Flower in the Wind
Copyright© 2012 by Robert McKay
I didn't have my Bible with me, but that was all right. I pulled Al down to sit beside me in the grass, disregarding the possibility of stains on our clothes. At that my dark pants wouldn't show them very much, but if her dress stained it would definitely show. But that wasn't the point.
Abbie was still engrossed in her flower, so I turned back to Al and took both her hands in mine. "You remember Tyrone told us this morning about Jesus rising from the dead."
"Yes. That got me thinking. If that was real history, just like the Battle of Gettysburg or the landing on the moon—" those had been Tyrone's examples "—then I can't disregard it, or anything else."
"No, you can't. Do you know what came before the resurrection?"
"That's right. He died – really and truly died. He was as dead as anyone has ever been. He was in that tomb for three days, long enough to begin stinking. And then – He rose from the dead."
"Okay, I believe that. Tyrone convinced me."
"Well, it wasn't just Tyrone," I said with a grin. "The Holy Spirit was involved too. But where I'm headed," I went on, my face growing serious, "is the reason Jesus died. As long as you've been going to church with me, I'm sure you've heard John 3:16 several times. You might even be able to quote it."
"Is that the one about God giving His Son so that people won't die, but live forever?"
"That's very close to a quote, Al – better than some people who've been in church for years could do. So the reason Jesus died, then, was to save people, to use Christian language. There's another verse I'm sure you've heard: 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.' Let me ask you this, Al: Are you a sinner?"
She stared at me for a moment. "You have to ask me that?" she finally said.
"Al, I know what I think. What I'm asking for is your view of yourself."
"Well, I can't say I'm not a sinner. Whatever the reasons, I was a prostitute. And again, whatever the reasons, I ran off and left you, and went back into prostitution." It had been a while since she'd used the more brutal words for that "profession," and I was glad. "But I am out of that now..."
"That's true, and I'm glad. Tell me this, then: If I were to run down the Ten Commandments, would you measure up?"
"Well, I've never killed anyone..."
"No. But let's take the first one. Have you ever put anything before God in your heart?"
"Yes – you. And ... and survival..."
"Never mind the past, Al. Just putting me before God makes you a sinner, for He says you're not to do that. We know about the commandment against adultery, and won't say anything more about it." I tried to remember the list from Exodus. "Have you ever stolen anything?"
"Have you ever lied about someone?"
"Yes." Her voice was very quiet.
"Well," I said, "we've got at least four out of ten that you've broken. And the first one at least you're still breaking, aren't you?"
"Yes – but I want to put God first now."
"Okay, and we'll get to that, but I want to keep my place." She rewarded me with a small smile. "Given the record, would you say you're a sinner – not even considering what I brought you out of?"
"And it seems clear to me that you're tired of that, and want out of it."
"Yes." She seemed to think of something. "You know, this reminds me of that day when you took me away from Central. I was tired of that, and wanted out. And you got me out of it."
"That's a very similar thing, Al. That day I was a sort of savior to you. And there's a stronger, better Savior who will, if you wish it, take you out of sin – not just specific sins, but sin itself."
"I do wish it."
Abbie dropped what was left of her dandelion and got up on her feet. I snagged her and sat her in my lap, and pulled out my keys for her to play with. "Then what you need to do, Al, is trust Jesus to take you out – to deliver you, to save you as we say it in Christian language. You trusted me that day, down there in that motel room on Central. You looked at me and just trusted me. Now you need to simply trust Jesus."
"Don't I need to pray or something?"
"You can, if you want to. If that will help you to trust, or to express your trust, then by all means, pray."
"But I don't know how."
"You've heard me pray, Alison," I said gently.
She nodded, and then bowed her head. I stroked Abbie's hair, and watched her as she flashed the sunlight off of the keys in her hand. It was a couple of minutes before Al raised her head, and when she did something was different about her. I couldn't quantify it or describe it, for nothing had physically changed. Her features were the same, but there still was something different about them. Perhaps the nearest I can get to it is to say that there was a new life there.
She reached out her hand and took mine. "Alan, I feel different."
"I'm sure you do. But the feeling isn't the fact."
"No, I know it's not. I've learned that much at least listening to Tyrone all these months. But I do feel different – more alive somehow. I feel like for the first time I can see."
I smiled at her and quoted one of my favorite hymns: "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found; was blind, but now I see."
"That's it exactly!" She gave me the broadest smile I think I'd ever seen on her face. "That is exactly what I'm talking about!"
"There's a passage in the Bible," I said, "that gave those words to John Newton. Jesus healed a man who'd been blind from birth, and when the religious leaders questioned him he said, 'one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.' And that's where you are, isn't it?"
"Yes, that's where I am. Exactly where I am." She shook her head. "I keep using that word, don't I? Oh, who cares! I was blind, and I do see, and I don't care if I overuse a word!"
Nor did I care. I had loved Al through it all, even when my flesh had wanted to destroy her in pain and rage, and now I could love her not merely as my wife, but also as my sister in the Lord. She could speak English as poorly as Darvin Carpenter for all I cared.
After a bit we each took Abbie by the hand and walked around the park for a bit. I checked the back of Al's dress and she hadn't stained it, so that was all right. Perhaps grass is tougher than it was when I was young, for I remember that I seemed to pick up grass stains just by stepping on our lawn in Seattle. Perhaps children are different from adults. Or maybe it is the grass.
After a bit Al spoke again. "I just thought of something, Alan. The next time we have communion, I'll be able to take part in it."