Just the facts Jack: A very short Covenant story

X-mas 2001

by Ken Olson


Getting off the plane last March at Kansai airport in Osaka Japan gave me an opportunity to touch base with an old friend of mine from North Park. Making my way towards the central train station I reflected on my years of scholastic achievement at North Park, back in the days when it was a mere college. How unlike Japan was North Park. So many short people hurrying about, not one of them from Minnesota with blonde hair. The likelihood of running into someone from Chick or a Covenant camp was zero. It was a lonely beautiful place and the train seemed to fly through the mountains and fields.

Kyoto was my destination. It is often said that to understand Japan one must first spend time in Kyoto. This is the ancient capital of Japan; a beautiful mountainous area filled with shrines and temples. It would be easy to get lost in such an area: a place so different from Chicago; quiet and peaceful with gentle people. This was my first trip to Japan. I was sent here from the Covenant Headquarters. A place where God manifests himself to the blessed. My mission wasn't to judge Darren with a self-rightious attitude. I was here to deliver a message to come home. All is forgiven. Come back to Chicago and the Covenant.

After backpacking a few hours along the river in the long valley, I came upon the mountain trail leading up into the Buddhist Temple that had become Darren's new home. You can see an open plateau with ornate pagodas towards the top of the mountain. There were some Japanese walking the trail with me, stopping at shrines along the way, lighting incense and paying respect to ancestors. Thousands of steps would lead to the temple. As I stopped and rested along the way the Japanese looked at me like I was from another planet. Some of the children looked at my blue eyes and others wanted to touch my hair.

I sensed more and more as I reached the compound that I wasn't wanted here. Was it because I was foreign or did they think I was coming for Darren? I was not to be trusted. Perhaps some of them knew of Darren's checkered past as a hard hitting cop carrying a shield for the C.P.D. Homicide Division working out of the old Swedish neighborhood on Clark Street: The Andy Sipowitz of Chicago. A tough detective who often found himself on the wrong side of the law.

One Buddhist monk saw my blond hair and yelled out. "Go Back, leave Darren-san here, he is our great teacher." Another one could speak some English saying, "he is the great white enlightened one. America doesn't understand him."

Well America may not understand him but the Tribune ran a few articles about his old ways of making drug and vice money disappear. Letting some criminals walk if they happen to donate a few hundred thousand dollars toward the new library at North Park, or, how's this one. " How's about I don't bust your face with my flashlight if youz might want to sponsor a Thorp family of missionaries in Zaire or whatever new name they have for the African countries now a days."

That's the old Darren. It must be a million miles away from him now. He doesn't have to worry about getting wacked from someone he put in Statesville for not coming up wit da cash for da Covenant camps. How did he get from there to here?

He saw me coming and sat me down with the other bogus religious freaks, on the floor mind you. Looks me over and starts telling the monks in English. " Our effort is to achieve mindfulness in each moment-to know what is going on within and around us". Then said, "Ken is it not true in your Covenant Bible when someone touches Christ, he or she is healed? So to it is in Buddhism, through deep understanding and love you are healed and your mind and body come into alignment. When you enter deeply into this moment, you see the nature of reality." The he went into a near like trance saying "Breathe in, I calm my body. Breath out, I smile! Dwelling in the present moment. I know this is a wonderful moment! And tell the Covies back in America to Party on Down!"