The Rounds: Excerpt

The Rounds
The Rounds

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text by Joseph Zitt

photos by Chelsey E Stewart

6:13 AM, 18 May 2007

Tux in the Flower Bed
Tux in the Flower Bed

Most of the time, my stuffed linux penguin, Tux, gazes benevolently from my window onto the busy intersection below. He’s usually happy to stay there, but apparently wanderlust got the better of him this evening.

I did my rounds as usual tonight, getting to the church at about 1:45 after having gotten off my other job at half past midnight and caught the first All-Nighter bus home.

The rounds were mundane. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary for much of it. No doors or windows had been left open, and no one was asleep on the grounds. (On the previous night, a young, polite man was lying on the church steps when I arrived, gazing at the sky, his head resting on his backpack. I introduced myself as the security guy and said that, while he could continue to enjoy the night sky, he couldn’t fall asleep there. By the time I looked out of the narthex onto the steps a few minutes later, he was gone.) Someone had tucked what looked like an infant’s cap into the handle of the door of the childcare center, but everything else there seemed Ok.

When I came up out of the child care center, however, a spot of bright yellow caught my eye. looking more closely, I saw Tux, nestled comfortably at the corner of a flower bed where I’d be sure to see him, secure by a sturdy drainpipe. I was, of course, surprised. Assuming that my Tux was still at his post in my window, I realized that this might not be my penguin. Here in Berkeley, there are lots of linux enthusiasts (though major figures in one of linux’s friendly rivals in the field of UNIX-like systems, BSD, live across the street). He was the right size, but I couldn’t recall whether my Tux wore the lapel button that this one had. I decided to pick him up and take him with me. If, when I looked up at my window, my Tux was still there, I would put him back by the drainpipe.

I completed my rounds through the parish hall with this Tux nestled in the crook of my arm. He accompanied me through the halls as I turned the appropriate lights on and off, shut blinds that had been left open, stepped onto the back balcony and scanned the playground with my flashlight, walked the perimeter of the labyrinth checking that the windows were shut, and checked the doors and windows of the kitchen.

Coming around from the church driveway and back onto the street, I looked up at my window and saw that Tux indeed was not there. I had apparently left the window open, and he must have plummeted out. Fortunately, a two-story fall isn’t too hazardous for a well-stuffed plush bird, and neither dogs nor rain nor gloom of night seemed to have bothered him at all.

How he got to the church, however, was a mystery. The street between my home and the church is hazardous, and, even if a six-inch penguin were to take it upon himself to waddle across, he might not understand traffic lights, and would probably not be seen by the cars. even then, he would have had to have known to go the church, hopped up a couple of feet onto the flowerbed, and positioned himself where I would see him.

More likely, of course, is that a human helped him. Whoever it was would have to have spotted him on the ground, recognized where he came from, known that the window was mine, known that I worked at the church, and placed him where I was likely to find him.

Tux is home now, sitting on my lap as I write this. He will resume his post at the window soon, but I will be more conscientious about keeping him from falling out the window.

The senior pastor at the church speaks frequently of “miracles of grace” that keep happening there. This is another, even if it is only (only?!) grace, however you define it, moving a kindly person to help a prodigal stuffed bird to return home. For this, much thanks.

1:41 AM, 27 Feb 2007

The Wedding Bears
The Wedding Bears

Word is apparently spreading of the congregation’s friendliness to animals, even of the stuffed variety. (I wonder if Tux has WiFi enabled.) A pair of teddy bears have appeared, nestled against the main doors to the Parish Hall. From their garb, they are apparently waiting to be married. I’m not sure, however, if California allows a human pastor to perform the ceremony, so we may have to consult our legal eagles (assuming that the birds do not turn out to be stuffed turkeys).

The bears appear to be safe from the rain, so I left them there to be greeted by someone who might know where they might actually belong.

2:11 AM, 28 Feb 2007

When I did my rounds tonight, I found the bears still outdoors. They looked like they’d been knocked around a bit, and the one in the tuxedo had lost a shoe.

I’ve granted their pleas for sanctuary, and have placed them on the great table in the nave, where they are gazing upon the tall cross and multicultural flags and, I hope, feeling warm and safe. Perhaps someone who comes to the Wednesday event tonight will be able to discern what further to do with them.

(Addendum: On May 7th, the church treasurer wrote: “The bears are still coming to Sunday morning services. We’ll let you know when they finally get around to asking for a wedding ceremony. Undoubtedly they’ll want you to be their Best Man!”)

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