Korean War Veteran—the sign said—financially indignant. Please help.
“What does financially indignant mean?” I ask.
The phrase struck me as odd. An old man with a grey beard sat in a chair outside the Taco Bell of Kettleman City—a voice crying out in the desert.
“It means you can’t pay your bills,” Mom said.
“If you’re homeless, do you have bills?” Tommy asked.
We are driving again, and this time we are in the middle of nowhere between Kettleman City and Fresno on our way to the snow. The people you meet on the road to where you are going is always interesting.
If I had been by myself, I would have gone and talked to him, but I didn’t want to keep my family waiting inside the Taco Bell while I talked to some man about God knows what. You’d think all homeless people are the same, but when you get up close you realize that some have freckles and some don’t, some are black and some are white, and some like Bush and some voted for Kerry.
A few months ago I was talking to a homeless man who told me about his bar fights, his arrests, and the time he pulled a knife on someone. Jesus Christ is sometimes uncomfortable.
As we drive through the desert, I have noticed a lot of dead trees. The winds and the winter have killed them. The smells in the countryside are stronger than in the city. Passing farms we smell the cows and the underbelly of California. Contrary to popular belief, there is more to California than exciting Los Angeles and San Diego.
And I wonder if John the Baptist would have come to the Los Angeles’ of the world or if he we have gone, as he had back then, to the countryside—baptizing them in the aqueducts of the rural farms.
“Repent,” he said, “For the ax has come to grind the trees that produce no fruit.”
And another voice greater than some Korean War Veteran outside of Taco Bell speaks into the darkness.
“Repent,” he says. “For the Kingdom of heaven is near.”