"Pidge in Paradise"
(Author Unknown)

3-14-2001SOW Seeds Service of the Church Within Story #127
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Welcome
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Greetings my Dearest Sisters and Brothers, and welcome again to Church Within's Story of the Week ["SOW Seeds]

This week's SOW Seeds Story #127, contributed by: Amy Megow

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Story of the Week
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Pidge in Paradise
(Author Unknown)

        I was brought up in a southern suburb of Brooklyn, known by its inhabitants as Paradise. And it was, if you could see the beauty in the drugs and alcohol and violence that dictated our lives.

        There was a man who lived in the same downtown area that we did. No one knew his name or his age or his home. Many doubted he even had the latter, looking down at him as just another homeless bum who polluted our already putrid streets. For most he was just another scar against the backdrop of broken beer bottles, broken buildings and broken families.

        But us kids loved him. We called him Pidge, after the pigeons that he loved to feed. Against our parents better judgment, we spent hours with Pidge in the park, listening to his stories. For a man who appeared so poor and hopeless, he was extremely knowledgeable, and every day he expanded our minds with his stories. Stories from his homeland, of a young boy who stuck his finger in a dyke and saved his city. Stories from long ago, of knights and dragons. Stories of the world, stories that had never filtered in to us from behind the decaying walls that surrounded Paradise. Stories of a President who everyone loved and who in return, loved everyone, and who's compassion led to his assassination. Or stories of a war on the other side of the world, where our men were being killed in a battle that they shouldn't be fighting.

        And then sometimes, Pidge would tell us his favorite stories, of a man who walked on water, who cast out demons, who healed the sick.

        Pidge did more for us than just entertain us. He was our guide, our mentor, counseling us on everything from bad grades to alcoholic fathers. He would provide the poorer of us kids with jackets to keep out the autumn winds and supply food for younger siblings. We never knew how he afforded the gifts; it never occurred to us that he might steal. Pidge wasn't like that. ! He steered us away from the web of drugs that so many of my friends were almost caught in. Likewise, he reached out to those who were already entangled and encouraged them to break free.

        There was one guy, Mike, who had been dealing since he was three. His mother was a prostitute; his father was in jail for a double murder, a mother and son, who he had killed several years ago. Everyone in Paradise passed Mike off as a lost cause. Everyone except Pidge.

        All through the summer of '76, Pidge reached out to Mike, offering him the love and friendship that he had always been denied. He arranged for Mike to visit his father in prison. Often Pidge would come with him, and Mike and his Dad would sit down and listen to his stories. Pidge's favorite stories. The stories of the man who had lived on earth a long time ago. Of the man who had befriended tax collectors, lepers and other social outcasts of that time. Of the man who had died the most painful death imaginable so that people like Mike and his Dad could be saved. Pidge's influence on Mike was amazing. He grew more relaxed, more at peace and on occasions, we even heard him laugh. He spoke of leaving the drug trade, of starting a new life for himself. He looked upon Pidge as his friend and more importantly, his savior.

        They found Pidge's body one early Autumn morning in the park, among his beloved pigeons. He had been shot at close range, in the stomach, a method used in Paradise to ensure a slow and painful death. His murderer had scratched a marijuana leaf onto Pidge's forehead, the mark of the local drug lord. Mike's boss.

        Mike went missing. We never saw him again.

        But Pidge's stories stayed with us. And among ourselves, we recounted the stories he had told. Especially the ones of his God, Jesus of Nazareth. Our parents scoffed at us when we told them tales of how Jesus died to forgive our sins. All of our sins, no matter! how horrendous. 'Forgiveness doesn't have a home in Paradise,' they told us. 'You get hurt, you get even. Your Pidge was obviously never hurt. How else could he have spoken of these things so easily?'

        A short time after Pidge's murder, Mike's father hanged himself in his prison cell. The rumor around Paradise was that he'd angered the prison heavy weights, and their threats were too much for him to cope with.

        But us kids thought we knew the true story. Because when the police questioned us over Pidge's death and Mike's disappearance, they let it slip that Pidge had once had a wife and son, both murdered brutally a few years back.

        By reaching out to Mike, and to Mike's Dad, Pidge showed us what true forgiveness was. And showed us another Paradise.

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The Prayer
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Dear God,        
        I never knew that feeding Birds could be so Dangerous. Oh well… I think I'll feed them Anyway. Protect me as You Will.

You ALL are Within the Infinitely Loving Embrace of our Universal Parent,

The Creator's Eternal Love to all of You,
Pastor Daniel

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