The Best Theology Lesson I Ever Learned:
The boys behind me think I cannot hear them. I am sitting in Theology class. They are laughing at the “snow falling outside,” but the comment is directed at me.
It is summer in Florida. Outside, dandelions dance in the breeze. Everything is green beneath a blue sky. It is hot in the classroom, and the air conditioner is broken again. I sweat. I feel itchy. I have Psoriasis. I scratch. More snow falls.
I close my eyes and I am seven sitting in a hot church in the south during catechism. There are no kids here my age, and this makes me happy. The older kids are nice to me because they like my dad. He is funny. He is a magician. He understands them. The younger kids are herded to the nursery to play with toys. I sit with the older kids and hear a story about Jesus. It is hot. I feel itchy. I scratch. Snow falls. No one seems to notice the young kid sitting in the corner. Jesus walks on water. He heals the lepers. They walk away with new skin.
This lesson is easy, but later we sit with the grown-ups and hear a sermon. I hate sermons. I want to see a magic trick.
When I open my eyes, the professor is lecturing. Christology. We write sermons. I imagine a world without lepers. Everyone wears nice soft skin.
We sit on park benches in the sun between classes. I watch the boys gather in a group in front of the classroom door. Debating. Bidding for rank. They will become pastors. They will give sermons.
I hate sermons. I want to see a magic trick.
Even the adults are tired after catechism. We sing a few songs. The sermon begins. Always too long – the sermons, in the south, in the summer, in a room without air.
My dress is made of a horrid material. It digs into my skin. I sweat. I itch. There is medicine now for the lepers. Jesus is bored.
I look out of the church window. Dandelions dance in the breeze. I imagine myself free. I am a fish in the water – the cool brown water. I hide my scales in the dark holes. No one will find me.
After the sermon, I run down to the river. I run down the path along the bank. I strip down naked. My dress is abandoned. The cool mud paints my feet and legs. I jump in the water. A magic trick. Mermaid in hiding.