3. A time for every purpose
Depending on who I was listening to, the months following my US getaway were a mixture of refusing confusion and rebuilding confidence. Every so often my family let me know how much out of order I was. Could I not see my running away was a typical outworking of my mental illness? (No sorry, I couldn’t, and still can’t). I was treated accordingly. I reminded them that if I indeed was ill, I needed even more care and understanding, not condemnation. It’s the sick that need help, not the healthy. To a normal teenager a father can’t do anything right at the best of times. How could I possibly gain my children’s respect as a mentally ill father?
On the other hand I still noticed signs, small clues that I had many supporters, albeit they stayed clear of any positive, direct communication. The co-incidental road trauma and plane crash data (as per previous chapter) were obvious clues to my brain that God was at work. But there were many more mini miracles. I took each as confirmation from God that what I was doing was in his will. Without these little grains of sand, often linked to encouraging scriptures, I may never have had the endurance to keep on believing in my mission.
One example comes to mind; car registration numbers again. Taking Jon to school I noticed at the traffic lights a car WLI 501 waiting to turn at lights. As the lights turned green and the car drove off, another car followed, trying to catch the same traffic lights. His registration number was WLJ 501. In a city of a million people I think the odds are remote for this to happen, unless the vehicles were linked. (They looked different from each other). I was puzzled.
Numerous times I would wake up in the middle of the night and knew by the time on the clock radio that something special was going to happen. Often God would reveal to me information about certain issues that later occupied space in the media. During the hours spent in prayer wonderful thoughts flooded my mind. Often I would receive insight into matters that in my normal thinking I could never have seen or understood.
One such issue was a new program in sex-education. It was reported that it was trialed in 14 Highschools around South Australia without consulting parents. The content was so explicit that even married people feel embarrassed to talk about such inappropriate, intimate matters (see News-Update 04/07/03). For a number of days this issue filled Radio talk-back programs and newspapers. Our Federal Member of Parliament brought up the issue in Parliament, Canberra. A concerned group organised public meetings to alert parents.
Something inside me quietly said - keep calm, it is only an attempt by extreme forces to stir Christians. My suspicion was that other issues were behind this program. I felt my fears where justified after I noticed names of people involved. I came across street names, e.g. one school was in Beaumont Road. Whyalla High School was among the 14. One person's name was Gibson (= give son). That’s why I did not distribute any leaflets outside Smithfield Plains Highschool, which I had initially offered to do. I suspected there was a higher, hidden agenda.
(At the time of writing a serious dispute at Craigmore Highschool dominated our Newspaper's front page headline. I could see right through the issue).
My main business was running the driving school. The names of students (e.g. Mitchell, or their address (e.g. Enmore St, Dauncey Rd,,dates of birth or even a permit number often triggered my linking brain into full alert. Often there would be combinations of factors or the translation of the name into German (Fromm = pius), some which astounded and amused me at the same time.
One lady, aged around 40, was having a refresher lesson to learn gear changing. I don’t plan the exact route where to take a learner. By sheer fluke (or what ever was guiding me) I directed my client to do a 3-point turn in her suburb. The street I chose was called Mitchell Ave., the number on the letterbox was 5. As we completed the manoeuvre I noticed two boys, one in a black jumper and the other in red top walk by. One of them displayed the number 88 in large print.
That same afternoon we were visiting the Barossa Valley, a tourist region about an hour’s drive from Adelaide. I was showing two visitors, staying with us from Germany, around the famous region. As we strolled down the main street of Tanunda, I could not help notice two ladies exit a vehicle. As they crossed the road I spotted one wearing a black top, the other a red one. Then I read the car registration number; it was 088. My mind immediately recalled the the co-incident of the three-point-turn that morning.
My brain picked up this type of linking without trying. Other co-incidences still crossed my mind regularly. On a quiz show on TV I watched a bald-headed man being introduced. He was watching his wife taking part in “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” The hairless, round faced man reminded me so much of the Pastor of the church we used to attend; the same person who I happened to meet on the flight to Melbourne on March 29th. The young bald headed man on TV was not only a look-a-like, but had the identical Christian name.
The same phenomenon took place on a US produced news program. When I am home early enough from driving lessons I watch the Newshour occasionally on our SBS TV Channel. A leadership change at the New York Times Newspaper was reported. A lady was projected onto the screen. For a moment I was taken back, thinking my sister Anita, who lives in Alabama, came onto the screen. To top it off, the lady shown had the same surname as that of my sister, my only relative outside Germany.
I recently discovered that I could play nicely with the names of my two sisters, Christa and Anita, both containing a T (cross) and one consisting of little more than the name of our Lord himself. As happened with numbers, I slowly added to my list of letters, apart from n, c, p etc. I had almost reached the stage where any number or name could be read as being significant. I realized more and more that this would be self defeating.
There is a time for every purpose under heaven, said King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived. Maybe the game with numbers and names was slowly coming to an end. It may have served its purpose in revealing interesting, powerful facts by sheer magic. Spotting clues in car registration numbers, Tradesmen’s names or bus stop signs etc. gave my brain many messages, useful or otherwise. As the year 2003 progressed I ignored them, especially when it hinted that I again should “go, flee, move, fly out etc.”
(At the time of writing (Aug. 03) I had just returned from a meeting - the person beside me seemed to point to two words on the printed page - "Go again". This person knew about my first going).
Removalists vans were a constant source of teasing to my brain, especially when I would see the same one two or three times during one driving lesson. The name “Allied”, if I read it in a certain way, is such a simple message. (We have numerous kinds of businesses in Adelaide who call themselves Allied... But I had learned to obey ONE voice, the one inside getting messages through to me in HIS own gentle way.
One Wednesday morning in June, on the way to my Speaker’s Club, I overtook a bicycle rider on Main North Road, a busy divided road with an 80 km/h speed limit. It was still very dark. He was dressed in black top, black trousers, black helmet and no lights. How stupid and risky when there was provision for cyclists on the footpath? I could picture a cyclist hit by a car at any moment and dying on the road. Was I meant to?
In late June 03 I heard a song on Radio 5 DN, the station that I originally contacted regarding my doubts about Peter Liddy, the convicted paedophile. I also overheard an advertisement which resulted in the following letter to the popular radio host:
Mr. J. C.
Radio 5 DN
North Adelaide SA 5006
Whine and dine
Had you not mentioned Phillip Adams on air just then, I would have had doubts about my little excursion today to Tynte Street. Early this morning I tuned into 5 DN and heard the song “When will I see you again”. Today is perfect timing.
This reminded me of the incomplete hat-trick - You need one more of my business cards to make it three in your collection. Well, attached is my very last one (what co-incidence) and it shall join the other two, if you have kept them.
Do you think the Doona people could handle mine? You see, I have been a bed wetter since I was young, very young. Thank goodness, it slowly peeetered out; I had my embarrassing moments in my teens. But lately, it has started again. No, I’m not that old, it’s bed wetting for a different reason.
In the mornings when I get up, I kneel and pray. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by my emotion I have wet dreams. The tears flow freely and saturate the doona. Your friends with 50 years experience ought to be able to handle it, you think?
You probably expected a different wine and dine proposal, but who knows, perhaps we can celebrate something, sometimes, somewhere if any of my dreams come true. There is a good change they all will. As long as His will be done not Is’ will.
Kind regards and have an ice day,
PS I must ring again someday on air. The sage goes an and an.
I delivered the letter personally to the station’s receptionist on June 24th 03. Straight after I visited a Superannuation Seminar in the city. At first I could not find the venue, walking into the deserted Festival Centre instead. To rush to the Entertainment Centre, where I thought it is held, would have been too late. So I strolled along North Terrace, admiring the new Convention Centre. It is huge and reported to be able to cater for up to 7000 delegates at a time. No way would this be the venue for my Seminar.
But it was. I noticed people walking towards a smaller side building and I simply followed the crowd. I was just on time for the 1pm start and expected to pay my $ 10 non-member entrance fee. What a surprise, I was ushered in for free. My reason for attending was the guest speaker, David K. He is the co-host of a popular breakfast program on TV, which I have used to “off-load” the occasional fun-email. This was the one I was suggesting to play a trick with my wife Isobel, (about the colours of the ties worn in chapter 54).
As it turned out superannuation was not a subject that got my adrenalin pumping. I would have enjoyed the free coffee afterwards, but couldn’t stay. (A few months later there would be another opportunity to brush against the celebrities). I did not want to risk getting a parking fine. It would have been interesting to say “Hi” to a TV celebrity, but I was sure there would be five hundred competitors in the queue.
I wondered what it would be like, if your face was recognized by everybody; when your biggest problem of the day is - how to dodge the paparazzi. Until a few years ago I thought paparazzi was a popular pizza topping; one especially for fathers.