“Once when Talitha and I were walking to church early one Sunday morning, an event occurred that destroyed the steadfast goodness of this world no less than did the thickest darkness in Egypt or the noonday night on the Lord’s final day. Ahead of us, down Gum Street, we began to hear a hoarse roaring. By the tone of the noise, I thought it was an angry man. We were passing a row of “shotgun houses”—three rooms in a dead straight line, the front doors opening directly upon a narrow sidewalk that ran into the wider front walk along the street.
Almost as soon as I decided which house contained such anger, its door burst open and a young boy blew out backward…and landed sitting facing the house. Immediately a woman appeared screaming at the boy a most vile name. Not a man at all, this was his mother. She pointed at him and in a low snarl, said, ‘Do me a favor and die!’ She vanished inside. The boy didn’t move. Talitha approached him with soft feet. She said, ‘Do you want to come with us?’ The boy looked at her. His face twisted like a dishrag being wrung and he hissed out the same vile name his mother has used. He stood up and pointed his finger and said, ‘Do me and favor and die!’
My daughter didn’t cry that day. But she crept close to me and took my hand (at an age when independence was all she desired) and I knew that she was stunned beyond tears. That evening I sat beside her bed and told her, her story:
And God said, I’m going to make a child and I will love my child…(in Talitha’s story God makes the firmament as a hard, blue dome to protect the child from every wild thing which like wild waters might befall her. God raises dry land from the endless waters below and the firmament above in order to grant his child a place in the world. God causes a rich, abundant vegetation for her food. God creates birds and fish and beasts as her companions with eyes and voices even as the child shall have. And then God turns full attention to the precious sculpting of this single most beautiful being, the child herself. And God kissed you, Talitha—do you remember? God leaned low and kissed you and breathed air into you little balloon lungs. Surely you remember—because with your own first breath you sneezed in the face of God. And then you thought you heard thunder. But it wasn’t. It was a great and holy laughter.”
Wangerin completes Talitha’s story, “My daughter has grown up and is quite sure of herself. She no longer needs her story; therefore, I am free to share it with many children. Let it be your story, for the consolation of your own heart. Or your children’s or your grandchild’s or godchild’s…for where in all the world is the one whom the good Lord does not love?”
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So powerful. Thank you.