Lesson one. Seeking Wisdom.
Childhood. A subject I had not thought about in a very long time. And, probably wouldn't have, had I not run across the picture that day. Frankly, I'm surprised I noticed it at all, given my frenzied state. Financial documents of every type littered my living room, all waiting to be searched, sorted and stacked before being transported to the accountant's office. It was an annual task I dreaded, but never more so than that year. That very bad year. That year of bank failures, home foreclosures and disappearing 401K plans. Even without our accountant's final analysis, my husband and I knew our loss out be substantial. I surveyed the mess.
“How will we get through this?” I asked aloud to no one. I sighed heavily. All I really wanted to do was sleep.
It was then that I saw the corner of a photograph peeking out from between two bank statements. I bent over, intending to free it, when I noticed that the two documents were stuck together and the picture was stuck between them. I have always found it perplexing that papers, merely sitting in a cardboard box, can somehow become 'glued' together. But, they were 'glued' all the same, so I slowly peeled them apart, careful not to tear the photo.
Finally, it was free. A 4x4 black-and-white image of two little girls, their arms around each other's shoulders, grinning like idiots into the camera. One girl was considerably larger than the other. I turned it over to the back. A hand-written scribble indicated the year 1969. I turned it back to the front and looked again.
“Good Lord, were you really that chubby?” I asked aloud to no one. I moved a stack of papers from the coffee table and dropped the picture down. I cleared a place for myself on the couch and lay down. My mind was exhausted with worry, my body depressed. I closed my eyes.
I awoke with a start and glanced cautiously around. Safe. No one had noticed that I fell asleep. I wiped the side of my mouth with the back of my hand, just to be sure that I hadn't drooled, and prepared to settle back into semi-slumber when I felt a sharp pinch on my left forearm. I snapped my head around to the offender and found myself eye-to-eye with my older sister, Missy. At 9 years of age she was already terribly bossy.
“I’m telling!” she mouthed the words. Missy dared not speak aloud since whispering in church was an even bigger offense than taking the occasional siesta. I kicked her ankle with my leather Sunday shoe and scooted away. I slid easily on the wooden pew and wondered briefly how many butts had skimmed across that very bench over the years, with all of the Sunday morning services, Sunday evening services, weddings, funerals, etc. But I quickly dismissed the attempt to calculate since, at the ripe old age of 7, I decided that mathematics, of any type, was totally unnecessary in life. I looked straight ahead, ignored her scowls and willed myself to stay awake.
The pastor preached passionately from the pulpit, his voice filled the tiny Baptist church sanctuary, his arms waved above his head.
“Now is the time!” he proclaimed. “Search your heart. Receive Jesus today!” My Daddy. He was WOUND up. I scanned the sanctuary and spotted Mama. She sat on the front row and looked up at Daddy, Bible on her lap. Only recently had she allowed me and Missy to sit by ourselves in church. I preferred to sit in the very back of the church. There, I could draw pictures of horses with flowing mane and tail. My perfect sister, on the other hand, wanted to sit up front 'in case Mother needs us'. What a big suck-up. We compromised and sat in the middle.
The tiny, rural Texas church was uncomfortably hot that Sunday in late October. It was after 12:00 noon and the temperature reached the upper 80's, not uncommon for Texas, even well into the autumn months. All around me older women fanned themselves vigorously, cardboard hand-held fans swished to and fro. It reminded me of windshield wipers on high speed. Occasionally, I caught a whiff of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum mingled with old-lady toilet water.
My Daddy continued his impassioned pleas for lost souls, inspired by the congregation.
“Amen, Amen, Pastor!” said the men in the congregation. They fanned their faces with their hats, the cowboy variety. Actually, the whole congregation was made up of old people, or so it seemed to me.
I tried to focus on Daddy's words, but I was just too bored. I preferred sermons that had stories associated with them. Daniel and the lion’s den was a good one. I visualized it easily and it had a good ending. Noah and the ark was also a favorite. I especially liked my version. In it, the animals loaded onto the ark included two pure white horses. They were, of course, named Snowball I and Snowball II. But my most loved story was when Jesus fed thousands of followers with just a few loaves and fishes. Although, for some reason, whenever I pictured this event, the loaves dripped with garlic and butter and the fishes glistened, golden-brown, from the fat they had just been fried in.
My stomach growled very, very loudly. I cautiously cut my eyes over at my sister to see if she had heard. Yep, no doubt about it. I scooted further away from her, indignant. Did I have any control over my healthy, digestive juices? I thought of Mama’s waiting lunch and willed Daddy to give the altar call. But he was still wrapped up tight in the Holy Spirit, so we wouldn't be going anywhere for a long while.....
Television personality Lisa Mason returns to her journalistic roots to chronicle the way God speaks to us. Combining present-day observations with stories of the past, her tale takes readers on an honest, sometimes heartbreaking, journey.
From witnessing the ravages of HIV on the human body, to accepting an EMMY award, to experiencing the shock of the Oklahoma City bombing, this non-fiction text does not attempt to convert readers to Christianity, nor is it filled with scripture. It does, however, remind readers that to know God, one only has to listen for His Still, Small Voice.
About the author:
Host and writer Lisa Mason was honored with an EMMY award for her PBS documentary "Faces of Aids". Lisa was also given the Society of Professional Journalism Award for her PBS documentary "When Children Kill". Lisa joined QVC as televsion host in 1995 where she remained for 16 years. Lisa is also an accomplished musician and singer.
Book Size: 120 pages
Category/Subject: SELF-HELP / General