Free/Gratis

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It called to me as it rested in the shade somewhat near the trunk of a beautiful Jacaranda tree. I caught sight of it from the corner of my eye as I drove by on the winding road. There was a sign on it and I had to know what it said. I turned around and parked, grabbing my phone to take pictures.

I was in curious awe as I approached slowly shooting with every step as I drew near. It felt as though there was a mystical secret sitting there. It was something wise with stories to tell.

It was beautifully comforting, yet sadly lost. It was alone in the filigree shade of the unkempt branches of the tree. The breeze tickled the leaves and light danced across the dusty brown and lavender earth. The flowers rained down exclaiming their delicate existence.

There was yard with a house in the distance hidden behind dumpsters, cars and mounds of dirt with dying weeds. The roof was shy a few shingles and the salmon paint faded where the sun killed the once living color. They just threw it away—dragged it to the curb.

I wanted to save it. I wanted to take it home with me.

It was cozy looking and inviting. It rested quietly drawing me in and when I saw what was written on the torn cardboard sign I stopped in my tracks. The sign was snuggled deeply in its soft leathery body speckled with fragrant flowers. Lazily scrawled across the un-extraordinary piece of discarded box were the words “Free/Gratis.”

It was free, but it wasn’t free. It had no choice in being there. It was abandoned, no longer wanted, tossed aside like an old pair of shoes or a once loved friend. But I saw that it was good. I saw its potential and wondered how many hours it held someone close in comforting safety. I was certain it had secrets.

As I took pictures, it spoke to me of happier times. It cried for missing the now grown boys who jumped and flew from its greatest height. It laughed at the joy of reconciliations and those funny shows on TV. Mom always sought its warm embrace when she was sad which gave more purpose to its life.

Here, on the side of the road. Left to watch and wait. I cried. So, I removed that sign and I enjoyed a foreign rest—one like no other. It was a special experience only that chair could offer.

† By God’s grace.