He thought I was “Just” an old car…
An instrument of hope.
I remember the day when James first saw me. He walked around me and took a long look as he stepped on the acorns which had fallen from the trees nearby. My odometer had stopped at over 100,000 miles so he had no idea how many miles I had given to my owners. He paid $1,000 cash and drove me away. I doubt he ever expected at this point in his life to be driving a 16 year old Ford Crown Victoria.
Three weeks later as he backed me into a hotel after being on a 5 day and night meth binge he did not know that I was already watching out for him. James did not know that I saw his future much more clearly than he ever did…as he drove me to purchase drugs to stop his pain he did not know that I knew his heart, his pain, and his potential. He did not know that an old car had been given a new purpose. He did not know I had been given the mission to make his future possible.
James did not know that as the police looked for him I would be an instrument of his salvation. I waited patiently for 4 days in the impound lot for him to once again drive me away. I knew he would return for me. You see, I knew I had a great mission ahead of me and I knew James was just beginning to find his purpose.
I carried him and his blessed mother back to his home in Alpharetta. I waited as they loaded me with what was left of his possessions and then I made sure they made it to his childhood home in Huntsville so that he could begin his new life.
I faithfully carried James to meetings and church services as he sought help to heal from years spent hiding from his pain. I waited at his parent’s house as day after day he took long walks while he searched for the future that I knew awaited him.
James did not know that I understood his money was mostly gone. He did not know that I would push myself beyond mechanical expectations as he used what was left of his resources to help others while he helped himself. He did not know I had a mission as clear as his own. For 4 years I carried him where he needed to be with almost no care for my well-being. He managed to give me the gas and oil I needed and nothing more. When he and his intern Sara went to Birmingham to learn about ways to help the homeless I let him know my transmission needed attention. I remember the relief I felt when Sara told James why I was only able to move at 40 miles per hour on the Interstate. I pushed myself to get them home then I heaved a silent sigh of relief when James managed to have my transmission fluid changed. This was all I needed to continue my mission. Again I was able to carry him where he needed to be. When my front tires eventually wore out I showed him the steel belts so he knew he needed to replace them. I waited while he found the means then once again we moved forward. You see, I knew what James was only learning. I knew that by fulfilling my purpose I was helping to save lives. I knew that James needed this to survive the loneliness that often surrounded him and still does.
During the past 3 years I have listened to James talk to young people and adults as I moved them from place to place. These people were often simply looking for someone to listen to them. I have been the most honored car in existence because I was able to help James listen and offer hope and love to so many people. I have carried food and clothes to the homeless. My trunk has served as a table to feed people in need. James did not know that I did not mind when my paint was scratched and rubbed off by food containers. James did not know that day long ago that I knew my future and his.
On many occasions God and I were the only ones to see James’ tears. We felt his determination. We knew his loneliness. We knew his purpose was greater than any obstacles that might try to hinder his mission. I knew my role was to help to move him past physical obstacles while his spirit moved him past the emotional pains that tried to bar his way. Together we overcame many public and private obstacles.
James did not know that I would be with him for so long. I doubt he suspected my own determination to be part of his life. I knew what was to come and I had every intention of being part of his journey. He never suspected that a car could be given such a purpose in its old age.
I am proud to say that James has survived just as I knew he would. His pain has become a public voice which he uses to move our community forward just as I have moved him forward.
For months I drove him without turn signals while I warned him constantly that I needed help. Even with my determination I knew there were mechanical limits to what I was able to do to help him. I pushed forward while Susan and Ron stepped up to drive him when he feared I would no longer be able to complete simple trips to the office and his speaking engagements. I want to thank Susan and Ron for giving me a much needed rest. You see, we all sometimes need rest. I stay concerned for James because he doesn’t take much time for himself. He is driven by purpose just as I have been driven by my responsibility to help him.
Recently friends realized I needed help to continue supporting James. They took me in and revived my engine. They fixed my turn signals. They have given me more time to fulfill my purpose and to witness the love and hope that I saw in James’ future when he drove me home 4 years ago. That day was the beginning of my greatest journey and I am thankful that an old car was given this opportunity.
I think James realizes now that I am much more than an old car. He knows now that I was to be part of a truly amazing journey. We have travelled many miles together. We have been together on countless days and nights when we did not know where money for my gas would come from or how much longer I would be able to support him.
I sit outside the office you see in the picture as I wait to take him on his next journey. Perhaps it will be to pick up people for a dinner at the office tonight. Perhaps it will be a trip to Birmingham tomorrow so that he can be part of plans to develop a new homeless shelter for youth in that great city. Whatever it is I will do my best to be here for him and for the people he loves so dearly. You see, I am more than ‘Just an old car.” I am a fortunate and blessed tool and I am thankful to part of James’ life. No one knows how long we will have but I have done the best I could and I have seen a community grow around James during the past 3 years while he created GLBT Advocacy & Youth Services. I have witnessed and been part of his personal survival. I continue to witness his loneliness at times. I still see the tears but now with the tears that come from stress and sadness I also see tears of joy.
We are all capable of being instruments of good. We are all able to make the world a better place. We simply have to choose the road toward good. We can’t wait for opportunities. We must sometimes make opportunities. I am thankful to be more than “Just an old car.” I am and have been an opportunity.
- A proud & happy 1993 Ford Crown Victoria
An Instrument of Hope