A Remarkable Little Boy…

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“Daddy, tell me another story” was the repeated call from my youngest.  “Daddy, make it funny like the others”, requested the little ponytailed redhead.  “Make it one about church”, well that certainly limits my options, or does it?

Funny, I don’t even have to be creative to come up with amusing stories from when I worked in church.  All I need to do is be still for a moment and allow myself to remember.  The longer I’m quiet the more information floods my memory, seems like I have a hefty reserve available.

This came to mind.

The young boys name was Monte.  He was a tow-headed fellow, face full of freckles, great big toothy smile- probably around 7-8 years old.  He made a point to speak to every person he came in contact with.  Not being shy, he didn’t filter much of his conversation and one could expect a wide range of topics to talk about.  He had no friends because of his difference.  He was treated more like a pet than a child.  Monte would try to fit in and become like the other children but he seldom found much success.  He spent all his time with his grandmother in the nursery.  She was the church’s paid babysitter during church services.  She was quite old and her health was failing but Monte was always near her. 

Monte had Down Syndrome and acted like any other child except he was limited on his functionality.  Kind, caring, trusting eyes greeted every person.  Even though he was alone in this world he was not a loner.  I would often find myself on the floor engaged in deep conversation with him.

Monte had one peccadillo that caused many people in the church to have pause.  I believe if this one little issue could have been addressed, his life might have been totally different.  He might have been allowed to play with the other children had this been extinguished, but such was his fate.  Monte looked different from the other kids and acted different from the other kids, yet deep down inside, he was just like each and every other kid.

His downfall stemmed from his discomfort with clothing.  Monte simply didn’t like the way he felt when he wore clothes.  To him walking around the hallway of the church completely barren was a natural as breathing.  This of course bothered many of the people and his poor old grandmother would apologize and try to put his clothes back on him. 

Imagine the shock of horror found on a visitors face as they approached the nursery only to be greeted by a nude boy walking the other direction.  I’m certain he welcomed them and tried to strike up a conversation, but to no avail.  Whenever a loud scream was sounded we knew Monte had decided to go for a walk and he happened upon someone who wasn’t quite as understanding as most of the people from our church.

Monte made that church interesting, he kept things really fresh, we never knew when he would take one of his famous walks.  Truthfully, I thought he was entertaining and looked forward to each exciting chapter with him.  As one would imagine, complaints began to accumulate and the grandmother was told she would need to prevent Monte from parading himself about the church or he would not be welcome anymore.

After this pronouncement I would go by the nursery from time to time and see Monte sitting with his grandmother with the life in his eyes beginning to dim.  A sad image to take in.  His spirit was broken and he became a lifeless little boy after that.

Like all good rebels in life, the downtime was actually used to plot his next move, and boy, was it going to be a doosie.  Monte had a plan.

The sanctuary was full that Sunday morning, the choir looked angelic in their crimson robes, this was to be a Sunday service not soon forgotten.  After a rousing anthem by the choir the pastor strode triumphantly to the pulpit.  With his arms flailing and fists pounding, the message reverberated throughout the sanctuary.  At first the sound was almost indecipherable, but then it grew progressively louder.  Finally everyone focused their eyes on the location of the incoming noise.  As the collective congregants watched, Monte leaped from the steps of the baptismal pool into the water.  A wave of liquid slowly strengthened and delivered a baptism on the choir unlike any they had previously witnessed.  The drenching was so complete that church members met some choir members seemingly for the first time.  Make up and hair spray serve a purpose, especially for a choir made up of blue haired saints like these.  Wow!  The pastor stood stunned as the choir began to scatter in every direction.  Sheet music went everywhere…people starred in disbelief.  It was only a brief period but it seemed to last an eternity, this surreal moment had everyone asking, “did that really just happen?”

When the ruckus dissipated all eyes were transfixed on the image before them.  Swimming happily in the baptistry with only the clear glass wall facing the congregation was a naked Monte.  Everyone in the church that day understand completely that he was all boy.  And as a boy he would do the same things other boys his age liked to do and today that meant going for a swim.  His big toothy smile was back in full view as he hung on the front of the glass waving to all the bewildered onlookers. 

Monte and his grandmother didn’t come back to our church after that and they seemingly walked off into the sunset never to be heard from again.  That was truly a shame.  I’ll never forget that silly boy and his crazy antics that one very special day.  He did what no one else could do back then, and believe me, many had tried.  He managed to shut up that long winded preacher and allowed us to go home early.

I like to call it the “Miracle of Monte.”

A New Day, A New Hope…

 

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Today, I again find myself in a position I had long since vacated.  I am again pleased to be an American.  It has been a very long time since I’ve had the ability to say this honestly.  Today…I’m so very proud!

Our country elected a fine leader, one who is both authentic and charismatic.  A person who challenges us to achieve, to become fully what we are deemed to become.  This man, while fully human, complete with flaws is the specific man needed to take our country back from the institution that has held it captive for so many years.  The challenge will be extreme, likened to pushing sludge uphill, but possible with a united effort of community.

For weeks I’ve listened and read about all the reasons why Barack Obama would not make a good president.  I’ve found myself knee-deep in debate on numerous occasions resisting the “good ole’ boy” network.”  The disturbing trend used to vilify an opponent were not only repulsive but also repugnant.  Church leaders who stated “a vote for Obama means you could not possibly be a  Christian.”  Fear may be a motivator for some church leaders, but not for seekers of truth and justice. 

My daughter asked me if Obama’s brother killed Americans.  This is what she picked up at school.  A classic example of children acting out what they hear in the home.  Fortunately, the confusion she felt was resolved by her mother who explained the reality of what she misunderstood.  I’m sure there will be much more disinformation spread and an agenda of half-truths will surface.  Of this we can be completely certain, opponents of change will fight with full resolve to make sure real change doesn’t take place.  Why be part of the solution when you can continue being part of the problem?

Today, we have hope that tomorrow can be different.  That for the first time the world knows the people of the United States want things to be different.  For the first time in a long time people around the globe will realize Americans are not all the same.  America now respects people of all backgrounds, each has the opportunity to achieve anything they want.

It was only forty short years ago that people fought for the rights of African-Americans to be treated with the same respect and rights as all others.  The civil rights workers who  fought so valiantly and sacrificed so much can take comfort knowing their efforts were not in vain.  This election was the culmination of a dream, a reality made real by a gifted Senator from Illinois.

This election was won because the youth of this generation joined together to overthrow a corrupt, power hungry government that had completely lost it’s way.  Just like the revolutionary youth of the 60’s, the young people of today knew how desperately change was needed and did whatever was required so it would come to fruition.  Without the mobilizing of our county’s young people this historic event would never have occured. 

So thank you for giving me and my family our country back.  Thank you for allowing me to share the goodness of the American way again with my children.  I’ve missed my country…I’m glad to have you back.