Monday, April 20, 2015

Cleaning Up the City

The glorious city, the New Jerusalem, is resplendent in it’s height.  Upon Mt. Zion stands not just a temple, but a glorious building of gold and domes and pillars, the center of the most powerful government in the world.  It is filled with a thousand offices, each busy with the orders, and paperwork, of thousands of Ministers, what once were called priests. Each Minister is the mediator between God and humanity.  The Voice is Yeshua, the Emperor, the Living Word of God.  And the Ministers work to do the will of the Voice, creating laws and policies that order the chaotic world.

            Outside the gleaming courts of Yahweh, however, Jerusalem is still being reconstructed, as is the Kingdom.  No more than 15 miles away from Jerusalem’s center, in a suburb of the continually growing city, the polished streets are exchanged for filthy, bloody remnants of the Great War. 

Maria walks quickly upon the dirty streets, wishing she had worn her sneakers instead of her fancy leather sandals.  What a way to make a first impression, she mused.  Dirty feet, sweating, hair all out of place after walking fifteen miles from the Center.  Is this the best way to meet the Emperor?  Certainly it is not the most efficient way to work.  I’ve just wasted hours walking the streets, looking for a cluster of well-dressed Ministers—wait, there they are…

            She catches up to the group, walking quickly out of an alley.  At the fore is the Emperor, with the rest of the group walking briskly behind him.  She sucks in an anxious breath, and strides forward to introduce herself.

“Chan,” she hears the Emperor speak, clearly and steadily, “whose building is this?”

“Yasser Muhammad’s, Lord.”

“Does he have the resources to get it up to code?”

Chan glances at his hand-held computer and hits a few keys.  “Yes… but he owns many buildings in this area.  I don’t know how many of them are below standard, but he certainly wouldn’t have the resources to get them all up to code, if they are all in the same shape as this one.”

“Send a Minister to Mr. Muhammad and inform him that he is to work in partnership with Mr. Jacob Eli.  All the buildings are to be in code in a year.  And please send another message to Mr. Eli, informing him of his partnership with Mr. Muhammad.”

Chan presses more keys, then mentions, “Mr. Eli, I believe, is not in good relationship with Mr. Muhammad at the moment.”

The Emperor smiles.  “An opportunity.  Wonderful.  Please note that after two weeks, should Misters Eli and Muhammad not be in cooperation, then they will be required to attend mediation toward forgiveness and the completion of the Emperor’s goals.  Got that, Chan?”

“Yes, Lord.”

The Emperor begins to walk to the next block, but notices Maria standing before him, in shock.  “Hello, Maria.”

Maria quickly gets on her knees and raises her hands before him, “O Sovereign…”

The Emperor interrupts her, “Please, we don’t have time for that now.  We have work to do.  Have we met before Maria?  You are Maria, correct?”

Maria begins to stand, “No, my Savior…”

“Tut, tut… Lord will do just fine.  Well, it is good to meet you.  I’m sure you will work out fine.  And I’m sure you have many questions.  Go ahead to the back of the pack and… um, Drew?  Could you please explain things to Maria?” He turns his head toward Maria and whispers conspiratorially,  “I find that Anglo males like to lecture, and you have some catching up to do.” Then he almost shouts across the line of heads,   “Drew, be sure to listen to her!”

A blonde-haired man in casual clothing steps forward and motions Maria toward himself.   The Emperor stops her, “Maria, one other thing.  I need a lot of folks to follow me right now—there is so much to do!  The work isn’t overwhelming but it requires effort.  Next time, please use public transportation.” He glanced toward her feet, “And use footwear that will be more comfortable for walking!”  He turns away quickly carefully examining the next block.

            Maria walks up to Drew with a questioning look.  He smiles and says, “So, you haven’t been on the Walk before?”

“This is all so confusing…”

“It’s not so hard.  Our Lord is interested in making changes throughout the Empire and he plans to do it one neighborhood at a time.”

“I don’t want to oppose our master, but this is so inefficient!  And so… undignified.”

They have to jog for a moment to keep up with the rest of the pack.

Drew says, “You are probably wondering why he is walking the street instead of making determinations in the main hall of judgment?  No doubt we all would prefer to see him there, receiving the glory that he deserves.”

“Well, yes.  It seems so strange for our Lord to be here in this… ghetto.”

“I’m sure.  The Lord says that to understand the needs of the poor, one must be with the poor and speak to them.  And it doesn’t help to bring the poor into the glorious Center to speak to them.  It intimidates them too much.  So he goes incognito, so to speak, to the poorest places in the Kingdom and improves people’s lives one by one, block by block.”

“I am never one to question my Lord’s decisions, but wouldn’t his time be better served by making policy decisions, and allowing his Ministers speak to the people?”

“He says that he never makes a single pronouncement without speaking to at least a hundred people who it will effect.  It isn’t that he doesn’t trust his Ministers—you’ll see that we are essential to the running of his government—but he says that only the poor can speak to the needs of the poor.  Even those who were once poor, like us, forget what it used to be like.  What I have never understood is that he says that he cannot even trust himself.  That every decision must be checked by personal experience by those who must live with it.  This doesn’t mean he does what each poor person says—that would be chaos.  But…wait.  See what he’s doing now?”

The Emperor had noticed a group of children playing in an empty lot.  There were maybe seven youngsters—they were moving so fast that at first it was hard to determine their number.  The Emperor stopped at the edge of the lot and crouched down, looking at them intently.  They were playing a game with a metal, round garbage lid.  They each had a stick and were all attempting to roll the lid from one side of the lot to the other.  One child would roll the lid a ways, when another child would confront her.  The first would attempt to roll the lid around the second, while another child would block the attack of the second upon the lid.  The second succeeded in knocking the lid away and then the lid fell, flat on the ground. 

“Ali, you made it fall, we get the advantage!”

Ali stepped aside, and the first girl deftly used her stick to prop the lid upright and continued to roll it toward her goal.

The Emperor walked toward Ali, and the boy started, as if the Emperor had snuck up on him.  “Hello, Ali.  Are you winning?”

Ali stared at the Emperor and asked, “Are you one of those Ministers?”

“Not exactly.”

“You glow like one.  I saw a Minister once.  But he was rushing by. Whew!” Ali motioned his arm quickly forward.

“I know.  Those Ministers are too busy to talk to anybody, huh?”

“Yeah.  So what do you want?”

“I just want to talk to you for a minute.  I won’t take you out of the game?”

“Nah.  I’m in penalty for five minutes.  I knocked the disc down.”

“Ah, that’s a disc?”

“Not a real one.  It’s a garbage lid.  But we love playing disc, so we got this.”

“I see.  Where do you live, Ali?”

“With my mama.  Our house is over there.” He points west.

“You live in a house?”

“Not a real house.  You know, we got a room in a big building.”

“Do you have any other family?”

“I got two sisters.”

“How many rooms does your apartment have?”

“Two.  And a kitchen.”

“And does your mom work?”

“She stays at home all the time.”

“What does she do?”

“She’s always tricking people.”

“Tricking people?  At home?”

“Yeah.  She always tells us that when she’s tricking people, we can’t be there, so she sends us away.  I hang out here with my friends.”

“And what do your sisters do?”

“There’s one, there.  With the stick.  She’s too good.”

“I see that.  Did she just make a goal?”

“Uh huh.  That’s why she’s jumping and all that.”

“How many points to a goal?”

“Three.  One point for an advantage.”

“Uh huh.  So could you show me where you live?”

“Well, my mama’d be pretty mad at me.”

“She doesn’t like strangers coming by?”

“She doesn’t want anyone at home unless she brings them.”

“That makes sense.  Could you ask her if I could come over?”

“You want me to go right now?”

“Well, I know you’re in the middle of the game.”

“We lost already.  My sister always wins.  I guess I could go.”

“Maybe you could bring her to me.”

“I’ll ask.  If she’s done tricking the guy.”

“Just go get her.”

Ali runs to her sister and tells her he’s going home.  She begins to command him and he ignores her and runs away.  She yells to him, to no avail.  As Ali runs around the corner, the Emperor begins jogging after him.

            Maria turns to Drew, “What is he doing?”

            Drew begins to chase the pack, following the Emperor’s lead.  “C’mon!  You want to see what happens.  I think something’s brewing.”

            As the Emperor jogged, keeping an eye on Ali, he shouts, “Alyssa!”

            A woman in the middle of the pack shouts back, “Yes, Lord?”

            “What is the current law on prostitution?”

            “Relocation, entrance into Work Assessment.”

            “Thank you, please keep up, I’ll need you on this one.”

            “Yes, Lord.”

            “Ali runs fast—keep up!”  The Emperor runs ahead to match stride with Ali.

            Maria turns to Drew, “What is the Emperor doing?”

            Drew replies, “Well, the motives of the Emperor are difficult to gage,” he says through soft pants, “but I think he’s planning on a personal assessment.”


            “Of current policy.”

            “Obviously, the boy’s mother is involved in prostitution.  The Emperor’s policy is to find prostitutes alternative work, but this one slipped through the cracks.  He wants to find out why.”

            “Why doesn’t he just call the police and have her relocated?” 

            “I don’t know.  Let’s find out.”

            The whole pack remains unseen as they enter a run down tower and occupy a lobby the paper of which is falling off of the walls.  The smell of urine fills their nostrils, and dark stains mark the floor.  The Emperor speaks, “Chan?  Who owns this building?”

“Yasser Muhammad, Lord.  Same as the last building.”

“Interesting.  Please make an appointment for me to see Mr. Muhammad.  We need to speak directly to him of the gifts he is offering the community.”

Above them, they hear Ali cry, “MAMA!  You done?  There’s a Minister want to talk to you.”  They climb up the stairs, following Ali’s path. 

            As they approached the open door (Ali, as all young boys, has yet to learn to close doors), they could hear Ali’s mother speaking quietly but harshly, “What have I told you about coming during the day?  Shut up and close the door!”

            The Emperor motioned toward Alyssa, “Approach with me, please.”

            Just as the mother was closing the door, she saw the Emperor and Alyssa.  “Oh dear God.”

            The Emperor smiled, “Yes, that’s right.  Could you let us in, please?”  The mother stares for a moment, and then turns away, sits on her worn couch, face in her hands.

            The Emperor leaves the door open, sits on the floor, and Alyssa stands next to him.  They interview her for an hour.  At first Janice refused to say anything, but eventually she believed him when he said that she is not in trouble, he just wanted to hear her story.   After it was clear that he already knew all of the shameful facts of her life, she lit into him, blaming him for her situation.  The work assessment was a fraud, she asserted, they had no intention of helping her.  They had no idea of her needs, so she left and went back to the ghetto.  Eventually she got this apartment and got what work she could to support her children.  Yes, the work happened to be illegal, but what could she do?

            The Emperor bows his head for a moment and then returns to Janice, “I want to apologize, my dear.  I know that it was never your intention to leave your children on the street as you attempt to make rent and food through this shameful method.  You have been through my system and I have failed you and those who are like you.  I hope that you will help me correct this situation right now.  You are essential to my plans in assisting other women, that none of you would ever have to face this situation again.  Are you willing to help?”

            Janice looked stunned, and simply nodded.  The Emperor smiled and said, “Thank you, so much.  You don’t know what this means to so many people.  Alyssa?”

            “Yes, Lord.”

“I’d like you to pack Janice and her children and bring them to the palace.  We need to do a full evaluation of her situation and of where the system failed her.  Perhaps it is in a single, uncaring worker, but perhaps the work assessment didn’t find her qualified work.  Whatever the case, I want to make sure that she is cared for and evaluated fairly.”

            “Where will I keep her, Lord?”

            “In your apartment.  You will be granted another three rooms, adjacent to your own.  Your current task is to evaluate her situation, following up on every contact.  We must rush this, so I want a full report in a month.”

            Alyssa’s eyes went wide briefly, then responded, “Yes, Lord.”

            The Emperor smiled.  “Fine!”  He turns to the pack, still standing outside the door, “Shall we go on?”

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