Sunday, September 28, 2003


Samantha's world is being torn apart. I saw it today when she came into the Sunday school room where I had been recruited as a substitute teacher. There were only three kids, all about Samantha's age, 7 or 8.

I hadn't seen Samantha in several months because our little church doesn't have Sunday school over the summer, and her Dad only comes to church to bring her to Sunday school. The last time I saw her, she was wide eyed, talkative, and cheerful. Today she seemed more unsure of herself and reserved.
They were late, her father said he always has trouble remembering when Sunday school starts. Being late, the small class, and not having been in church for months, all contributed to the awkward feelings I'm sure Samantha was experiencing.

There are other factors. Her dad has had a long series of problems. Her parents are divorcing.

It took a while, but I finally got Samantha to open up a little. She began to talk, and giggled a few times when I did something silly (everyone has their own teaching methods).

Still it didn't take long for me to notice something new in Samantha.


It's a trait I am intimately familiar with, more so than I would like. I see it everyday in the people I work with, the world at large, and too often when I look in the mirror.

It's not a trait I see frequently in children. In one so young it stuns. I was repelled by its familiarity. It may be the confidante of the world at large, and I'm certainly not immune to my own jaded moments, but in Sunday children's Sunday school... it hit me like the first sight of blood oozing from a gaping wound. I wanted to bandage it; to stem the flow; to prevent this cancer from spreading.

Today's lesson was on the 10 commandments, but we were only covering the first four. Next week, the regular Sunday school teacher will take up where I left off.

Before class ended though, I briefly mentioned the fifth commandment: "Honor thy Father and thy Mother."

Without hesitation Samantha said, "Not my father."

I pushed her for only a moment and told her she didn't mean that. She disagreed with me, and I realized this was not the time or place, in front of other children, for her to bleed this misery .

I felt wounded too. It cut like a knife.

Samantha's little heart has hardened since I saw her last.

I pray Samantha keeps coming to Sunday school.

I pray some lessons can be unlearned.