The Holy Hill of Faithfuless

This week my Bible reading plan took me to Psalm 15, which took me back 43 years.

The little girl’s name was Sooner, because she was born too soon after her parent’s wedding date. Pawned off, she was raised in squalor and treated like a slave. Her only friendship was with a wild bird she rescued and nursed to health. It wasn’t clear whether the bird couldn’t fly or whether it wouldn’t, only that it never did. It followed the child with the careless trust of having known nothing from her but kindness.

When Sooner was rescued by a young childless couple, the bird came with her. All cleaned up, Sooner went nervously to school and made her first human friends. When they came to visit her at home, they saw the bird hopping after her wherever she went. She told them it never flew because it didn’t want to. They set out to prove her wrong.

They stomped at it. When it didn’t fly away, they picked up stones and began throwing them. Sooner watched, eyes wide, silent. Then she stooped, took up a pebble and joined them. When the frenzy was over, the bird was dead, and so was Sooner’s innocence.

A Girl Named Sooner was a 1975 made-for-television movie. I saw it only once, and I still choke back tears when I remember that scene.

Age 11, I was the bird, frightened and uncomprehending. What is happening? Why doesn’t she stop them? What is she doing? I love her. I knew the bewildered sting of suddenly becoming the focus of the malicious attention of children I thought were my friends.

Two years later, I had my one brief taste of popularity, a breath of power. With it I pulled a prank, together with my little in-crowd, on a girl in our class, an awkward, uncomprehending girl who had once been my friend. It ended more cruelly than any of us intended. I saw the pain of innocence in her eyes, and like Sooner, my innocence was dead.

In the decades that followed the guilt and pain of betraying and being betrayed piled up into a high and unholy hill.

Psalm 15 is a song of hope. It calls us to a different hill, to the holy mountain of God’s faithful love, where we are covered with the innocence of Christ and where we learn to faithfully cover one another.

(This article was originally published at www.chicogb.com.)

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