Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Black Sheep of the Family (10/03/13)
- TITLE: Feathers and Wool
By Susan Gurney
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“Friends... family... it is a privilege this day to honor my Babushka, my dear Grandma Feathers. Though most saw her as a simple, thoughtful woman, those who knew her best knew that Marta Romanov could be a headstrong force with which to be reckoned!”
A few chuckles floated up, along with nods and the dabbing of eyes.
“Born fifth of eight children in 1923 in Moscow, Russia, Marta was secretly introduced at a young age to the gospel of Jesus by her Christian babushka--her mother’s mother. Even Marta’s parents--who were already becoming good communist atheists--did not know Marta had become a Christian at age eleven. As she grew older, Marta often spoke against the things she saw wrong: the abuse of alcohol by her parents and their friends; the condemnation by her world of all things “God”; and the injustices of life, including the fact she was being denied a higher education by society. Her parents, concerned about their drastically ‘different’ daughter, were alarmed when their older children reported that Marta had been talking about God to neighborhood friends. Amidst taunts of ‘belaya vorona!’--‘white crow!’--from neighbors and siblings, along with parental pressure to ‘keep her thoughts to herself’, Marta started begging her parents to let her go to Paris to finish her schooling. Finally they relented, telling sixteen year old Marta that if she could make her way there, they would scrape together a few rubles to help. Tearful goodbyes were said, with all knowing this would probably be the last time they would see Marta, and she, them. In 1939 Marta disappeared--quickly swallowed up by worldwide political upheaval, and her Russian family never saw or heard from her again. Yes, I’m sure regret was felt by both sides, but Marta always believed her family was relieved because ‘the white crow’--we would now call her ‘the black sheep of the family’--was out of sight and mind.”
“Most of you know the rest of the story: Marta skipped Paris all together and ended up in New York City, completed enough schooling to get her teacher’s certificate, and later married my Grandpa Lou. I want to close with a big ‘thank you’ to my Grandma Feathers up in Heaven for leading me to Christ when I was just a boy and starting me on the path I’m on today. Next Sunday I preach my first sermon in my first pastorate. I’m ‘Reverend’ Lawrence Williams now!”
A smattering of applause and murmurs rose from those gathered around Marta Romanov’s casket. As others stood to share memories, Lawrence’s mind drifted back... He could almost hear his grandmother:
“Now, Wool, why are your sisters again calling you ‘black sheep’? I thought that stopped long ago? Remember when you were nine, you came crying to me that your sisters called you that, and I said, ‘Don’t you think Jacob considered it a good thing when his flocks from Laban’s herds increased because the sheep and goats started having more black and speckled lambs which were specially set aside for him?’ And I told you all about how I was called ‘white crow’ in Russia, and that both names just mean we are different and stand out as special?”
“Yes, Babushka...and that’s when you started calling me ‘Wool’ and I started calling you ‘Feathers’ to remind us that we are special to God and each other... But now I have a big problem trying to get my family to understand me. I have flunked out of my first year at the Christian college my entire family attended. I feel God calling me into the ministry, but I know my path leads first to a secular university. I feel I need to be challenged in my faith, not coddled!”
“Wool, for this you need to consider the white crow, not the black sheep. A white crow stands out among his black brothers, and can attract much abuse; but in the snow, the white crow is safer than his black brothers because he can’t be seen by enemies. At the Christian college, everyone is a white crow in the snow, safe from the world. At the secular university, you will be one white crow in the midst of darkness...and it won’t be safe and it won’t be easy, but your faith will grow!”
*This is a work of fiction
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