Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Religion and Bird Series Part IV (inspired by Chris's Blog)

So here's my story. I was twelve. This means that I had graduated from Primary and sixth grade and was now in Sunday school (with boys lol !!1!) and in middle school. This story has to do with Sunday school, but I brought up middle school in order to remind you of that time and all the awkwardness it involved. That is the social climate in which this story takes place.

Anyway our Sunday school teacher was a quiet, determined woman we had already made cry once that year. She planned her lessons with great dedication and read them out to us in a whispery voice. It was hard to hear her and people soon began talking to each other. I don't think we meant to be rude so much as we were clueless. Anyway, one day she left the room crying and we were all pretty mystified (but not overly mystified because it turns out because this happened in a bunch of my primary/Sunday school classes growing up. Is that weird? I never thought about it before. Has this happened to a lot of people or was my class just really bad?). After that we tried to be a bit more attentive but I don't know that we always did a good job.

A girl moved into our ward that year. I don't remember name. It was something a little bit different like Mellessa or Machelle. She was really really skinny with a pointy face. She always wore long, old fashioned dresses with big collars; I think her mom made them for her. The thing I noticed about her right away was her super long, tangly hair. It was long enough that you know she thought it was very beautiful but also tangly and gross in the way only little girl hair can be.

I was kind of intrigued by her Girl of the Limberlost appearance and introduced myself to her. But I never had a satisfying conversation with her. She talked in a mythical, breathy type way that left me wondering if she thought she was some kind of woodland fairy.

She was home schooled, so we only saw her at church. She was definitely a loner, but not in a way anyone should pity. Despite our apparent ruthlessness to teachers, the girls in our class were very nice and frequently tried to include her. She was always polite and kind in return but distracted, sometimes stopping in the middle of conversations to look into the distance.

One day we were all sitting in class. Our teacher's husband had come in and given us a lecture on respect and not making his wife cry so we were all trying to be good (good=quiet). Our teacher, after speaking for a long time asked a question. "Have any of you ever had an experience where you prayed and your prayers were answered?" If ever there was a class not in a mood to answer personal questions about prayer it was us. The air was still tense with her husbands tirade. None of us had anything to say.

Then the long haired girl raised her hand. Quietly but excitedly she said, "When I was little I used to really want a bird to come and fly and land on my hand. I didn't want to catch it or anything, I just wanted to have it on my hand for a little bit. So I prayed that it would happen. I prayed really hard for days and days, maybe two weeks. And then one day, I just knew it would happen. So I walked over to the window and stretched out my hand like this" She lifted her hand and cupped it slightly "And a bird flew in and landed right on my hand. It stayed for a couple of minutes then it flew off. It was so nice."

We all stared at her. The teacher said something like, "Thanks for your example. Yes, prayer is important and..." The lesson was soon over and everyone acted like it never happened. Her family moved out of the ward soon after that---I don't think they stayed longer than a month total.

I thought about that story all the time. It was so weird and not weird. What kid does not think it would be cool to have a bird just land on their hand? That would be so cool! But it doesn't happen, and no one prays for that kind of thing. That's weird. Mostly I wondered if I prayed for that, would it happen? But I never tried.

Years later, after my mission, I was talking to a boy from my old Sunday school class. I said , "Hey, do you remember that girl with he long tangly hair who told us one day that she prayed--"
He interrupted me, "Yes! The one who prayed for a bird to land on her hand and then it did! I still think about that sometimes."

Right before I graduated BYU I was walking down the JFSB halls and I SAW her. The same long homemade dress and long tangly hair. I passed her in the hall, wondering if it could really be her, and if so what a crazy world. Then I ran back, grabbed her arm, and asked her if she had ever lived in McLean, Virginia. She said yes.

I suddenly got very excited. I told her I remembered her. I told her about the bird story. I told her that I thought about it still.

She smiled. She said she still thinks about it all the time too. Then she looked off into the distance and kind of wandered off.

That's my bird story.


Bridget said...

My Sunday School class made our teachers cry, too! Looking back, I think they were all just wusses. Seriously. Jeremy once taught a class of twelve 13-year-old boys in American Fork. I think they had run out all their other teachers because Jeremy was the first one who actually stayed for more than a few weeks. But you know what? You just have to be tough and not take things personally. Sheesh. Also, it doesn't help if you teach in a whispery voice.

What a funny story.

Bridget said...

Also, is it OK if I switch my following allegiance from Soaps to this blog? I hope so, because I already did.

Lisa Lou said...

She a real life Stargirl!
I hope it wasn't a pigeon.

Nathan said...

Freshman year, we were really bad to our seminary teacher. We made her cry a lot.

Sarah Louise said...

Halfway through this post, I realized that I KNEW this story and remembered that I loved it so much--all in one moment--that I involuntarily said "Oh!" outloud. Like that. Oh!

I read it all the way through.

I can't believe you saw her again at BYU. I'm going to forget that part. I want her to be an awkward middle schooler with a bird on her hand always. Done.

Katie said...

why am i katie cataan? i really am not obsessed more than bryan or you or chris.

Anonymous said...

I consider, that you are not right. I am assured. I suggest it to discuss. Write to me in PM, we will talk.