Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: NEIGHBOR (06/01/17)
- TITLE: Sticks and Stones
By Phillip Cimei
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The members gasped. Bewildered heads turned seeking mutual affirmation of this crude, unacceptable act. Noses wrinkled. The “Eeeaaww’s” ceased when he stopped, paused for a second with his I got you going now look, and asked, “Have you ever eaten boogers?”
Whispers, proceeded by raised eyebrows and audible gags, questioned, “Has he gone off the deep end?”
Dave relished the moment donning a Cheshire cat grin. A shout from the back, from little Jimmy, interrupted his performance, “Billy has, I saw him eat a booger.”
“Did not, did not” denied Billy.
Dave clapped his hands, “Thank you Jimmy, you have just labeled Billy for life.”
Appalled, the members started whispering again. Prudish sister Ethel mumbled, “I can’t believe the preacher would pull such a prank. How childish is that? And embarrassing that poor child.”
Dave folded his arms across his chest mimicking what the members started doing, “Don’t give me that look.” A dubious frown appeared, followed by a roaring laugh.
“Every one of you have eaten boogers. Yep, you have. Remember that last nasty cold you had, sinus infection, or allergy. That slimy glob of mucus—called snot—stuck in the middle of your throat. You couldn’t hack it up, spit it out, or blow it out your nose. Where did it eventually go after that vacuum sucking snort? Down your throat. You just ate a fetal booger—not a fully developed dried booger.”
He now will drive home his labeling point. Of course, in a childish manner.
With hands on hips and pooched out lips he said, “’Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.’ Whoever dreamed up that saying never met Diane Murphy. Labels build walls and devastate the spirit.”
He explained, “Diane was the Pariah, the Leper of my school. From fifth grade through the eighth grade, all the boys called her Booger Murphy. They said she ate boogers. Hence, the label. She was ostracized. No boy ever talked to her, played with her, sat next to her, and certainly didn’t touch her. They had rules.”
“’Eewww, you touched Booger Murphy,’ they would razz you. Then attack Diane by slinging humiliating and demoralizing words, ‘Booger eater, snot sucker,’ and many more. Labels destroyed her spirit.”
His face tightened, “Labels are walls. Walls that prevent community, and demoralize our neighbor.” He went on to remind them about last Sunday’s sermon on The Good Samaritan and how today was a follow up.
“The Samaritan wasn’t supposed to help. That is why Jesus had to put Good in front of it. But the Samaritan wasn’t like the Levit and Priest. The injured traveler had a label. His label should have prompted hate, ostracizing, and avoidance. But, the Samaritan didn’t see a label.” Dave explained why we shouldn’t see a label either.
“Jesus made sure he represented all mankind. He called him a certain man. Jesus was letting us know neighbors don’t have labels, or have names. And who is our neighbor? What color is our neighbor and where does he live?” Dave walked down the aisle.
“Miesha, let’s see. You are African American…no…black…or is it… Negro…no that’s…just what are you Miesha? What color are you? What label did your neighbor put on you? Testify Miesha.”
“I’m the color of that certain man. Praise the Lord. It’s the color called neighbor.”
Now, they were dancing in the aisles.
“Jose’, you come from, Mexico. They want to build a wall to keep your kind out, don’t they? Brick walls. And it’s the hatred, greed, and ignorance that build those other walls called labels. They reject and shut-out one’s neighbor.”
“Amens” flowed. “Thank you, Jesus” was shouted.
Dave encouraged all to leave there and not build walls by labeling, but love their neighbor as themselves.
He stood at the entrance after services. After everyone left, a look of bewilderment creased his brow. He turned to his wife and asked,” I thought that was a powerful message dear, didn’t you?
“Yes dear, as always.”
“Then why did everyone avoid shaking my hand?”
“Remember sticking your finger in your nose,”
“Oh yeah, I hope they don’t label me sticky fingers Dave!”
Added author comment:
Parts of this are non-fiction. As a child, I did know a little girl that was labeled as mentioned. Names were changed to prevent embarrassment. I only wish I had acted out the part of the preacher in one of my sermons. One day I may.
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