Observations #14

From the Schoolhouse

The SOL test was over and the kids were just chatting quietly waiting for lunch.  I was tired and a little bored.  Without saying a word, I just went to the blackboard and wrote three words in Greek.  Then I sat down.  The kids were whispering. I could hear them.  They couldn’t figure it out.  Finally, someone asked, “What language is that?”

“Greek,” I said.

A few kids came closer to the board, studying the swirls of the mysterious language. I was amazed that after three hours of writing on an English prompt they had any inquisitiveness left at all.  Still, they persisted.

“What does it mean?” asked one boy scratching his head.  The others gathered around closely, huddling like I was about to announce the final play in a hard-fought football game.

I hesitated.  I hadn’t predicted this outcome, and now I stood on the brink.  I glanced at the clock thinking it might yelp that lunch was ready.  But it didn’t.  It was just me and the boys in a tight huddle waiting breathlessly for the play.

The words were weighted with a religious message I had never intended to disclose.  It was just a random act in a moment of ennui.  I wrote three Greek words that had meaning to me.  But they were silent and secret.

Until now.  Now, they waited.  Now I hesitated.

I was like the ancient Fangshi Chinese masters who knew where the secret mushrooms grew on Mt.Penglai, the ones that bestowed eternal life to the initiated.   I had written Greek.  I knew the secret.

So, I bent low in the huddle and whispered the secret words scribbled in Greek high on the chalkboard;

God is love.

From the Pulpit

We traversed a lot of territory Sunday stopping first at the Trevi Fountain in Rome and then ambling over to Herod’s Temple.  It took 32 years to complete the Trevi Fountain which was conceived and started in 1730 by Nicola Salvi.  But it took 80 years to complete the exquisite temple complex in Jerusalem.  Neither Salvi nor Herod lived to see their prized projects.  Our text this Sunday (Mark 14) introduced us to an impoverished little widow who stood meekly in line within the Court of the Women in the temple to give her contribution to God.  The wealthy donors put their money in the trumpet shaped treasury boxes listening to the coins sing as they traveled down the chute to the box.  The little widow only had two coins, the two smallest coins in the Roman world called prutahs.  They were worthless coins, but they were all she had.  And it was her contribution that an observing Jesus took note of, summoning his disciples over to hear Him sing her praise.

From the Pews

I’m still pondering the Visitor who waltzed into the sanctuary Sunday morning.

It went something like this:  I had just started the sermon waxing eloquently about the Trevi Fountain and the ritual of tossing a few coins over the shoulder to win a romantic gift from the heavens when the Visitor strolled in.  It was a majestic entrance.  She paused for effect at the center aisle adjusting her tiara and royal multicolored scarf.  She was a squat, thick-boned African American woman whom I can only assume was a bit disoriented.  She scanned the audience looking for safe ground. Still unsure, she waddled forth with a measure of uncertainty and sat down heavily in the center right section of the sanctuary.

At this point I was confused, nonplussed over this apparent heavenly response to the coin toss I had just made at the Trevi Fountain. I had hoped for a rejuvenation of my already established romance, but now I wondered if my coins got scrambled in the mists of the Fountain and sent to the wrong celestial address–5 Golden Street ℅ New Romances instead of 7 Golden Street ℅ Continuing Romances.  As I was trying to sort this out while maintaining my pulpit composure I noticed from the corner of my eye that she was getting restless.  This, in turn, made me restless and just as I was about to have a final prayer, dismiss early and run for the hills, she rose like an ocean swell her cape fluttering in the breeze and glanced my way.  We made eye contact for one memorable second, a second forever seared into my memory, a moment in time pregnant with possibilities and then she turned and galloped toward the exit disappearing into the mists of time, forever a mystery.

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