The Lost Sheep
The morning sun slanted into the rickety box car as the train whined to a stop at the depot.
Calvin rubbed the soot out of his eyes and stood on wobbly legs. He grabbed up an old satchel and dropped down from the car.
Across the street sat four dilapidated houses. A scream pierced the air and he looked in that direction to see a small blonde girl. She was dancing up and down on bare feet. A large black dog stood just a few feet away a low growl issuing from his throat.
Calvin approached carefully—“Stop screaming and stand still.” He reached into the frayed pocket of his jeans and pulled out what was left of a bologna sandwich that he’d been saving and yelled,” Here!” tossing it on the other side of the dog. The dog swiftly shifted his attention to the sandwich.
The man scooped up the little girl in his arms and carefully turned and started to slowly walk away.. He could feel the girl shivering as she clung to him tears dripped on his old t-shirt as she sniffled loudly.
Just then a screen door banged on a house and a large woman stepped out a wide white smile across her dark ebony face. “Lawd a mighty you is a God send!” At the sound of her voice the little girl released her tight hold around his neck ,slid to the ground and ran to her arms.
”Thank you mister,” the lady said as she stood up.
He nodded and began to walk by.
“Oh no you don’t. You gots to have a reeward for rescuing Emma..
“No,” he protested
“Yes you come on in and share our lunch.”
Calvin’s stomach growled.
She held the door open as he stepped into the tiny house. More children played on the floor.
The woman led him into the kitchen. “Ma’am I ain’t in no shape to sit in your kitchen,” he protested as he looked down at his filthy clothes.
“ Name’s Hannah and don’t you worry none you go on and sit yourself right down there at the table.”
As the smell of frying bacon filled the room he looked up at the picture of a young man in uniform. The woman turned about then and followed his gaze. That be my late hubsund ,” she said. “He died in the war”
. The man looked down at his hands as they began to tremble.
“Come on in children lunch is ready.”
She quickly doled out a piece of bacon to each child and Calvin along with a square of cornbread.
The children bowed their heads and Hannah prayed for the food and for Calvin.
She heaved a sigh as she sat down opposite him
A companionable silence fell over the room as they ate.
When they had finished he began to rise from his chair thanking her; sorry that the time in this pleasant kitchen was over so soon.
“Thank you for rescuing my little Emma . But don’t you be leavin’ so soon. Stay and listen to the Bible story I got to tell the little uns before their nap.”
“Hope you don’t mind but they’s been beggin’ me to hear that story of the little lost sheep again.”
“Now let’s sing Jesus loves me,””she smiled at Calvin.
At first he just hummed but then he caught up with them at the chorus lending his deep baritone to their chirping voices. Memories of his childhood flooded his heart.
Then Hannah began to tell the story. “The good Shepherd had 100 sheep and one night as he counted them he realized one of them was missing so he went out into the in the rain and wind to search for that sheep.” .
Calvin scratched his head —“ but he still had 99.”
“Yes but each sheep was precious to him. He’s a picture of Jesus who is our Good Shepherd. He don’t want any of His sheep to wander away and be lost out in the cold and rain He go looking for them and find them and bring them back.”
Calvin felt tears on his cheeks “Do you think Jesus is looking for some old hobo?”
“ I think he be looking for them in particular especially ones that give their last meal away to some old stray dog and carries a poor little girl to safety.”
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