The following article was published in the October 12, 2008, Vision, the Word Aflame Publications adult take-home paper. It was later reprinted in the November 2010 edition of the Pentecostal Herald. It was originally titled “Unsung Hero.”
I come here every Sunday because my parents want me to go. They say church is a cheap babysitter. I like to breathe the air here. Nobody screams or throws things. Most of all, I like to come because of her.
I don’t know where she lives, but I think she might live here—she’s always here when I come. Sometimes she comes to see me at home, but I don’t want to ask where she lives ’cause she might not have her own home. I don’t think she does have a home because houses smell like cigarettes and dogs. But she never does. She smells like something pretty that tickles my nose.
I think she’s like a rose because roses smell good. But they have those pokey things, too. She doesn’t poke, though—she gives hugs. She always looks like she has clothes that don’t wrinkle and hairs that stay in the same place every week. I can never get mine to stay combed after I get up. Maybe she doesn’t sleep either.
Her thin fingers color life into a black-and-white page until the Bible people look alive. I struggle with my crayons, imitating her pretty pictures, but mine never look as good. Maybe it’s just my eyes, though, because when she looks at my pictures she says they look just as good as hers.
And when she talks about those people from the Bible, I can see them. Somehow she makes them appear in my head. I like the stories about Jesus. She has met Him. I think she lived back then. I wish I could. When she talks, I know He is there—she says so—and I just know it. Someday I will get to meet Him. Sometimes when she talks about Him, she gets those drips in her eyes and I start feeling drips in my eyes too, but the other kids might laugh and call me a crybaby. I’m not a crybaby. Crybabies get drips in their eyes when they are sad. She and I get them when we’re happy, but I don’t know why.
She sings and we sing. Jesus is there when we are singing, too, because we are talking to Him. Sometimes when we are singing, I get drips in my eyes. I don’t know how she does it, but sometimes when she is singing, I hear music. But there isn’t any in the room. One time I stopped singing and just listened. I think there must have been other people hiding in the room because I could hear them singing even though I couldn’t see them. She does cool tricks like that sometimes. I wanted to tell her about it, but I felt silly. Of course she heard it too—she’s an adult.
I sneaked into class one day to see if she slept there. I heard her crying. I thought she was hurt and I wanted to cry too—even though I’m not a crybaby. She was talking to Jesus about someone, but I didn’t know who. She kept saying, “Jesus, help my little ones.” I thought she had some pets she was worried about, or maybe some flowers. She said, “Help them to grow. I want them to be beautiful. I want to present them to You and hear you say that I did a good job. Help me to feed them with Your Word and water them with Your Spirit.”
I was sure she had flowers somewhere, or that she was praying about the pretty bushes in front of the church. Finally, one day in class I found out. She said, “Jesus, help my little ones, today. I want to present them as a beautiful bouquet to You.” I knew she had some secret flowers the whole time because that’s what bouquet means—lots of pretty flowers.
She doesn’t just tell us stories about the Bible. Sometimes she tells us about Johnny and Suzie. Some weeks they are okay, but sometimes they really need Jesus. Johnny can be so mean, but Jesus always helps him do better. I feel like Johnny sometimes. Once, I was going to take a Popsicle from the freezer when my mom wasn’t looking, but then I remembered how Johnny had stolen a candy bar once and felt so bad. I felt so bad I almost started to cry—and I wasn’t even in the kitchen yet! But I’m not a crybaby.
I pray for Suzie sometimes because whenever Johnny is doing good, she has a problem it seems. Last week we found out that she had told a lie. She got in big trouble and had to ask Jesus to forgive her. I told a lie at school once. When I got caught, I asked if they would forgive me like Jesus forgives me. They laughed. They must have been happy that I know Jesus.
She doesn’t just tell stories. She stood with me when I was so shivering and cold after the pastor pushed me under the water for the “shin” of the sin, or something like that. He told me that Jesus would make me all clean inside—and He did. But I was really cold on the outside and shaking all over. Good thing she was there—she hugged me in that towel to get me warm. I thought she wouldn’t stop squeezing me. Her eyes were drippy again.
Us kids always sit with her in church until we go upstairs. There is a man called a “rusher” who carries a plate that she puts money in. I always want to put my money on top of hers. She puts in those nice little envelopes, and if I’m careful, I can put my metal money right on top. The rusher smiles and winks at me and carries the plate very carefully. After he is done, we get to go to our class.
One day she didn’t let us go to our place upstairs with all the pictures on the wall. She said there was a man in the “santwary” who was going to preach to us. So we stayed on our bench. He talked really big and I thought he was going to swallow that black thing he was holding named Mike. But when he stopped talking, I felt drips in my eyes again. I’m not a crybaby. I’m not a crybaby. But I cried like a baby. I couldn’t stop.
Maybe I was a crybaby, but I didn’t care because there was something inside that wanted to get out. I knew Jesus was there so all I could say was “I love You, Jesus.” But it didn’t stop. My body just got bigger until I was floating and people held onto my arms so I wouldn’t float away. I think even my nose was getting drips because someone put a tissue there. But that didn’t stop me. That big thing inside of me suddenly popped and I started talking so fast I don’t think Jesus could understand me. I forgot how to talk for a while. I thought maybe we were in Heaven because I felt so tall. When I finally opened my eyes everything had turned fuzzy, but there she was with her arms around me again. She must feel that all the time because she knew what had happened. She called it Holy Ghost.
I like to come to church because I get to be with her. Although now, I feel like I get to take part of her home with me. Someday I want grow up and be a teacher, because she can be a crybaby, and it’s okay.