Monday, February 1, 2010

51 Good Things about Unemployment

51. You can find things of historic value like this big-eyed card from Hallmark’s Heart Warmer’s collection. This find reminds me of when I visited the Precious Moments Park with some good friends. Here is my story about that experience originally published on June 30, 2005, in a now-defunct weekly newspaper called F5.

My cup runneth over at Precious Moments Park

“You really can’t smoke in here?” asked Donnie. “Then, what is this?”

He pointed to an empty concrete flower pot the approximate size of Texas—not Missouri, indeed perfect for a billion or so cigarette butts. The three of us ignored him. Donnie was unconvinced of the humor in our visit to Precious Moments Park in Carthage, Missouri. Michael, Barbara and I had planned this trip a year ago because, of course, life is full of precious moments.

After handing over $46 in admission fees including the senior discount, we hurried to the scheduled show at the Fountain of Angels, where 300 teardrop-eyed statues would spray 100,000 gallons of water in a 10-story blackened building. All this built by Sam Butcher, an evangelist Christian who found Jesus in creating cute figurines and selling them to poor folks earning $15 million a year.

As we found our primo seats in the Fountain Pavilion, thunder clapped and rain roared. The downpour streamed into the building, flowing from a light fixture and pooling on the show room floor. Kids played in the puddles while adults worried they would be electrocuted.

Michael and I were only concerned the show would not go on, as we were told after our ticket purchase that the program would be “powered down” should lighting occur. When the first thunder spoke, we looked at each other and muttered in unison in the midst of the religious crowd, “Oh, shit!” Electrocution was not more important than getting our money’s worth from this planned life event.

The show did go on. The five miles of water pipes and 550 valves were manipulated with electronic precision creating dramatic showers and an occasional 75-foot geyser. Water surged and slowed while recorded hymns climaxed and fell. The 42nd Psalm provided guidance.

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
--Psalm 42:1

From the depth of life’s greatest trials, the triumph of flowing jets was illustrated with red, yellow, green and purple lights and crescendos of glorious gush from speakers tuned to the Lord.

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
--Psalm 42:7

Out of a heavy mist, the climax was realized. As a projection slowly materialized, we see a draped figure leaving the Precious Moments Chapel. He is walking toward us. He is Jesus Christ. The waterfalls swell as the angels sing glory to God. I lean toward Michael and whisper, “It looks just like him.”

As we exit the Fountain Pavilion with the low-density crowd and view the concrete angels and fishes for the last time, the lights falter. The entire Park is without electricity. The show cannot continue.

We will miss Duke Mason sing Elvis and the gospel. Mason, who is a well-proportioned 46 inches, ushers us out of the Pavilion saying we will have to return another day to see his performance.

I look at our tickets, which boldly state, “All sales final. No refunds.”

Great is the Lord. How can I say thanks for all the things you’ve done.

If you would like to read Good Things numbered 26 through 50, see the entry entitled, 50 Good Things about Unemployment, posted on January 31, 2010.

If you would like to read Good Things numbered 1 through 25, see the entry entitled, 25 Good Things about Unemployment, posted on January 6, 2010.

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