"The office of community development is crucial to our effort. We must show the dying people of this city that we have experienced a taste of a refuge where they can go and be freed from this crumbling place. However, the office's role must not be over expanded. We must not run the risk of beginning to think the city itself is our security. The people are our primary concern. It must never be forgotten, the city itself CANNOT be saved, only the residence.
We must make the places we develop suitable for the rescue effort to continue. The houses that we build must be sanitized and made suitable for workers to live in for the duration of their fifteen year tenure. It must become clear that they have something to offer to those who surround them. We must be trustworthy and indeed build the trust of those we help in order that when the time is right, they will choose to allow us to cure them and bring them into the work of rescuing more people.
This is where the tension must lie. Happy in our work, but never settled in our temporary homes. Always building for the people of this city, but not in such a way that they will not leave when the time is right. We are merely passing through this place, as is everyone in the end. We must be a blessing, but not ones who take people's attention away from the blessings that will come if they will join us."
~The Mayor (Instructions Chapter 29)
Peter slowly approached the elevator. He had just come back to work, but his first interaction of the day made him feel like he never left. He was already feeling like going home for the day to sleep, but duty called. He pushed the button on the elevator in the most annoyed fashion as he could. At least he could take out his annoyance on something. It took forever for the elevator to arrive. “They still haven't fixed this thing?” he thought to himself. “Even after a month away. No matter... I have more pressing matters to think about.” Just when he was ready to take the stairs, the elevator opened.
He stepped in and hit the second floor button. “At least I'll have time to think.” He thought. He waited as the elevator creaked its way up the old shaft. It was long overdue for repairs, but it did its job. “Unlike some people around here” he muttered. He had no idea what to expect from Brian now that he was back. He was one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet... but he knew since the day he met him that a day may come where they had a difference of opinion on some matter or another. It was never something Peter could put his finger on... but he felt that in spite of Brian's incredibly cooperative personality that there might be a different agenda underneath.
After a frustratingly long wait, the elevator opened up on the second floor. Peter entered the hall and began the walk to Brian's office. He tried not to worry. Brian was a nice guy right? Ted was just overreacting. He had to be. Folks like Ted tend to do that kind of thing once in a while. Up to this point Brian was just a little careless once in a while on his worst days, and an incredibly innovative visionary on his best days. It was probably just a little carelessness. Brian was always able to listen to reason, so Peter would probably have this thing taken care of in a few hours. So he thought.
Peter approached the door... “Office of community development.” The old sign still had a shine to it after all these years. He lifted his hand and gently knocked. He heard some papers rustling and heard as footsteps approached the door. Sure enough, the door opened and Brian stood with a welcoming face. "Come in Peter, It's great to see you! Welcome back!" He said with a smile. Peter walked through the door and began to let his eyes wander around the room. "Brian, what happened to your window?"
The window was, in fact, not a window at all. It wasn't gone--not by a long shot. It's not even that it wasn't a window anymore, the wall was not really a wall. The entire wall had been renovated. It was made entirely of glass. All one had to do was turn their head when they entered the office and they had an incredible view of the city. "Just a little something I had done while you were away." Said Brian.
"Just a little something you had done!? Do you realize how important it is that we keep these walls intact? We need to keep the air from the city out of this building!"
John tried not to lose his cool, but he could barely process the risks that Brian must have taken in creating this renovation.
"Easy there buddy! answered Brian without even flinching, "I was extra careful. You don't need to worry about a thing."
"Is that so? How on earth did you keep this place secure and sanitized while you did all this work?"
"It’s really not a big deal, Peter! Seriously, no need to get bent out of shape on your first day back. You deserve to relax a little"
"I just don't see how there's a safe way you could have pulled this off Brian!"
"Look at me, Peter. Don't I look fine to you?"
Brian did look fine. Peter just couldn't believe that something so big had been done and no one had bothered to tell him, even while he was gone.
"You're sure there's nothing to worry about?"
"Of course Peter. would I really let something like this get out of hand?"
"I suppose not, just don't do something like this without letting me know, okay?"
"Sure, Don't worry about a thing."
"Okay… so anyways, why on earth would you go through all this work in the first place?"
"Well, let me tell you Peter, every time I've looked out my window since I got here, I've been more and more inspired to make a difference in this city."
He approached the window and began to gaze with wonder in his face.
"Every time I looked I knew I could do more. So, I figured, why not expand my vision? I guess this project was just a way for me to express what I've been feeling inside. I wanted to get an even bigger view of all that is to come in this city! I wanted to be able to see it from every place I stood in this little office."
Peter stopped to think. What indeed could one say to such a beautiful set of words? He looked at Brian, then out the window. He couldn't help but admire such a commitment to the rescue effort. "Well Brian, I'm glad to see that things are going well for you. I'm glad your motivation hasn't wavered since I left."
"My motivation is stronger than ever! I can't help but come up with new ideas every time I walk into this office!"
"That being said," began Peter, "I need to talk to you about what happened while I was gone."
"What is that exactly?"
"Well, I heard about what happened with the city resident and the back door."
"Ah yes, that. Again, I really don't think you have anything to worry about. It was just a little carelessness on my part, it really won't happen again."
Peter paused for a moment. The last thing he wanted was to overreact and stifle all the good work Brian had been doing, but this was certainly no small matter.
"Very well," he said with some reservation, "But Brian, please watch what you and your people are doing, I don't want another incident like we had eight years ago."
"Oh, I'm sure that we're not even close to something like that! It was a one time thing, I assure you."
"Very well then, I'll be keeping my eye out."
"Sure thing… anyways, now that we've got that out of the way, I have a talk I'm supposed to deliver to motivate all the recruits downstairs in the main meeting hall. I'd be honored if you came to listen in."
Peter thought for a moment.
"Well, I guess I wouldn't mind hearing something positive for a change. I'd be happy to sit in"
"Awesome! Lets head down!"
They left the office together and headed down to the first floor yet again. It was a trip Peter was familiar with. He had grown used to delivering talks in the main hall himself from the time the main headquarters were finished. He had spent countless hours laying out the basics of the instructions… bring people in… cure them… teach them to recruit more themselves. This made him think yet again of just who he might find to do this very thing in his place. Could it be Brian? No way to tell at this point… even after all these years he wasn't really sure what to make of him.
Before long, they were in the main hall, and recruits from every point of their fifteen year tenure were gathered. When they saw the two men enter, the room went up in applause. This was a shock to Peter. He hadn't seen so much enthusiasm in months!
"This doesn't look like the kind of negative atmosphere I was warned about while I was away!" Peter said as he leaned in so Brian could hear him over the noise.
"What did I tell you Peter? I've got great things in store for us as, just have a seat and relax."
Peter sat and was greeted warmly by one of the recruiters while Brian went behind the podium.
"How are you, sir? How was your time away?"
"It was long enough, I'll say that much."
The man chuckled
"Well, that's good, I suppose. You came back at a good time."
"So what's all the excitement about?
"There's really only one way to say it, the man behind that pulpit is nothing short of a revolutionary!"
"I know! But I'm telling you, he's going to turn this city upside down! "
Brian put up his hands to calm the crowd. They all grew quiet as he began to speak:
"Well everyone, we've had, what I think, is one of the most successful months in the history of our effort. Homes have been rebuilt. Hospitals have been made. People have seen that there is a far better way to live!"
The recruiters again erupted with applause. Peter felt his heart begin to build with excitement, but something restrained him…
Brian continued: "Too long have we had a mindset that said that this city had no hope! Too long have we focused solely on the future of the people in this city! I say that we can let them live in happiness here and now! For years we've focused only on getting people to the new world. I'm far more interested in bringing the new world here!"
Peter again felt a part of him wanting to stand up and cheer, but again, something held him back. Surely these were great words… yet perhaps… could something be missing?
"I spent years waiting on people whose sole role was to convince people that there was in fact a new world to look forward to. Well, perhaps that job isn't as necessary as it used to be. We should no longer consider ourselves escapists! Why do you think the mayor's instructions told us to create the community development program? Was it to swab the decks of a sinking ship? I don't think so! I say we give the people of this city something to really cheer about! There's joy to be found here and now! We can give them a city where they can thrive!
Peter sat in silence as the rest of the crowd stood to their feet in yet another applause. He needed some time to think. Had he been focusing too much on the new world? Had he missed out on things he could have experienced in the current effort? Did he perhaps miss out on something more that the Mayor had wished for him to experience here and now? But then the mayor's words came back to his mind and remembered: " We must not run the risk of beginning to think the city itself is our security. The people are our primary concern. It must never be forgotten, the city itself CANNOT be saved, only the residence."
"Still," Peter thought to himself, "I'm sure Brian hasn't forgotten about that… he's just being emphatic… these are some things that need to be said. I'm sure these recruiters wouldn't forget about the world to come. They still know that it really is what our chief end is… don't they?" Peter stood and joined the applause… "Don't they?"
To be continued...