It is good to be alive. I should be grateful. And it’s good to know that my faith in Jesus Christ was well placed, there really was a resurrection of the dead. And I’m in it. But this isn’t what I expected. I thought that when I died, I’d be in heaven. I figured all my sins were forgiven, so I was as good a Christian as any other.
My Zoë says it isn’t about that. He says it’s about Kingdom life. I wasn’t ready for Kingdom life. Too much living as if it was all about me. I’m not sure about that, but he insists this is what Jesus told him about me. Like a case file or something. So, my Zoë says I’m to put into my journal some stuff about me. He says as I do that, I might see a pattern. I know what he means. He wants me to look for my pattern of failures.
I shouldn’t be too bummed. It’s lovely here. The weather is just gorgeous day after day. I’ve go a nice home. People are great. I’ll have a job next week he says, and in the meantime, my instructions are to relax and meditate on my life and try to recall my meeting with Jesus. You’d think that wouldn’t be possible to forget, but for us Bios, it can be like recalling a dream. Arjun, my Zoë, insists that I met Jesus in heaven before being resurrected and He explained it all to me. I only have to recall it.
That’s another surprise. My Zoë, Arjun, is Hindu. “Was Hindu,” he says. “What are you now?” I asked him. “A child of God,” he says. I thought I was a child of God, back in the day. I went to church all my life, sang in the choir when I was a young man, tithed regularly. And I tithed well, too. I made good money. Great money, really. I lived well and my tithe was probably bigger than a lot of the incomes for some people in my church. I was one of the 10% in America who keep most churches on the road. And it didn’t stop there. I gave money to the George Slater Hour of Radio Evangelism for years. George’s broadcasts were heard around the world. I asked Arjun about them. Did he hear them there in India? He said no. So, what kind of Bible radio or TV did he follow? I asked I figured even if he says he was a Hindu, he had to have been a secret Christian. He said, “This isn’t about me. It’s about you.” When I pressed him on it, he said we could talk about him another day. I’m really curious how a Hindu ends up with Zoë life, and I got this.
Not that I’m complaining, mind you. As I said, nice digs. I feel as if I’m on vacation at some Caribbean resort. If Arjun dressed the part, he could well be my waiter. He looks the part, sort of. Not Afro-Caribbean, but very dark skinned. Not that I’ve got anything against dark skinned people. I hired people at my investment firm regardless of color or creed or any of that. It wasn’t my fault the only qualified people I found were white men. I was good to my janitors. Paid above minimum wage. They got health insurance, a 401k, two weeks vacation. The janitors, mind you. I treated people well. Half my secretaries were Asians, a couple were black. I could see the office pool on my way to my office suite. My firm was voted one of Chicago’s “Top 500 Places to Work” in 1997.
So, about me. Wayne Bailey. Born April 21st, 1968. The Summer of Love, my mom used to say. Mom thinks I was conceived while she was reading the Lord of the Rings the winter before, and named me Aragorn. Her mother and father (I never met them, they died when I was two) threw a fit so she suggested Gawain, after the Green Knight of King Arthur’s Round Table. Before my name got registered, her parents got her to agree to Wayne. That was Mom. Fairy tales. My first years were spent in a commune in California. I got my first shoes at five. I got stoned a lot when I was little, passing joints to the adults I’d puff a bit. Enough that they thought I was a funny kid. First acid trip at 12. Bad bad bad. Everything looked smeared. It took me a long time to find that word to describe the squalor of my childhood in the commune. I know, not all communes were like that. Ours was. We even had our own Uncle Ernie, as in the rock opera Tommy, who molested some of the kids. Not me, but I was surely on his radar.
So I left the commune and when the cops picked me up in Utah, at 12 I looked 16 and was big enough to hitchhike a bit, at 12 the Utah cops contacted the California version of Child Protective Services, and I was never sent back to my mother’s commune. Mom showed up to the hearing on acid. I knew it, even if the judge didn’t.
My foster parents were good people. Solid Christian people. Dad — the only Dad I ever knew — was a banker. Mother did charity work. Solid people. It was the exact opposite of the commune. It wasn’t a smear of color and shape and fluttering banners and the whole Yurt thing of the commune. Delineated. Steady. Sure. I gave myself to that life, and in doing that, I gave myself to Jesus Christ. I got serious about school — the first formal schooling I ever had. There was a lot to catch up to. But I will say this, I was ahead in some ways. Much better read than a lot of the kids — Mom had an old set of Great Books of the Western World in her yurt that she got at the Salvation Army. And “Uncle Ernie” in the commune, when he wasn’t molesting kids, taught math — had been a scientist of some kind.
But Dad, as I said, was a banker. And he showed me how it was done. How money was made. We weren’t one of the 1% of the country, with homes in Europe and a private jet. We were in the top 10%, though. A large home, an estate I’m sure some would call it. Mexican cleaning and grounds staff. Private school and tutoring when they saw I was serious about catching up on my studies. The Lexus was leased new each year.
I always figured, since I came up from being a shoeless commune brat, that anyone could make it as well as I did. It took application. Maybe a few lucky breaks, but most “lucky breaks” we make by seizing our opportunities. I could have been a slacker. The Baileys (I took Dad’s last name) had some previous foster kids who were. I could have felt sorry myself or resented them for the years before I was fostered. Other kids did. It’s attitude. It’s all in your attitude toward life.
And that’s what made me a success. That’s why I was one of the financial pillars of the church. I put in long hours making my money, hours I tithed to God through the money I earned. And the last year of my life, I had a big windfall and I tithed that, too. One of the small firms I had snapped up on the side had developed some medical device. And it caught the eye of one of the big firms in the industry. So they bought out my firm for cash and stock. Sales of this device through their firm took off like a jet and made everyone a boatload of money, including me. My last year I was rolling in the dough. I wish Mr. Bailey could have seen it. Mother Bailey was in an Alzheimer’s Center, and Mom, well, lets say I don’t think she would have cared about the money I made. In fact, I have no idea where she is now. Once the Baileys took me in, I only saw her one more time. I was fourteen, and she came to my birthday party. On acid.