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Portrait of the Artist as a Lone Tree

Simplicity - a message for the church

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Part VI.

Well, what on earth was I to do?
I took the week off work for thought,
and round the town I wandered far,
until I reached the church, distraught.
A little car was parked outside -
and so, in hopes the room was cool,
without a clue, I went inside,
and met Miss Hargreaves’ Sunday School.

The holidays were here, and she
afforded parents brief escape;
their children painted merrily,
allowed for once to joke and jape.
She volunteered me there and then,
having no time for those who shirk,
and left me with a group of kids
about their gay creative work.

What did I have to offer them?
But seeing how their happy eyes
delighted in their pictures so,
I shook myself. To my surprise,
my car was full of things for them
I used for all-important work;
transparencies and coloured pens,
with which they gaily went beserk.

Miss Hargeaves saw, and went to fetch
an old projector, long forgone;
and oh what joy when ten feet tall
the little children’s pictures shone!
Then silent Matthew left his seat
(who’d never taken any heed)
to find out how the magic worked -
Miss Hargreaves said he couldn’t read.

But where was God in all of this?
I’d lost a day from out of seven
and I had no idea as yet
of how to do the work of heaven.
When school was out, I flopped inside
my car, and seeking peace of mind,
I listened to a worship tape;
then suddenly, my thoughts combined.

Next day, I brought some old CDs
with simple songs that children sang.
They drew what they were hearing, then
announced they were ‘The Jesus Gang’.
A few cheap things, a little time,
rejected stuff from yesteryear,
and patience with their craze to paint,
had built what children held most dear.

But no one sang. I wondered why;
Miss Hargreaves laughed at my distress.
“They don’t know all the words,” she said.
“Give me a pen, you’d make a mess.”
So minutes later, simple songs
of love, and happy children’s play
in praise to God were sung again,
with words on walls in bold display.

But that meant pictures went unseen.
And so to please the happy mob,
I bought my own projector. Well,
I’d use it often on the job.
Thus on the third day, seeds were sown,
with simple songs and pictures tall.
I’d never seen such joy before
afforded by a whitewashed wall.

Miss Hargreaves seemed quite different now.
“Not many men will take the time
to spend on other’s children here –
not even read a nursery rhyme.
The church is closed this Sunday night -
the congregation want to go
to some God-awful conference.
Wouldn’t you rather see a show?”

I gulped. “I promised God that day
to lead a service in his praise.
I’m sorry –“
“—Heather – “
“I’m booked up.
How shall I set this place ablaze?
I haven’t got a single clue
what’s to be done, or where, or when,
and if I don’t achieve this goal,
I don’t know if I’d trust again.”

She laughed; she did that such a lot.
“Haven’t you got a pair of eyes?
Did God say who he sent you to?
Why does it come as such surprise
to care for children? Little ones
that crossed his cold disciples’ gaze
he treasured most, and said to us
that we should imitate their ways.”

The minister arrived to bless
her work. Without my let or leave,
she asked him there and then if we
could use the hall on Sunday eve.
Puzzled that we had no desire
to wallow with his sacred league,
he answered “yes”, then hurried off;
for children caused him great fatigue.

Well, that was that. My course was set;
we asked the children, could they fix
to see their pictures shown with songs
this Sunday afternoon at six?
“Will there be biscuits?” asked a lass
who’d got the concept in her head
that this would be a party. “Yes,
with biscuits,” Heather Hargreaves said.

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