Superman burst sobbing into the house.
“Mama, I hurt my knee,” he wailed. The homemade red cape hung dejectedly from his skinny shoulders. His tiny chest heaved underneath a t-shirt emblazoned with a bold “S.”
Gathering up her little “Man of Steel,” Susan renewed his superpowers with a kiss and a Band-Aid. He scampered off again to battle imagined foes within the safety of the yard. She watched him soar happily into the air, tethered by a sturdy rope hanging from a gnarled oak. All was well within his world.
The same could not be said about the rest of the world . . .
It was 1968. On the nightly news, Walter Cronkite grimly reported riots around the country and the terrible numbers of American casualties in Vietnam. As a young wife and mother, she was burdened by these things along with the financial worries that had befallen them when her husband was laid off from his job.
She dejectedly stirred a pot on the stove. With a heavy heart, she gathered ingredients for a batch of biscuits. The same nagging worries occupied her mind. “Past Due” notices littered the table . . . the battery on the old car was unreliable . . . the water heater was acting up . . .
Meanwhile, Superman soared higher on his swing.
Sprinkling flour on waxed paper, Susan rolled the dough, trying to yield enough biscuits for both supper and breakfast the following day. She scrimped and saved, cutting corners wherever possible. Their tithes were cut from their budget, and there was still barely enough money for food.
The screen door slammed and Superman again ran crying to her. “I fell off the swing!” Tears rolled down his grimy cheeks as he pointed to a scrape on his elbow.
Susan sighed. “Sorry, sweetheart, you’ll have to wait until I wash the flour off my hands!”
“But, Mama, you have to kiss it!”
“You’ll have to wait!”
She watched him from the corner of her eye. His cape hung askew as he stood pigeon-toed in filthy sneakers. Another thought crossed her mind, “The kids need clothes . . . where will we get the money?”
A thin elbow caressed her arm. She looked down at him. Her caped crusader said softly, “It feels better now!” He scurried off. There was so much trust in his touch that although she was preoccupied, her presence still reassured him.
The dough became sticky. Reaching for the bag of flour, she accidentally knocked it over. The bag burst open spilling flour all over the floor. A fine cloud of white dust hovered in the air. It was the final straw. In tears, Susan sank to her knees.
Unbeknownst to her, a small shadow hovered at the screen door.
The phone rang. Susan didn’t move to answer it. The caller was probably another bill collector. Let it ring . . . everything had been taken . . . there was nothing more to give.
Suddenly, the screen door squeaked.
Susan drew a shaking hand across her face. Flour mingled with tears. She looked up into the kindly eyes of her neighbor. “Uh . . . Mrs. Wright . . . I’m sorry, but this isn’t a good time . . .”
“Oh, but Superman told me otherwise!” Mrs. Wright hefted a sack onto the counter. “He said you need some ‘flour power.’”
Susan smiled in spite of herself. “I think he’s confusing it with ‘Flower Power.’” She got to her feet and wiped her face.
“I won’t argue with a Superhero!” Mrs. Wright reached into her pocket and drew out a tattered card. “Here’s a recipe I thought you might like to try . . . it has always fed my soul.”
Written in faded blue ink were the words: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. Casting all your cares upon Him; for He careth for you.”*
Susan recalled the touch of the small elbow against her. In the midst of her troubles, she had been longing for reassurance . . . the touch of her child reminded her how much she missed the presence – the special touch - of Jesus in her life.
Gathering Superman into her arms, she gratefully buried her flour-stained face into the red cape.
*I Peter 5:6-7 (KJV)
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