Deck Cheatham: Daniel and me

Deck Cheatham

During those times when life wrenches from me a comfort of which I’ve become fond, and harshness disrupts and confounds me, my mind fades and drifts into the wind that is my friend Daniel’s spirit. Daniel was our black caddy master at the country club. Unable to read or write, Daniel didn’t need intellect to bridge our two worlds, only his gentle, sweet spirit. Daniel loved me before I knew the meaning of that word or owned the courage to say it. Years and ambition finally separated us, and maybe by now, death. But his presence in me remains anchored.

Daniel gave himself without thought to that significance. His nature couldn’t formulate such a predisposition. Hustling carts and bags for white folk while saying "yesah" and "nosah" drives a man either to anger or defeat. Daniel revealed neither. Humility permeated his every pore and I was graced to bathe in it and be loved by it. His love for me is a deep well from which I draw a sustaining spirit when life’s harshness dehydrates me. When his memory arrests my attention, I hear Scripture’s call and remember.

Jesus tells a similar story about a certain man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves, who stripped him, wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead. A priest and Levite, indifferent, passed him by on the other side of the road. Only the Samaritan had compassion and tended to this man beyond expectation.

There are four men in the story. Three we know something about. But the certain man, beyond his predicament, we must guess. Of this man, we know he went down, and down, at least metaphorically, is worse than up. Don’t all men, like Adam, go down? Some men, like the priest and Levite, codify down into a self-ward inclination embracing importance as they see it.

Daniel may have on some level rejected significance or knew to aspire to it would be met with harshness. I did not. My ensuing years pursued it with vigor. Only hindsight and grace have shown me the sin it is, and worse, the many sins begotten by its pursuit. Justifying them was such a short walk to presumption, which was just another means of sinning myself away from Scripture. I knew I was right because my ambition told me I had to be. Determined to create heaven-on-earth, all these little supposed-tos crept into my thinking, and if I had to live up to them, so did everyone else. Collective thought must begin somewhere. Why not pride? Sin pride.

I often wonder where the Samaritan was before our certain man left Jerusalem. Maybe he could have warned him. Maybe someone did. Maybe the man didn’t listen. The story suggests he was somewhat unaware. And isn’t this Daniel and me?

Of men,

each walks the road,

confused sometimes about up and down,

about god and God.

Daniel be light in me,

Gospel in me,

Spirit in me.

God in me,

Unify me.

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for some 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Please visit his blog at deckcheatham.com. Email him at pgadeacon@gmail.com.

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