Retrospect: Jones and Smith, and God(?)

Self-tutoring about people and events from the past: the tutor mentions two he well remembers….

They weren’t really called Jones and Smith. Albeit with different names, however, these were real people – as real as I was. We were all twelve, ending grade 6 then starting 7.

Jones was my friend from grade 5 – he was tough but had a big heart, though he tried to keep it hidden. Smith may’ve changed later, but he was a thug when I knew him. Yet, Jones liked rough stuff more than I did, so he hung out with Smith when they were looking for bigger trouble than I was comfortable with. Such was my understanding, anyhow.

I don’t know when Jones met Smith, but I think Smith was a military kid who joined our school at the start of grade 6. That year, they may’ve shared the same class; neither was in mine. Jones and I hung out on the weekends sometimes, but didn’t spend as much time around school as we had in grade 5.

On the other hand, Smith and Jones went out often just them. They lived close to each other, whereas I lived about three miles away, in another village. On a school night I couldn’t practically go over to Jones’s, but it was easy for them to hang out anytime.

Neither told me what they did just the two of them, nor was I curious. However, I think they met up with “bad” (likely quite innocent, but “bad” in that context) people whom I never knew. I imagine they drank, smoked, partied, and fought with those people. None of those pursuits was I interested in, so they never mentioned them to me.

Like many thugs, Smith was more vulnerable mentally than physically. It’s true, he was a big strong guy, easily eclipsing Jones and me. Yet, Smith lacked Jones’s imagination. It was a weapon Jones used playfully, yet liberally, on Smith, and it fed an interesting dynamic:

Jones strongly believed in God, but Smith wasn’t sure. (All the locals were very religious, but of course Smith was a military kid, so not from there.) The immediate result was another contrast: Jones wasn’t afraid of dying, Hell, or anything like that, because he thought God had his back. Oppositely, Smith did fear all those, since he wasn’t even sure there is a God.

On a Saturday, walking from here to there (we never got rides) looking for action, or just hanging out somewhere between destinations, Smith often brought up religion and why he wasn’t sure about it. I think he hoped Jones would convince him: then, Smith could enjoy the self-assurance Jones did. However, Jones either couldn’t convince Smith there’s a God who cares, or else he just decided not to. I think maybe Jones enjoyed their philosophical discussions about God, but could tell they would end if Smith became a believer.

So, many a Saturday, from early afternoon until dark, I’d listen to the intermittent back-and-forth between Smith and Jones about God. Somehow it elevated us, that conversation. Watching the sun fade, I could tell that we were meant to be where we were, even as we sat in a dugout of a deserted baseball diamond or on steps of a deserted building we’d never enter. Smith didn’t mean to elevate us – he was just afraid and wanted answers. Jones gave answers that were good enough for himself, but not for Smith; I listened.

I’ve more to tell about Jones and Smith, now I’ve laid the groundwork:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

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