Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Persuasion (not about the book) (09/01/11)
TITLE: They Will Come
By Beth Muehlhausen
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When Miss Moses moved into her moss-roofed shanty - a saggy-roofed, dingy gray-white one with curly black paint peeling off the door and windowsills - things began to change on Third Street.
Swarms of Third Street children followed aromatic fingers wafting from Miss Moses’ windows to penetrate the trash-strewn ally and advertise her fresh-baked bread. Stories quickly spread about “The Cookie Grandma” who welcomed neighborhood youngsters to sit at the red-checkered-covered kitchen table, share stories, and gobble warm chocolate chip cookies or steamy biscuits slathered with heavily spiced, homemade apple butter.
At that friendly table, Miss Moses told the children eye-popping tales of Biblical heroes - ordinary people, not unlike those on Third Street - who depended on God with unwavering faith. She taught them to sing “Sweet By and By” and “Count Your Blessings,” and to petition the Lord Jesus Christ with eyes closed and hands clasped. “Lawd Almighty, have mercy on us here on Third Street! We love you, Lawd!”
Generosity poured from Miss Moses like a cool mountain stream emanating from the depths of her artesian soul and trickled through the neighborhood as surely as the bags of tomatoes and nosegays of flowers she shared. Her musical voice babbled optimistically as she spoke to all as if they were family. Indeed, she believed they were.
“Mrs. Washington! How’s that new baby? And Tyrel! How was the first day of school, my man?”
The neighbors often heard Miss Moses humming “It is Well with my Soul,” or “Amazing Grace,” or “Holy, Holy, Holy” with the conviction, and soft hush, of a waterfall. Her acapella repertoire of hymn classics seemed almost endless.
Rivers of sweat poured down Miss Moses’ round cheeks as she gardened with the vigor and intensity of a person half her age. Younger neighbors watched from the privacy of their own tattered bungalow windows, enraptured. Gradually, but steadily, her contagious passion for life spread among her neighbors.
Daisies and Black-Eyed Susans sprang up in other yards along Third Street. On hot summer nights Miss Moses bellowed, “Come and get your free lemonade,” and people not only flocked to her porch, but lingered to celebrate the end of the day together. When she painted her house, a few others helped - and then she returned the favor when it was time for them to paint theirs. Miss Moses walked her usual mile on Sunday mornings while meditating up and down Third Street, before hiking the five blocks to worship in a sanctuary. More and more families chose to accompany her to church.
Previously indifferent neighbors began chatting over their back yard fences, sharing secret family recipes for lard-infused cornbread or black-eyed peas and greens, and offering each other samples of their favorite versions of sweet potato pie.
One day while sitting at Miss Moses’ kitchen table, a pigtail-studded eight-year-old Sabrina confessed, “I want to be just like you when I grow up.” Sabrina’s chocolate eyes sparkled from some deep inner well as she petted Miss Moses’ newest foster tomcat, Rufus, who had shown up the day before.
“Honey, I thank you for that. I surely do. But you’re not me – you’re special! You need to grow up to be whoever God made YOU to be.” Miss Moses beamed as Rufus purred beneath Sabrina’s hand. “Now here … you’d better be getting home in time for supper, but take this cookie to your brother Thomas. Tell him if he wants some more he’d better get himself over here and visit me – I haven’t seen him for at least a week!”
Miss Moses did not believe in coercion, or programs, or legislating matters of the heart. Rather, her straightforward philosophy of life was based on persuasive example that flowed like a river.
Live and let live. Love and encourage love. Accept unconditionally. Expect God’s presence. Be true to yourself by being true to Him. Enjoy each day as a gift. Pray often. Appreciate beauty. Serve until it hurts. Be convinced of your beliefs – be earnest, honest, and excited. Explore confidently. Seek adventurously. Live passionately. Work and play hard. Share generously. Weep well. Laugh well. Suffer well. Hope well. Forgive well.
Be fluid. Authentic. And in so doing draw others toward God. Let His living water flow. And they will come.
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