Preston Yancey, who overturns most of what you think you know about Millenials and Baptists and Texans, is a brilliant young writer-friend. He’s hosting a flat-out interesting series on his site called Conversations With Ourselves, in which your present self has a chance to catch up with your past or future self, particularly around matters of faith. (My favourite of the series so far was by Seth Haines, the guy can write. Today, I’m honoured to contribute my own essay on the topic.
I caught sight of her. And I loved her.
She is so much smaller than I remember, tall for her age, sure, but still, a child, every inch of her childish and lean and believing. She’s in the front row of folding metal chairs at the community centre (of course she is), beside her little sister (of course she is). Her young mother delights, I know, in the small rituals, pressed matching sundresses, flossed teeth, curled hair, church. Her parents lavished happiness and routine, stability and joy, on their daughters, and it’s Sunday morning so here we are, at the Regina Community Centre.
I know things about this small girl.
I know that she’ll give her whole two-dollar bill to the offering plate, and she will love the high sacrifice of that moment, because self-denial and heroism appeals to her small soul, she’s so anxious to please these ones that love God. I know she loves Jesus with her whole small heart, all four chambers of it already filled with songs and Bible verses and mystic made-up prayers and holy languages, and this motley crew of believers, clapping in the community centre, singing loud and off-key, the blood of it all carrying oxygen everywhere ahead. I know she feels like she belongs.
I know that she loves to play Boys Chase The Girls at school. I know she discovered there was no Santa Claus after months of practicing her handwriting at the kitchen table, copying her mother’s neat cursive, and then, on Christmas morning with one glance at the tag signed Love Santa, knew. I know she reads in the spare room closet, sitting in her old white bucket car-seat, lost and found all at once. I know she bats clean-up in softball, and I know the aching release of blood flowing that comes to her cold feet when she finally takes off her white figure skates after a night on the outdoor rink, her lungs full of cold pure snow air, I know she whispers to her sister-friend across the expanse between their matching white twin beds, I know she dances in the basement to the old record player, prides herself on colouring in the lines so well, swims with her eyes open under the cold lake water. I know she’s happy.
And I know what is ahead.