Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Faith Formation: A Parable in Two Parts


Once there was a Little Girl who loved God.  She didn’t like sitting still, or using her indoor voice.  She also didn’t like to be touched because there were already so many messages coming into her clever mind that she couldn't cope with much more. 

The Little Girl’s parents took her to church because they wanted her to know more about God.  And everyone is welcome at church, no matter what!  So the Little Girl tried to sit still for an hour.  The wooden bench was hard and scratchy.  Ladies’ perfume smelled funny.  People talked and talked and the organ squawked and squawked.  And she was supposed to shake hands or hug—twice!  It was too much.  But still the Little Girl tried very hard because she knew that God loved her and this was God’s house.

After church the Little Girl had to go to a class for kids her age to learn about God.  She had to sit still for another hour!  But it was okay because there was a chair next to a pillar.  The pillar was cool and smooth against her cheek and it didn’t mind if she squeezed it.  When she squeezed it, all of her wiggles and worries came out and she felt calmer and safe. 

But one horrible day, there was another kid in the pillar seat.  In her pillar seat.  The Little Girl couldn’t take it.  She had been good through the long service and now she couldn’t hug her pillar.  So she tried to push the other kid out of her chair.  She forgot her indoor voice and indoor manners because her brain was on fire.  The Teachers didn’t know what to do.  So they made the Little Girl leave.

Later, the Grownup In Charge told the Little Girl’s Mother that the Little Girl was naughty.  That she had to leave because naughty Little Girls made the good little boys and girls “anxious.”  That maybe the Little Girl just needed some time away and could behave the next time she came back.  He said the Teachers never wanted the Little Girl to sit next to her pillar again because it was “distracting.”  The Mother tried to explain how the Little Girl needed her seat.  That she needed extra help to sit still.  The Grownup said all of the other good little boys and girls didn’t get special treatment and told the Mother again that the Little Girl wasn’t allowed to sit there in class again.  The Little Girl cried.  The Mother cried.  They’d both heard this before.  Everywhere except school where the teachers loved the Little Girl and worked as hard as she did to try to help her understand the world, in fact. 

But this was the first time they’d heard that they weren’t welcome in church just as they were.  So they cried and cried.   


            “So,” the Grownup In Charge told the Mother.  “We are a volunteer-run program.  And we couldn’t find an aide trained for your daughter.  The only para-professional we could find who would work for free is Jesus.”
            “Seriously?  Isn’t he gone?”
            “Well, no.  He rose from the dead, see,” the Grownup shook his head at the Mother as if this should be obvious.
            “Oh.  Okay.  Great.”  The Mother walked away to get a donut at coffee hour.
            “Excuse me, Mr. Grownup?” Jesus asked.
            “The Little Girl and I are going to need to sit by the pillar.”
            “But . . .”
            “Thanks, my good friend!”  Jesus clapped the Grownup in Charge on the back and led the Little Girl to her chair.
            “I can sit here?”  The Little Girl asked.
            “Well, yeah.  I mean, the pillar feels cool and smooth on your cheek.  You can hug it and it doesn’t even care!”  Jesus wrapped his arms around the pillar.  It seemed to glow a little.  “And watch this.  If you try, you can kind of climb it . . .”
            “Excuse me, Jesus?  Could you please take your seat?  We have to start our lesson about . . . um . . . You,” said the Teacher.
            “Yes!  Sorry!  Just had to get that out.  Go ahead,” Jesus said.  “Your Teachers are really nice.  They are good eggs, they just don’t know what to do with us pillar-huggers sometimes,” Jesus whispered to the Little Girl.
            “Jesus.  Hush.”  Said the Teachers.
            The Little Girl giggled.
            A few minutes passed and the Little Girl noticed a thread in her pants had come undone.  It looked messy on her neat, favorite leggings.  A tiny flame flicked in her brain.  She looked up at Jesus.
            Jesus raised his hand.
            “Excuse me, Teacher?  Hey, yeah, can all of the kids get out of their seats and maybe jump up and down for, like, a minute?  Yeah.  A minute should do it.” 
            The Teacher looked at Jesus as if he had three heads.  But He was the Son of Man so they had to listen. 
            After jumping, the Little Girl felt much better.  The thread had fallen off.  It must have just been from her coat. 
            After class the Little Girl needed to hug her pillar one more time.  “Did you ever get in trouble when you were a kid, Jesus?” she asked.
            “Oh man.  This one time, I snuck away from my mom and dad because I wanted to listen in the Temple.  And they thought I’d been saviornapped.  When they found me, I told them that obviously I would be learning about God.  That made them even more annoyed and I wasn’t allowed figs for dessert for, like, a month.”  Jesus shook his head and chuckled.  “It might not have been a sin, but my parents were still pretty miffed.” 
            “Hmmm.”  The Little Girl thought for a minute.  She was actually very good with words when her brain wasn’t on fire.  “Do you know what the spectrum is, Jesus?  Do you know what it means if you’re on it?”
            Jesus shrugged.  “When I hear spectrum, I just think of the rainbow.  All those beautiful colors.  Do you know the story of the rainbow?”
            “Yes!  With Noah!  I do hear everything in class even though it looks like I'm not paying attention!”
            “Yup.  It’s a sign’s of God’s love and promises.  Well, that and maybe evidence that my Dad might have overreacted with the whole world-ending natural disaster thing.  But that’s a discussion for eternity.”  Jesus rolled his eyes.  “Parents, amIright?”
            The Little Girl giggled. 
            “So I am allowed to be here?” she asked. 
            “Of course, my Precious One.  I promise that everyone is allowed to be here.  Just as they are.  Like I said, I think the spectrum is beautiful!” 

Jesus hugged the pillar one final time and everyone nearby laughed.  Perfection can appear pretty strange sometimes.

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