Friday, April 17, 2009

Little Big Foot: I'll Fly Away

The Reverend Dee Anna Hanson is alive and well, so to speak. If you would like to read the previous Little Big Foot chapters, click the link "Stories: Little Big Foot" at the bottom of this post and then scroll to the bottom of the page to read from the beginning.

Dee Anna closed her eyes and silently prayed for calm. She wondered what she would say when she answered the phone. She tried to form her thoughts into words but found she couldn't' complete a sentence that made any sense. She told herself she was just tired from two nights of inadequate sleep and wished she had awakened early enough to spend some time in prayer before her groggy breakfast with Madeline and Mrs. Herndon. Well, she'd spend some time reading a devotional page from Oswald Chamber's "My Utmost for His Highest" when she finished the phone conversation.

She heard faint whistling coming from outside the stained glass window that graced the rear wall of her office, an odd feature, but one she loved. She smiled, picturing the sparkle of sun on the wet grass, and the the whistling black man dressed in jeans kneeling to groom the already nearly flawless flower beds. What was the tune Leroy was whistling? She rose and moved to the window to listen. That's actually pretty good whistling, she thought, smiling again, and then Dee Anna realized that she knew exactly what song she was hearing. It was "I'll Fly Away." She had not heard that song in a long time, maybe not since she had left her position as a children's pastor at the church in Lubbock. And certainly never at Eastside Church.

Her thoughts traveled, without her permission, to a small brick house that sat back from a Texas state highway. The smell of sausage filled the house, and she was sitting at a wooden kitchen table. Her feet, shod in white socks and black patent leather shoes, were hooked around the front rung of her chair. Her older brother, Phil, stood by the back door, dressed in dress pants and a white Sunday shirt. She could sense the tense atmosphere without knowing what it was.

Her father's voice came from the porch, practicing the song he would sing later at church "I'll fly away, oh glory, I'll fly away, When I die, Hallelujah, bye and bye..." and her mother came in to the kitchen from the hallway, twisting her red hair into a bun as she moved to the table. Mother never needed a mirror to twist her thick hair into a neat knot at the nape of her neck; she always did it perfectly even though her movements were quick. She did it the same way every morning. Dee Anna recalled her mother's frown as she gazed down at her daughter.

"Come on, you're going to make us late again, Dee Anna. Always daydreaming and poking. What did I do to deserve such a poky child?" Her heels clacked on the kitchen tile as she crossed the room to stand by Phil. "Good Lord, when are you going to get a haircut? I am embarrassed to be seen at church with you looking like a hippie. And what time did you finally decide to come home last night?"

Phil, wordless, moved aside as his mother shouted through the screen door, "Come on, Bud! I've got to get to Sunday School early. I'm settin' out the new quarterlies for the adult class." It had been a late spring day and the Texas sun was already hot even though it was only about 8 a.m. Still the child Dee Anna had felt chilled. Whenever Dee Anna thought about those days, she never recalled the house as being warm.

She realized that Leroy's whistle had stopped and she frowned as she returned to her office chair, rubbing her arms slightly. She felt mildly annoyed that she was spoiling a perfectly good morning by thinking about that unpleasant Sunday. She was sure tired...

Her father had continued singing as he stepped into the kitchen, "Just a few more weary days and then..."

Weary days. Oh yeah, that was for sure.


The phone on the desk rang, startling Dee Anna back to the present. She took a deep breath and sat up straight. She knew the caller would be her friend, Brother Young, a former professor from Bible college. He had seen her with Michael at an interdenominational World Day of Prayer service. As their eyes met, both of them had recognized the other, surprised to find a familiar face in Madison, Wisconsin.

Getting reacquainted over lunch after the meeting, they had quickly regained a sort of older mentor to younger student kind of rapport. Dee Anna had found it oddly comforting. As for Michael, he had liked the older man immediately. By the end of lunch they were making plans to get together and soon the three of them had became friends.


She picked up the phone. "Good Morning, Eastside Church, this is Rev. Dee Anna Hanson." As expected, she heard the familiar Texas accent in her ear. Somehow, even though Brother Young had been away from Texas for over a decade, he still sounded more like a Texas cowboy than a well-respected church leader in Wisconsin.

"Hey, girl, nine o' clock and here I am. How was it in Little Big Foot? I figure I'll hear somethin' from them later today but I wanted to talk with you first, like we said. You loved it, didn't you?"

Dee Anna was surprised by the sudden tears that pooled in the corners of her eyes.

"Yes. I'm so scared to say it, but...oh man...yes. I did. I hated it too, Brother Young, in a way. It started out just awful, and even before the Sunday service I had decided I'd been foolish to even go up there. I was a little upset with you, actually." She continued rapidly, somehow knowing she couldn' t pause, "But something so strange but good happened. I think maybe it was God, and it was wonderful to sense the presence of the Spirit with me and...and...I think I might end up there."

What on earth? What was she saying? As the words tumbled out, she knew that she wanted them to be true.

"But God," she thought, as she heard Brother Young's chuckle, "I love Eastside. I love Madison. I love dear old Southern Baptist Leroy and his flowers and his whistling."


Gilly said...

My,am I glad Dee Anna is back! I thought we would never know what happens! ;)

Auntie Knickers said...

Well, I sort of saw this coming, but I'm so happy to read it and be sure! Thanks!