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Back to the World

by James Shaffer

Table of Contents
Table of Contents
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18,
19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

part 2

I was christened John Rae Piper. “Christened” is probably not the right word, because it was never made official in any church. Mama and Daddy had decided on the name before I was born. My daddy said you have to decide these things in advance. He’d never been much of a planner, but with the trouble in Korea and being in the Army, it put a whole new perspective on things. The thought of not coming back was always there.

My mama, Jenny, chose my name from the Bible. John the Baptist was one of her favorite characters. “He was wild and unpredictable,” she’d said, “not afraid of anything.” He was a “voice crying in the wilderness.” God knows, with my daddy away fighting a war, and a new-born to tend to, she was sure lost in a wilderness of her own out on the empty plains in the Texas Panhandle.

I wouldn’t call her religious, but she was spiritual. She understood things on a plane beyond the practical. To her, life was not all about what you could prove but also, and maybe more, about what remained a mystery.

She and I used to hang a blanket over the clothesline in the back yard and “camp out.” I was only two or three at the time. At that age, I don’t remember the details, but the impressions those nights left on my mind and soul are like a permanent tattoo.

Though we didn’t eat locusts and wild honey like her hero John the Baptist, we did munch on her homemade biscuits and, like him, we predicted the future and set a true path in motion toward it in our little V-shaped corner of the world in our backyard.

For us — for her, for me — the canopy of stars overhead held a vast understanding that surpassed the mundane, a mystery waiting to be revealed. “Watch and pray,” my mama said. It was a mandate I never forgot.

To be continued...

Copyright © 2015 by James Shaffer

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