Through Emily’s Eyes
Emily Atkinson stood on the curb and watched people go through the double wood doors. She stood and watched, her t-shirt dirty with yesterday’s games, and a smear of peanut butter on her jeans from this morning’s breakfast. She stood and watched them, some in matching dresses, some in shiny shoes and colored ribbons as the big brass tower bell clanged the hour.
“Why can’t I go momma,” she’d ask every Saturday night, just before her mother tucked the blankets in under her chin.
“Cause Emily my darlin’, those aren’t our kind of people. And besides, that would mean a new dress and we don’t have money for special clothes. Not now… maybe soon. Now that’s the end of that,” she’d always end off the conversation. “Besides, God has more important things to do than be worrying about a little girl wanting to go to Sunday School.” The woman’s voice would fade off as she walked down the hall of their apartment home. But that’s not the way Emily saw it.
So Emily would stand as close as she dared to the church building on Sunday mornings, until the people came out again. She’d listen to the singing, memorizing the words of the songs she heard over and over again through the open windows. She’d watch the colored papers and crafts in children’s hands catch the wind and reflect the sun, as people left the building with warm smiles and handshakes. Emily would go home, sit on her bed, take Scruffy in her hands and stroke what was left of his imitation fur. She’d whisper the words of a little girl that couldn’t understand. “Someday,” she told his motionless face, his beady black eyes. “Someday, I’ll have exactly the right dress, and my shoes will shine and I’ll be able to walk right through those big wood doors like everybody else. And Jesus will be there waiting for me too, just like He does for everybody else.”
And Emily grew up, just like everybody else, but the little girl desire of the double door building where Jesus lived, continued to draw her.
Emily pulls Marissa’s fingers from her arm as the music from the piano at the front of the church plays Jesus Loves Me, in an upbeat tempo. This is their cue, as the little ones stumble over parents’ legs and purses to make their way down the aisle to the Sunday School hour prepared just for them. Their shoes pound along the wooden floor, singing the words to the song, high pitched voices going every which way, but the words were very to clear to Emily. These were the same words she’d learned through the opened windows in the summer sun.
Marissa catches the excitement of the little group, and follows behind, down to the main auditorium where they do the crafts and read the stories that Emily missed so many years ago.
As the children’s voices fade down the hallway, she hears the fading voice of her own mother....”besides, God has more important things to do than worrying about a little girl wanting to go to Sunday School.” She can still hear her mother’s feet hit slow and heavy on the tiled floor indicating the end of any discussion. And she wanted to say, that’s not the way she saw it.
The way she sees it now though, is that it is one of the most important things He worries about. After all, that’s how she finally found her way through the double wood doors. His persistent pull on her own heart.
Emily gets up from the pew, picks up her teacher’s manual and makes her way down the steps to the main auditorium. “Now class,” she begins, her smile bright, her eyes even brighter as she looks out the window, across the street, to an empty curb.
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