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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Art (01/18/07)

TITLE: A Child's Hand, Reaching
By Jan Ackerson
01/21/07


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Becca’s feet dangled from the cushioned pew. When she saw that one white patent leather shoe had a black scuff mark, she tucked her foot under her bottom. On her lap she gently held the little Bible that Mrs. Cherry had given her just moments ago for her 2nd grade Sunday School promotion. With one finger, she traced the gold letters pressed into the white leather: Becca Rose Earley.

When the black-robed preacher cleared his throat and started to talk, Becca opened the Bible. Inside, she found her name again, in swirling cursive letters. She started turning pages; the gold edges of each pair made a crinkling sound as she separated them. Becca glanced at Mama—was the noise too loud? But Mama just smiled and patted Becca’s yellow dress, so she continued to peel apart each page, being very careful with the thin paper.

After several pages, Becca was surprised to come across a stiff, shiny picture. She knew who the people in the picture were: Adam and Eve. They were hiding behind a bush, but Becca could tell that they weren’t wearing any clothes. She looked very hard at Adam’s shrub, and suppressed a little giggle. Did Mama know there was a naughty picture in her new Bible?

On the other side of Adam and Eve, Becca found another picture that she recognized—Noah’s ark. There was old Noah in his bathrobe, holding the door open for all those animals. Becca carefully searched the picture for her favorites—yes, there they were, two kitties playing down in the corner. One of them had four white paws, just like Princess Sophia.

There was so much to see in the Noah’s ark picture—two pretty birds fluttering near the top of the ark, two giraffes poking their heads out of the windows, even two smiling snakes slithering up the wooden ramp. But Becca was very curious now to see what other pictures were in her Bible. Still, she turned each gold-rimmed page slowly, cautiously, holding her breath as she neared each picture.

All of the Sunday School stories were there: scary Abraham with a big knife held high over his head, Joseph with his beautiful striped coat, David wearing a dress and aiming his slingshot, and long-haired blind Solomon pushing down the pillars of the temple. Many pages later, Becca found a Christmas picture, with a fat, smiling baby Jesus and His pretty mama dressed in blue. Jesus and his mama and daddy all had shining gold crowns, and Becca wondered if the baby liked to wear his crown in bed.

When Becca turned to the other side of the away-in-a-manger picture, her forehead crinkled and her eyes narrowed. There was grown-up Jesus, surrounded by children her age, but the words at the bottom of the picture said Suffer the little children.

Becca tugged on Mama’s sleeve. “Why are the little children suffering?”

Mama smiled and placed a finger to her lips. “Shhh, Becca.”

She whispered the question this time. “But Mama, why are they suffering?”

Mama leaned close and whispered in Becca’s ear. “I’ll explain it to you later. Shhh, now.”

Becca studied the picture. The children didn’t look like they were suffering. A chubby toddler sat on Jesus’ lap, and a bigger boy with blond hair was leaning on Jesus’ knee and smiling. One, two, three, four, five more children were nearby, most with mamas and daddies. Why were they suffering?

Then Becca saw it—behind Jesus’ outstretched arm—the top of one curly little head and a child’s hand, reaching. Becca couldn’t stop looking at the tiny hand, its fingers waving helplessly behind Jesus’ white robe. She’s trying to reach Jesus! Becca thought. He doesn’t know she’s there! She’s suffering!

Becca wanted to show Mama the little reaching hand, but Mama’s eyes were closed. The people were all praying, so Becca prayed, too. Jesus, there’s a suffering little girl. See her? Amen.

***

Jesus bounced Hiram on His knee and tousled Shimon’s curls. One by one He called each child by name and blessed them all. After a time, He looked around at the small gathering. “Joanna?” He said. “Come here, little one,” and He reached under His right sleeve and boosted her up to His lap. I saw her, Becca. I see you all.

_____

Author’s note: Based on Mark 10:13-16. This is loosely autobiographical—I used to worry about that little hand, pictured in my first Bible. You can see the picture at http://biblia.com/jesusart/jesus-children-25.jpg.


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This article has been read 1213 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 01/25/07
You captured this little girl SO well! The description was so alive and wonderful. I was completely captivated by this.

I guess I'll be the first to mention the tiny booboo - I do believe you meant "Samson" when you said "Solomon."

Regardless, this truly touched my heart.
Helen Paynter01/25/07
'Nothing special this week'. Well, it's all relative, isn't it? Most of us would be delighted if we could pull something as gently, tenderly spun as this out of the hat once in a while. Really beautiful, and I love the way you took us into the little girl's mind.
Jen Davis01/25/07
Such a sweet and touching story. I loved the moment when Becca tugged on her mother’s sleeve. And Becca’s prayer is so precious. “Jesus, there’s a suffering little girl. See her? Amen” The closing line ends this beautifully written story with a wonderful message.
Betty Castleberry01/26/07
Becca is a believable character. I could see her sitting in the pew. Good ending, and good message, too. This was well done.
Mariane Holbrook01/27/07
Beautifully and sensitively written. Kudos!
Laurie Glass01/28/07
Picturing that little girl in the pew, peeking into her thoughts - made me smile. What an enjoyable piece.
Marilyn Schnepp 01/28/07
OOPS! I can imagine how the ultimate Perfectionist has suffered through the perils of Samson vs Solomon. Need I say more? Now, for the beautiful story! And, it was! Absolutely beautiful and well written...as usual. Kudos, my friend, Kudos.
T. F. Chezum01/28/07
Very good and very touching. A very enjoyable read.
Ann Grover01/28/07
This brought back memories for me of my early Sunday School days... Very tenderly and sensitively told... I loved the last line. Mistake or not, exquisite.
Patty Wysong01/29/07
The descriptions were beautiful and so real, I could hear and feel the gold edging of her new Bible as it was turned page by page for the first time! The ending was superb--my favorite part!!
Sandra Petersen 01/29/07
Your title was intriguing and I enjoyed the way you got inside Becca's mind.

You described the little gold-edged Bible that many of us probably received at some time in our life so well. I almost felt like I was Becca looking at those pictures again.

This story was precious to me in another way, too. My youngest's middle name is Joanna. I'll have to read this to her. The rest of your story more than made up for the Samson mistake. (But I understand how you feel about it. Believe me!) Blessings, Jan.
Donna Emery01/29/07
What a wonderful story! Becca is definitely a charmer, and I loved the idea of praying for a little girl in a picture. Sweet and well written. Thanks for sharing this
Crista Darr01/29/07
What a tender, lovely story. Your work never ceases to amaze me. I see your hand, reaching out through the written word and touching many lives. May God bless all of your efforts.
Birdie Courtright01/29/07
I was immediately drawn in to this wonderful story--first by the title, but your attention to the smallest details caught by a child's mind bring it alive. Superb writing!
Suzanne R01/30/07
Gorgeous - really, it is.

I identify with the passage too - could easily have been a 'Becca' once and still love picture Bibles.

(I once wrote in a challenge entry, 'Can a tiger change its spots?' I identify with the kicking too :-) )
Sara Harricharan 01/30/07
Oh! What a sweet story! Very vivid in description with the pictures in the bible, a nice touch of humor with david wearing a 'dress'. I liked the ending very much, it fitted just right.
Paul Servini01/30/07
Charming story which captured a child's worry so wonderfully. I loved that little prayer.
Shari Armstrong 01/30/07
I've seen that picture (I'm sure most of us have). WONDERFUL -I had chills at the end - delightlful :)
Bonnie Way01/30/07
Wow, gorgeous story. I loved the ending. Your descriptions are very good - so easy to picture the little girl sitting there turning pages in her Bible.
Pat Guy 01/30/07
So compassionate for such a young heart. You captured her beautifully tender heart matching that of God's, Who reached back.

Beautiful Jan.
Linda Watson Owen01/30/07
Yes! Absolutely wonderful, Jan! Count me as another Becca, too! Your masterful pen carried me back many years onto that very familiar church pew as I sat beside my mother. I studied every picture page of the Bible in my lap. Thank you!
Sally Hanan01/31/07
What a beautiful story, and one especially endearing because it was really you in there :) I remember those thin pages stuck together, and the delicate push it took to open them up. It almost makes the more sacred because of it.
Sherrie Jackson01/31/07
Well, it looks like you got a ton of well-deserved compliments on your entry. This little story was so many things at once!--I laughed out loud several times, and I felt nostalgia for my own Precious Moments bible of long ago, and I felt a lump in my throat when you brought Jesus to us in the story. Simply beautiful. I think it's exceptional the way you narrated with the girl's "voice" but also with an elegance, and with these wonderfully detailed descriptions, all at the same time. Bravo!! I wish you the best with this!
Edy T Johnson 02/07/07
Dear Jan, You have a wonderful memory for seeing life through the eyes of your childhood, touching your reader's memories as well. I like the fresh vision expressed through your narrator's voice. How new everything once was, and how we tried to comprehend what didn't quite make sense! Thank you for capturing so well this child-like quality in this story.

Thank you, too, for your welcome comments on my stories. I always appreciate what you write.
Helen Dowd 03/26/07
A lovely story, Jan. I usually give my comments before I read what others have said, but this time I read some of them. I see that someone else pointed out your small "eye passover", as I call typos -- the one about Solomon, when you meant Sampson. But anyone knowing the Bible stories would know who you meant. I love your imagination, and I was looking at the pictures in the little girl's book, right along with her. You are a marvellous story-teller. God bless you. I am glad I have met you.