Essays, Stories, Adventures, Dreams
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
With Tears in My Eyes
Of the many times when melancholia starts to overwhelm his senses, the Footloose Forester is often visited by a couple of stories that can easily bring tears to his eyes. Although he was never an openly religious person, he was always a spiritual one. Many times he saw God in the sunrise and in the sunset, on the face of mountains, heard his presence in the wind through the pine trees, felt his warnings on the brink of danger, and allowed the Footloose Forester to see his majesty in the disguised dignity of children. A few of those stories are about barefoot children.
If you ever want to see the Footloose Forester break down in tears, just ask him to describe when he looked into the eyes of a Kenyan street waif. The boy was seven or eight years old but was the leader of a group of orphaned boys who wandered the streets of Nairobi, seeking to survive until the next day. Yes, street boys sometimes have the reputation of being unkempt, dirty, and ragged-looking in every way. These were no different. But they were God's children.
In many African cities young orphans sleep on the streets
When we lived in Nairobi we saw them on a daily basis because they lived on the streets and slept in alleyways. They begged for food wherever they thought they might find a handout. They also offered to watch your parked car, or clean your windshield. And they swiped fruit from food stalls when they were desperate. Desperate but not hopeless.
A Catholic Missionary priest named Father Mike Evans who worked with one group of street orphans in an ad hoc way told us about one encounter that reminded the Footloose Forester that God protected them. On one occasion when Father Mike met with the group, several of them acknowledged that they were indeed homeless orphans. They also said that they didn’t have anybody to care for them. At that point the 8-year old leader rebuked them….No, you have me! From that day forward whenever we were in town we looked for the leader and knew that by looking into his eyes we could see the face of God.