I sat upright in the gray metal folding chair, stealing glances at the reflection of my Sunday curls in my black shiny patent leather shoes.
My Sunday school teacher’s raspy old voice stole my attention away from my mirrored reflection, and immediately she had my attention.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” she asked.
Immediately, there was a chorus of voices answering with the usual ten
year old replies.
Every ten year old I knew wanted to be a vet. At least when I was growing up they did. Everyone I knew loved dogs, cats and horses. That of course was before Britney, Puffy and MTV videos.
But not me.
I had read “Black Beauty “, and I had been bored out of my mind…. I didn’t want a horse for a best friend… I was much too practical for that.
I lived in the city, and besides my Mom wouldn’t let me get a puppy…so, I knew that a horse would be on her no-no list.
I wanted adventure, thrills and even a little danger.
I fancied myself a female Indiana Jones, or a Neal Armstrong.
I had read about the Incas and the Aztecs…I wanted
adventure, discovery, fame and fortune…..
I wanted to be like Cortez, Balboa, Christopher Columbus or John Glenn.
Well, I really didn’t much care for oceans and small boats, but I wanted to discover the past.
I sat there… silently enjoying the adventures I would soon undertake when the tired, raspy voice again interrupted.
Her wise old eyes focused and squinted beneath the frameless glasses and became an x-ray and looked straight at me and asked,
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Immediately,… I became ten feet tall in that old folding chair.
I swung my Sunday curls back, puffed out my chest , and in my best Batman posture, declared to all in earshot,” I want to be a geologist or maybe an archeologist.”
No one said one word.
That small annex where Sunday School classes were held suddenly seemed like the Roman Coliseum, and I was Sunday Brunch for the lions.
Ten years olds sometimes forget their manners…
Even in church, or pre-church,… and this was one of those times,
And there was a loud combined chorus of “Whaaaaaaaaat?”
I certainly had felt superior to all the wanabe Crocodile Hunters in the class.
My tired old Sunday School teacher looked straight into my eyes…. And her eyes were blank.
Her dress had long been out of style, and her hair was purple
where the gray should have been, and I knew she had once been several inches taller.
Her eyes were blank and empty… a tunnel.
I knew at that moment, I just knew… that she didn’t know what a geologist
She smiled at me,… and went on to the next person.
She never missed a single Sunday.
She caught the bus every Sunday morning in the hot days of summer and in the cold and rainy days of winter.
Her feet would often be swollen and overflow her shoes. She walked as gently as a ballerina on her toes. But, her steps were
steady and calculated, she walked with her eyes…. She had a vision.
Sometimes she would stumble over the words in the Sunday School Quarterly…
So, she would stop reading and tell us the story in her own words.
We were mesmerized.
Jesus was a living God in all of her stories. She would always end with how good God had been to her that week.
During the week she was a maid, but on Sundays she was a fisherman.
I was silent.
I hadn’t meant to hurt her. I had only wanted to be Indiana Jones.
I loved her. She was the only person I knew who talked about Jesus like she really knew Him.
As she finished talking, she looked over at me, and said, “With God all things are possible.” and she smiled and patted my knee.
I knew then that I was forgiven.
But, that Sunday morning I learned an even greater lesson….. That even though she didn’t know what a geologist was, and she didn’t read as well as the ten year olds in her class, she knew that nothing is impossible with God.
I didn’t become a geologist, or Indiana Jones,… but I did become a teacher like my teacher.
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