Monday, October 26, 2015


       I read a quote yesterday that really got me thinking: 

       "Wisdom, after all, is just healed pain."

       Healed pain?

       I have prayed often for wisdom, but I have never prayed for pain. If wisdom only comes after pain, then our society is a bit backwards. Don't we emphatically try to avoid pain? 

       Can we strive too hard to avoid pain, and in so-doing, lose something very valuable...sense, priority, judgement, principle?

      Strangely enough, I think the answer is yes.


Chapter 6

       The morning seemed slow and Claire's stomach was growling. She looked at the time on her computer: 11:45. She turned off the screen and straightened slowly. She was sore; not the achy pain under the cast, but her back and hamstrings. Even in the couple hours she did get to ski, her body was not used to it. She walked over to Jan's office. She felt tired and just a bit sad from the weekend.

       "Jan, time for lunch."

       Jan looked up over her reading glasses, taking a second to focus her green eyes on Claire.

       "Oh, hey, Sweetie," she sighed. "I have so much. And I brought a sandwich and stuff. You wanna share?"

       "Aw, no thanks. I'm having a KC craving for some barbecue. Maybe Jack Stack."

       Jan smiled wanly, "Sorry--Phil might want to go..."

       Claire waved her hand impassively. "It's fine. I don't want to be chastised anymore." She smiled,
"And the exercise'll be good. I'll change shoes and walk, then just come back and eat at my desk. See ya!"

       Jan waved and looked back down at her computer and Claire headed over to change into the sneakers she kept at her desk. The walk would feel good.


       Ernesto was used to being called "Ernie" by most people. His Mom and Dad and grandparents were about the only ones who still called him by his given name, but he liked it. It was a connection to his roots in Central and South America. He took Spanish in high school because his Dad said it was wise being the second-most spoken language in the United States. He did well, and then he was able to take Portuguese in college. 

       He was determined to speak each without an accent, and most native speakers complimented him. Some of the construction workers he'd worked with over the years were Brazilian and some were Mexican. He was able to get to know them better, and to respect them better. He, in turn, earned their respect.

       He was at lunch with a few of his crew and overheard a young woman at the table beside them lamenting to her friend in Spanish about a bad date that weekend. Despite her speed of delivery, he understood, and he found himself feeling sorry for her. He began to imagine Mexico, pondering why he had never traveled there. He made a mental note to do just that when this job was finished.

       "Boss! Ernie!"

       Ernesto looked up at the man across the booth. "Sorry, Pete. What?"

       "Where were you, man? Hey, the waitress wants to know if you want fries, they're out of potato salad."

      "Fries are great--sorry." He looked up at the waitress who shyly looked away as their eyes met. There were some drawbacks to being a good-looking man. Many times he couldn't get a good look at a woman's eyes. She turned and rushed off, and the men continued talking about the Royals and draft picks. 

       The door opened and Ernie saw Claire walk in and over to the counter. He noted her athletic stride, the polite chat with someone in line ahead of her. She placed her order and turned to survey the restaurant. He looked plainly at her, wondering if she'd see him, or pretend not to. 

       She did see him, and reacted immediately. With a quick wave she mouthed "Hey," and walked over to the table of men. Ernesto's co-workers looked up at the attractive woman striding toward their table, then back and forth at themselves. They realized, then, (of course) she was there to see Ernie. They looked at him and one elbowed another. 

       "I know you," she said to Ernesto; then to the other men, "Hi, I'm Claire." Pete, whose rounded belly was indented with the table made an effort to stand. Claire quickly motioned to him, "Please--sit," which he gladly did to mitigate any further embarrassment. He glanced shamefully at his co-workers' poor manners. 

       Claire kept speaking, "Are you guys working with Ernesto?" They nodded and grunted amiably. "Well, I'll be seeing you sometimes. I'm to help monitor the progress." She narrowed her eyes at them playfully. "So make me happy, okay?"

       The men might have been put off, but she was just so sure of herself and so dang cute. She was likable. Ernesto made quick introductions and one of the men motioned for Claire to sit.

       Ernesto hadn't stopped smiling, watching her effect on the men. "Yeah, join us, Claire."

       "Thank you--I would, but I have a bunch of work. I should've finished more before the weekend, but I was so excited to get away." She looked disappointingly at her arm.

       Pete noticed the near-matching cast. "You two do that together? Ernie, man, you didn't say a girl was on your guys' weekend." The men laughed.

       "I wish, 'cause I might not have gotten on that four-wheeler. No, Claire was skiing in Colorado."

       Pete interjected, "You know you can stay right here in Kansas; there's a slope up North near Weston." 

       Pete scoffed, "No way. Kansas is too flat! Who are you kidding?"

       Claire snorted a teasing laugh, "Well, there actually is, but...I was spoiled on the East coast, and by Colorado. Bit of a ski snob." She did that snort-laugh again.

       Ernesto pretended to be insulted. "Hey, I spent lots of winters on that slope. It's near my home."

       "No offense intended!" She laughed. "Maybe I should try it one day. I just think I'll be on lifts a lot more than any runs."

       Claire's order was called by the woman at the counter.

       "Gentlemen. Until Thursday. Nice to meet you! She cocked her head at Ernesto.  "Mr. Smith." 

       "Miss Ski-Lady..."

       There was no self-conscious looking away with Claire. 

       Claire turned and was out the door with her order in a minute. The men were already making jabs at Ernesto. 

       She heard them as the door closed behind her, and smiled to herself.  Her mood had lifted considerably.


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