Helen Peterson – March to Sunday School in March


February can bring even the most faithful to the brink of suicide. But now, it’s the yellow team versus the purple; there is no good versus evil here. The congregation knows there are others who spread hate and death in Jesus’ name, but they will put their tithes and their time into another year of spreading love and life instead. Bible drills (swords up!) the rush of knowing something useful, where a lesser prophet falls between Psalms and Malachi. Extra points if you bring a friend, a Bible, or canned food for the shelter downtown. Marcia feeds on the frenetic energy, as third graders write out thank you notes to soldiers and firemen with glittery pink pens, and the youth pastor challenges the head deacon to a little game of one on one in the gym. It’s a little man-made sunshine while spring unfolds the pages between grey sky and blue, brown earth to green.

She needs it, she needs these people she left for college, where the world sucked the life out of her faith. She’s come back now to pry a little bit back, tying a purple scarf around her neck, applying the least trampy shade of red her makeup kit has to offer to her lips. It’s possible the youth pastor may like her, just a little. Her mother keeps hinting this might be so.

Folks that have been huddling around their woodstoves for months are jumping up, hollering Bible verses they memorized fifty years ago in youth group, artificial hips forgotten, goofy hat their wives whipped up last night slipping from their hairless scalps. Food stamp moms grown tired of canned veggies and longing for farmers’ markets make macaroni poster art with their young’uns, dressed in the best team colors Wal-mart and the Goodwill had to offer. As Marcia sings the hymns and claps her hands, the spirit comes alive like an orange flame somewhere deep below the surface.