August 28, 2007

Papa, Why?

Sometimes, we wonder why we think or feel about certain things as we do--how we develop concepts in our thinking, forming memories that trigger particular emotions--emotions that, sometimes, affect every aspect of our lives, when we least expect it.

For instance, when I was very young, I had a pretty little doll. Santa Claus brought it to me. The doll had a little rosebud of a mouth, and in the center of the rosebud, a little round hole, just large enough for a tiny, plastic nipple of a bottle of water, from which the doll, supposedly, drank. There was another hole in the doll, in the center of the buttocks.

When I examined the doll, I was very impressed. Now, Santa's elves were smart little creatures to think of putting a hole for the water to drain out of, because I thought that if you kept letting the doll drink water all the time, that it would fill up with water, if it didn't have a place to drip out, again.

One evening we had company. It was someone related to Papa, my step-grandfather--a brother, I think. Wanting to be nice, and to gain Papa's approval, I decided to show my doll to the company, which was a hard thing for me to do, because I was very bashful. Besides, if he stayed in a good mood, he wouldn't fuss so much at Big Mama.

Trying to be very courageous, I brought out the doll, and while displaying it, I explained that the hole in the mouth was for the water to go into, and assuming that they knew that the other hole was for the water to drain out of so that the doll wouldn't become full of water, and wanting to get the whole thing over and done with as quickly as possible, I simplified the matter by saying, "It goes in one end", and lifting up the dress, pointing to the hole there, said, "and it comes out the other."

Papa suddenly leapt from his chair, grabbing my arm, jerking my feet off the floor, spinning me around at the same time, and began to spank my buttocks and my legs with the open palm of his hand. Over and over again, making loud smacking sounds, taking my breath away, seeming to go on endlessly.

Finally, he sat me down hard on a chair, and said, "Now, ain't you ashamed of yourself--acting ugly like that!" I sat there, everyone's eyes upon me. Hot, scalding tears poured down my cheeks, turned red with shame and humiliation. I tried to think, through the stinging pain coming from the big, palm-shaped red welts, now covering my legs, why I was supposed to be ashamed of myself.

Later on, lying in bed, tears still streaming down my cheeks, running into my ears, I could hear Papa fussing at Big Mama, far into the night--berating her over "Sarah's young'un actin' ugly like that," and saying, "Sarah needs to be kicked to hell and back for giving her vulgar stuff like that!" But that didn't make any sense at all--hadn't Santa Claus left that doll for me? And I still couldn't figure out what awful thing I had done--but it must have been awful, because now I felt so sick and ashamed.

My doll was taken away from me, and disposed of because of my shameful, and vulgar, behavior. It was sometime later that I realized what that little hole in the doll's bottom was supposed to be, and what the water that came out of it represented. I was pretty sure that they knew, too, which was probably the reason that Papa was so angry with me--but I wondered why nobody bothered to tell me. Some things you just have to find out for yourself. The hard way.

But it's funny, I never felt the same about Papa after that--and the next time that he put his hand under my skirt, and touched me, "down there, " I was going to tell Big Mama. No matter how much he said, "If you tell on me, I'll whip you good!"

The Way Kids See It

STORY OF ELIJAH The Sunday school teacher was carefully explaining the story of Elijah the Prophet and the false prophets of Baal. She explained how Elijah built the altar, put wood upon it, cut a steer in pieces, and laid it upon the altar. And then, Elijah commanded the people of God to fill four barrels of water and pour it over the altar. He had them do this four times "Now, asked the teacher, "Can anyone in the class tell me why the Lord would have Elijah pour water over the steer on the altar?" A little girl in the back of the room started waving her hand, "I know! I know!" she said, "To make the gravy!"
LOT 'S WIFE The Sunday School teacher was describing how Lot 's wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt,when little Jason interrupted, "My Mommy looked back once, while she was driving," he announced triumphantly, "and she turned into a telephone pole!"
GOOD SAMARITAN A Sunday school teacher was telling her class the story of the Good Samaritan, in which a man was beaten, robbed and left for dead. She described the situation in vivid detail so her students would catch the drama. Then, she asked the class, "If you saw a person lying on the roadside, all wounded and bleeding, what would you do?" A thoughtful little girl broke the hushed silence, "I think I'd throw up."
DID NOAH FISH? A Sunday school teacher asked, "Johnny, do you think Noah did a lot of fishing when he was on the Ark ?""No," replied David. "How could he, with just two worms?"
HIGHER POWER A Sunday school teacher said to her children, " We have been learning how powerful kings and queens were in Bible times. But, there is a higher power. Can anybody tell me what it is?" One child blurted out, "Aces!"
MOSES AND THE RED SEA Nine-year-old Joey, was asked by his mother what he had learned in Sunday school. "Well, Mom, our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt . When he got to the Red Sea , he had his army build a pontoon bridge and all the people walked across safely. Then, he radioed headquarters for reinforcements. They sent bombers to blow up the bridge and all the Israelites were saved." "Now, Joey, is that really what your teacher taught you?" his mother asked. "Well, no, Mom. But, if I told it the way the teacher did, you'd never believe it!"
THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD A Sunday School teacher decided to have her young class memorize one of the most quoted passages in the Bible; Psalm 23. She gave the youngsters a month to learn the verse. Little Rick was excited about the task -- but, he just couldn't remember the Psalm. After much practice, he could barely get past the first line. On the day that the kids were scheduled to recite Psalm 23 in front of the congregation, Ricky was so nervous. When it was his turn, he stepped up to the microphone and said proudly, "The Lord is my Shepherd, and that's all I need to know."
THE QUILT Sunday after church, a Mom asked her very young daughter what the lesson was about. The daughter answered, "Don't be scared, you'll get your quilt "Needless to say, the Mom was perplexed. Later in the day, the pastor stopped by for tea and the Mom asked him what that morning's Sunday school lesson was about. He said "Be not afraid, thy comforter is coming."

Words of Wisdom

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others,you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

~Max Ehrmann, Desiderata