The latest round of corporate downsizing had been brutal, and Ginny was grateful she was still employed. Her new assignment though had taken her by surprise. “How did I end up in the backwoods town where I was born? I didn’t ever expect to be back here.”
“At least there is a window in this dismal office. I may never have gotten that in New York.” The view through that window however, took her by surprise.
“The church…” Ginny whispered. Though her parents had no regard for the “hypocrites and foolishness that filled the church”, permitting her to go meant three hours they didn’t have to be bothered with “the brat”. “That little church was truly my sanctuary. What a welcome reprieve it was from the abuse and neglect I lived with.”
Ginny remembered the last time she had seen her Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Daniels.
“Ginny, can you stay for just a minute?”
Ginny waited while the teacher dug through her tote bag.
“Here it is.” With a smile, she offered Ginny a small red book. “I’ve had this little Bible for a while but it’s not being used. Would you like to have it?”
“A Bible? For my own? You’d really give that to me?” Ginny wasn’t accustomed to receiving gifts, but she timidly accepted the book. “I’ll take good care of it.”
The park gazebo offered shelter while she considered how to keep the book safe. If it was discovered, it would be confiscated and her parents would take great delight in tormenting her about her “sweet little book of fairy tales”. As she searched for a solution, a couple of boys arrived and started tossing a football. Unnoticed, Ginny couldn’t help overhearing their conversation.
“Hey, did ya hear what happened down at the Black house this morning?”
“I did see some police cars headin’ that way. What was goin’ on?”
“They got raided, and my mom and dad are plenty happy about it. They say that Black family is nothin’ but trouble, and it’s about time they got what’s comin’ to ‘em.”
“They’re trouble, all right, except that little Ginny. My Aunt Lena says she’s as sweet as she can be.”
“Well if she is, she must be the “white” sheep in the family!”
Alarm propelled her down the street, with the sound of their laughter ringing in her ears. Ginny couldn’t run fast enough. What was happening at her house? Was her family okay?
Her life changed drastically that day, but when everything had settled, she found herself growing up in a far away town. Beyond the trauma, Ginny never forgot that overheard conversation. She was a Black and she couldn’t change that, but Lena Daniels believed in her. She did not have to be another black sheep. She could be a white sheep. That hope compelled her to strive for excellence. It was the power that enabled her to succeed in the business world. That hope and the little red Bible stayed with her always, though she never found her way to church again, and her Bible remained unread.
“Bbrriinn!” The ringing of the telephone roused Ginny to the demands of the day. Over the next week, she caught an occasional glimpse of the little white church through her window, but her job kept her surprisingly busy. It wasn’t until night that she would remember. “I can be a white sheep.” “I’m not like the rest of my family.” The thoughts persisted. The thoughts plagued her in fact, because now Ginny understood the struggle it was to maintain a pure, white coat. Her years in the world, in fact, had left many a stain behind.
“I’m not so different after all. Wrong is wrong, whether you’re selling illegal firearms out of your house, or stretching the truth to seal a deal… so many things I never imagined I’d ever be guilty of… I feel so dirty… I wish I could wash all the grime away.”
Depression finally settled upon her. As she sat at her desk close to tears, she mockingly told herself, “You must need to be in church. They’ve got all the answers over there.”
If she would have looked out her window over at the church across the park, she would have seen the pastor working at the signboard. When he finished, she would have seen the title of Sunday’s message: Isaiah 1:18: The Only Real Solution To Those Dirty Stains
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
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