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23

 

Our calculations had been wrong. Sunrise found us in Oklahoma City, still a good forty miles from Prague. The exhaustion of the night of driving meant nothing to us now; we were nearly there. We got lost a few times looking for the old road into Prague (the one He travelled), but we finally found it. Since we were coming from the west we knew that we would pass the site of the accident on the way into town, though we would have no way of identifying it.

 

The countryside around Prague was very beautiful, a landscape of rolling green hills. On our journey to the Southwest we had hoped to find relief from winter weather, but instead had found snow and cold everywhere. Now suddenly, as we approached Prague, spring seemed to have erupted over the earth; warm sunlight danced upon a landscape dotted with blossoming fruit trees and alive with the song of birds. Never have I experienced the miraculous emergence of spring with such dazzling suddenness as on that road into Prague. We all felt a certain sig­nificance in this which touched us deeply.

 

A road-sign: "Welcome to Prague "; population, as I recall, about a thousand. The town was settled by Czechoslovakian immigrants, hence the name, though their descendants pronounce it with an a as in sage. We drove down the main street, our hearts beating a little faster than usual. Eighteen years before, God had touched this place, and I imagine He chooses very carefully the places He touches and the people He meets when He visits our earth as man. We felt something about Prague from the beginning which touched our hearts with an unmistakable touch.

 

We stopped in a cafe for breakfast. The waitress was a remarkably cheerful woman with an unusually good sense of humor: very fast and very sharp. She threw in about twenty jokes while we were reading the breakfast menu, and they were funny, too. I remember thinking how she would have amused Baba, the Most Appreciative One for good jokes. We chatted with her briefly about the town: she hadn 't lived in Prague in 1952, and so she knew nothing of the accident, but she certainly knew the town clinic and its head, Dr. Burleson. He had been the town's only doctor for many years, and had delivered her husband. She gave us directions for getting to the clinic, joking all the while. Elizabeth Patterson had mentioned Dr. Burleson to us, so we knew he was our man: it was he who had treated Baba. I had heard that he was retired from practice, and mentioned this to the waitress: "Oh, no! You couldn't retire Dr. Burleson! " On the contrary, she informed us that Ned Burleson was quite a man, and jokingly regretted the fact that he was not 30 years younger — but he was still going strong in the clinic he had built twenty years before, in time to aid a party of injured strangers, and the Stranger.

 

As we were leaving the cafe, we gave the waitress a card with Baba's picture on it, and I explained that this was the "friend" we had mentioned earlier who had passed through Prague eighteen years before. Chris said with a grin, "Yes, this place is sort of like Bethlehem — or Golgotha. " Our waitress suddenly became very quiet; softly, almost to herself, she said, "Someday I'd sure like to visit the places where Jesus walked. . . "

 

We reached the clinic after a brief drive down neat, sunny streets. I remember glimpsing the yellow flash of dandelions as we jumped out of the car. The clinic had two wings; one, obviously of recent date, so we entered the older wing. The doorway lead right into a hallway along which patients ' rooms were located. A nurse, a pleasant looking middle-aged woman, approached us. We asked if we could see Dr. Burleson; "Certainly, he 's in his office. Just go down that hallway into the new wing. " It was so effortless and natural, as was everything that happened that morning. I felt that it all had something to do with our having given up hope, in the course of our night drive, of really seeing Prague and meeting the doctor. We came without expectations.

 

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