I am certain that I’ll never forget him – the dirty ten-year old boy who showed up at my first arts and craft class with the sole purpose of tormenting me.
For me, it was just a summer job at a local playground – a way to make sure I’d be able to go back to college in the fall. I needed money. Sam had a need, too, but it wasn’t money.
My assistant, also a college student, was a no-show that first day. “Great.” I muttered under my breath as I watched the ill-mannered kids shoving each other. This was the playground in the poor part of town. The playground where no one wanted to work. Apparently that included my aide.
It didn’t take Sam long to make his presence known. A few well-aimed punches and nasty kicks sent his peers scattering before he jumped on top of my craft table. He sneered at me. “I suppose you’re gonna make me git down.”
His dirty body and tattered clothing were disturbing to me and helped me choose my course of action. “No, not really.” A quick glance allowed me to see that he wasn’t expecting my response.
I tried not to shake as I put the craft items on the table. Sam jumped up and down, making the materials roll off the table.
“Whatcha gonna do now, lady?” He was just itching for a fight, a confrontation.
After I silently prayed, “Help me, Jesus,” I told the group, “We’re going to sit down like the ladies and gentlemen we are so I can start today’s project.”
“We’re-not-ladies-and-gentlemen.” His face was full of defiance as he spit out the words.
My heart pounded as I tried to smile and act like I was the one in control. I didn’t have a clue what I should do. The Rec and Parks director hadn’t prepared me for kids like this.
I began instructing the kids how to weave brightly colored twine around a small basket. A loud smack sent one of the little ones running tearfully away. The minute I heard skin contacting skin, I knew who was responsible.
“Whatcha gonna do now, lady?”
“I’m going to ask you to help me, Sam. Would you like to help me?”
Sam looked as though I had smacked him. “You want me to help you?”
“Yes. I’d like you to help me.” I wondered if I had lost my marbles. I was asking the bully of the West End to help me. The one who just kicked and elbowed and smacked his way to the top of my craft table.
His hard features softened a little and he asked me what I wanted him to do. The other kids became quiet. They surely wondered if the Rec and Parks Department had sent a looney tune to teach crafts.
“No one ever asks Sam to help,” a girl whispered as she stepped behind me.
As I explained to Sam how to help the other kids weave the twine, he interrupted. “Lady, what’s your name?”
He sat next to a young girl and showed her how to wrap the twine around the basket spokes. The group quieted down and worked on their baskets.
It was ever so faint, but I heard it. “Cyndi, Cyndi, Cyndi.”
Not sure who was sing-songing my name, I looked around the table. Sam’s shy eyes sneaked a peak at me, the hint of a smile in the corners of his mouth. I smiled at him.
My shift over, I loaded the left-over crafts into my car and drove to my parents’ home. Had I looked into my rearview mirror, I would have noticed.
I wasn’t home very long before I heard the song – “Cyndi, Cyndi, Cyndi” – through the open windows. This time it was louder but oh, so sweet. Looking out the window, I watched him ride his rusted bicycle back and forth past our house, smiling and singing his song. He was a long way from home.
Upon arriving at the playground the next morning, he was already there waiting for me. He looked at the ground and asked if he could help me again. “I was hoping you’d want to help me, Sam. You’re a really good helper.” We smiled at each other, the rough, tough West End bully and the college girl.
He rode past my parents’ house every summer until I married. Always smiling. Always singing . Once an unwanted bully. Now a person of value.
Know anyone who needs an encouraging word? Don’t wait. Say it. Be the person they sing to.
“The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2011
I have developed a discerning taste for books. You see, I only have so much free time, so when I read for pleasure, I want the book to capture me and take me to another place, another time. Are you like this?
When I learned that Marcia Moston wrote a book about the calling God placed on her life, my ears perked up. Marcia Moston, you see, has a reputation for taking ordinary words and weaving them into a spell-binding story that sweeps you into another world with such swiftness and grace that you are unaware you left home.
Call of the Coward – The God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife is a riveting account of Ms. Moston, her husband and daughter heeding God’s call to leave their comfortable American life and minister to people in Guatemala.
I hoped Ms. Moston would find excitement and danger in her journey and I was not disappointed. Throughout their mountain-top stay, Ms. Moston’s vivid descriptions, especially of an overcrowded bus that traveled up and down a narrow mountain road with wheels that sometimes left the road and spun in mid-air, left me breathless.
The book ended before I was ready. For weeks afterward, thanks to Ms. Moston’s deft writing, I drifted back to Guatemala, savoring the people, the land, and the Moston family’s adventures. It’s a book worthy of your time.
To enter SOAR WITH EAGLES’ book giveaway, please leave a comment along with your name and a way for me to contact you. Your contact information will be kept private and will not be displayed with your comment.
The winner will be selected randomly from a drawing of everyone who submits a comment by 9:00 p.m., Thursday, August 9, 2012. The winner will be announced on SOAR WITH EAGLES on August 10, 2012, by first name only.
Copies of Call of the Coward – The God of Moses and the Middle-Class Housewife can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christian Book Distributors and local bookstores.
Please visit Marcia Moston’s website: http://marciamoston.com
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
Cynthia Howerter © 2012Read More