadequate.

Brent chuckled and said, “I would think that a prophet-at-large would know what happened!”

“You would think so, wouldn’t you? Chad good naturedly responded.

“You’ve been thinking, apparently, that you came home that night. You had been in the hospital for three days,” Della said. “You were pretty much out-of-it most of the time You talked about Sondra. I don’t remember your wife’s name being a Sondra.”

“Great! You going to tell the media what I said?”

“You were down, weak from discouragement and depression—on the verge of giving up and we couldn’t figure out why,” Della’s voice was soft, “and I was concerned for you.”

Ross was on his way to work with a last swallow of Mountain Dew. “The medical people kept saying it was a Closed Head Injury. I was thinking Lance and I could really have big fun with a Closed Head Injury theme. Do you notice how disciplined I was? A real grown-up. I restrained myself. Nothing inappropriate when I had such a huge opening.” Ross could have “left the stage” but he wasn’t finished sharing his take. “I’m not experienced with this, but it felt to me like it was what y’all are talking about when you say, ‘Kingdom.’ It was and is—as in still going on—a Kingdom event.”

The tribe muttered an assortment of responses.

“It was that!”

“Dr. Cho released the blessing!” Brent said with gentle passion. “It took me hours to be able to put a label on what happened to me and to all of us. He released the blessing and Ross is right. It is still being released.”

“What exactly does that mean?” Ross asked.

Felicia placed her hand on Chad’s arm and answered him. “You turned from depressed to hopeful, jubilant and positive anticipation. Your demeanor changed, something got healed that wasn’t closed up in your skull.”

“Holy Spirit lifted up your head, Chad, literally and in every other way.” Charlie was experiencing the moment, again.

“But you, O Lord, are a shield around me,   my glory, the Lifter of my head…” (Psalm 3:3).

His wife Della said, “We all heard you singing those words in praise. Something just beyond definition moved through that room into each of us, at least that is what you have described.” Nurse Della was at that moment touching a radical healing realm. “I have wondered ever since what if we had sung those words.”

“Well, let’s see.” Charlie used the interlude to pull up “You’re My Glory” on his phone playlist.

“I call out to the Lord,

and he answers me from his holy mountain.

 I lie down and sleep;

I wake again, because the Lord sustains me” (Psalm 34-5).

Chad spoke the words into a quiet room. “That is my testimony. I own those words. ‘I wake again—Lifter of my head.’”

©2021 D. Dean Benton

The Carafe Conspiracy. A novel, will soon be published as an ebook.

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