In Case Dear Jesus Might Be Busy
April 1, 2015
THE STOOD THERE in the pitch dark, the three of them – two brothers, a sister, ages nine, eleven, and thirteen – preparing for their scary mission:
Walk down the long, frightful, lonely country road to meet the ten o’clock bus from downtown, the one with an older sister aboard, the sister who worked at the candy store, and walk her safely home.
But first, to gird for the mission, must come the prayer.
They had learned to pray at Parkdale Baptist Church, in Vacation Bible School.
Learned the lesson well: Always, always look to, trust in Jesus. Dear Jesus.
First time they tried it, the prayer did not exactly work.
It was during World War II, when most everything seemed to be rationed. Among “everything” there was a major shortage of sugar.
So one of the three had one time earnestly, fervently prayed:
“And, Dear Jesus, please let them put sugar instead of that bitter-tasting saccharine in the Poly Pop at Vacation Bible School tomorrow.”
Well, next day, that bitter-tasting saccharine was in the Poly Pop again.
The youngsters, used to having to constantly make adjustments in life, simply shrugged.
Maybe Jesus was just busy.
Too busy to arrange for a special ration of sugar for the Poly Pop at Vacation Bible School at Parkdale Baptist Church.
Still believing in prayer, though, the trio would gather in a small circle there in the driveway at The Home Place before beginning the long, dreaded walk down the dark country road to the bus stop to meet their sister.
And they would beseech Dear Jesus. Well, beg. Surely they would not come to refer to it as beseeching until much later.
So the pre-walk prayer to the bus stop would begin:
“Please keep us safe, as we walk, Dear Jesus.
“Please let the people that own the grey house where the big, snarling, mean Chow dog lives have him locked inside so he won’t come chasing after us, barking, threatening us, nipping at out feet and legs.
“Don’t let that car come, the one in which the driver loudly honks at us, deliberately swerves in our direction, bangs on a car door, laughs loudly at us, yells bad words at us. Words we are not allowed to say.
“And, please, Dear Jesus, don’t let anything or anybody come rushing out of the deep, dark ditches on either side of the road and “git” us.
“And when we “git” to the bus stop, may the bus be on time, so we are not out there vulnerable any longer than we have to be.
“And may our sister bring us candy from the candy store at which she works.
“And if she does, may it be the sweeter, better tasting milk chocolate kind.
“And not that awful dark chocolate candy.”
And so the prayer would conclude with a trio of “Amens.”
Prayer said – and with the resultant encouragement of nerve and verve and knowing Dear Jesus would be with them and they would be safe under His constant, protective care – the three would be ready to step to the dark country road, begin the sometimes spooky journey to the bus stop.
To meet and walk the working sister safely home.
Wait a minute, one brother would say.
He would step to the edge of the front porch, reach down, grab a heavy, rusty pipe wrench he kept there and shove it into his back pocket.
Just part of an on-the-road safety backup plan.
Just in case Dear Jesus might be busy.
Roger Summers is a journalist, essayist and author.
Please click the book cover image to read more about the poignant and heartwarming short story collection of Roger Summers in Heart Songs From A Washboard Road.