With his second VBS* tour successfully behind him, 4 year-old Jack is a mini theologian. Well, not really. He’s mainly enthusiastic, a key characteristic of many religious leaders, and, like any 4 year-old, he’s intensely observing the world around him. This includes religious lawn ornaments.
Circa Tuesday, Anno Domini.
We’re quietly cruising a tree-lined neighborhood, on our way to childcare, when Jack breaks the silence, “DADDY! THAT JESUS’ MOMMY!!”
I hit the brakes, “What? Where?!”
“Right dare! She’s right dare!” I look to my left and there she is, a glowing concrete cast of the Virgin Mother, plainly graceful, on someone’s front lawn.
We take in the moment, convinced that this is no apparition. Jack notices Mary stepping on a snake. I do, too.
“Why Mary stepping on a snake?” He so curious it’s outrageous.
“Well, son, that snake is bad, so she’s making sure no one gets hurt.”
“Oh.” We’re still stopped in the middle of the road, discussing religious symbolism.
“But that’s no average snake Jack–that’s a Black Mamba!” I have no idea what I’m talking about.
“Whaaaaat–go Daddy!” He’s smiling, excited and scared at the same time.
I tease out our religious dialogue by probing, “If that’s Jesus’ Mom, where’s his Dad?”
Suddenly stoic, “He’s God, in Heaven.”
“You mean Jesus’ Dad isn’t Joseph?”
Definitively, “No. He not around.”
“Not around? Like… Joseph was deadbeat Dad?” I’m a terrible parent.
“What a deadbeat Dad?”
Singing terribly off-key, “Joseph was a rolling stone, wherever he laid his hat was his home… And when he died! All he left us was alone, alone, alone.”
“Silly Daddy!” He knows me all too well. We head over to childcare, undoubtedly enlightened by our sighting.
And now for the real thing, a true gem, from those symbolic snakes themselves, The Temptations: Poppa Was a Rollin’ Stone (1971).
For those interested in penance/self-punishment, you can read about Jack’s first Vacation Bible School tour here.