- The Lady In The Bubble
When he got to the church he found Sharon sitting in the garden surrounded by some of the kids from the bus ministry. Michelle’s mother had come home and the teenager had found her way back to the little garden to talk some more. Michelle was finding the peace in the little garden beneficial during this time when her sister was so ill. Sharon was sitting cross legged on the stone bench speaking to them as he walked down into the area.
The kids were all very attentive to what she was saying. John was amazed that in another part of town, another situation, these boys and girls might not have been so controlled, in fact, he would not really want to be around them were it were not in this particular setting. But Sharon had their undivided attention. Their eyes met as he moved closer. She started to motion him to her, but he raised a finger to his lips indicating that he wanted her to continue with what she was doing.
She was a vision. All the children’s eyes were fastened to her as she spoke. Her voice was very soft, and lovely. She wasn’t expounding great theological points like a preacher, but rather, putting them forth as a friend and a teacher. As she spoke, John sensed a degree of authority in her voice that commanded the respect of all in the garden, even his.
She was talking directly to one of the boys, “Think of it like this. Satan and God had a dispute. Satan thought that he was as great as God. Now, God knew better, but he loved Satan, just as he loves all of his creatures, the problem was, this particular creature was thinking that he wasn’t a creature at all, but the Creator himself! Now, if you are going to have a discussion, and the discussion be legal, you are going to need a third party. So God made man. As you know Satan tempted man, through woman, and man made the wrong choice. Well, Satan went up to God and told him, ‘See, the man follows me! I win!’ And, do you know what God did? He said, ‘You take the man, you take the woman, you take my world. You win. Because God is just! He allowed us to be lead into temptation, but no Almondo, God never leads you to sin. He never hurts you in any way. You live your own life according to your own will. You make the choices that will direct your life. You make Adam’s choice every day. You do it because God realized that it had not been a fair bargain. Man wasn’t informed. So, God came down himself, and offered us a way to make the choice. And man has been basically deciding for God ever since. Satan knows his time is short. This little game of his is coming to an end, and he knows it.”
“But, if God knows everything, why don’t he just steer us in the right way?”
“He does! Only you don’t listen! He gives you the Mass, scripture, the saints. Only it’s more fun, more cool to run with the wrong crowd, to do all the things that you know God won’t like. And you do it because you think you are in control of it. No! When you sin, sin controls you. Never scratch poison ivy. It just itches more!”
“Yeah, yeah, I know all that, but what I’m asking is, if God knows what’s gonna happen anyway, why does he hold us responsible for what we do. I mean He set it up in the first place. You said yourself, everything was decided from the beginning of the world.”
She looked at John. He leaned against the tree, crossed his arms and smiled. How would she handle this? This was the trick question of all trick questions. It was the one that all preacher’s, and theologians dread, especially coming out of the mouth of a child. Sharon smiled pleasantly letting him roll in glory for a few moments. Then she looked back at the boy.
“Almondo, imagine you were writing a book.”
This brought hoots from the other kids but she raised her hand, and continued. “Now, you would know all of the events that were to take place, wouldn’t you. I mean everything in the book you’d know about because you are writing the book, right?”
The boy answered, “Yeah, I suppose.”
“OK, you develop your characters in your book, and you ‘give them life’ so to speak. Almondo, you know how people react? Certain people. Their personalities lead them this way or that.”
The child nodded.
“And, even though you know, and control everything in this book that you are writing, your characters have their own minds. And you give them reason, and you write you sit back and relax, and they seem to make their own choices at times. Yet you know they make these choices based on the abilities that you gave them. You just record the choices they make, fully aware at any time you could direct their ultimate destiny, in fact you do direct it. You say when they are born, when they will die. You say how many children. You made all of these decisions before the beginning of the book, and yet, they still live in your mind.”
Not a child was moving now. Sharon had their undivided attention. John unfolded his arms and listened as she continued, “Why, you could even put yourself in your book, couldn’t you. Or, you could put your ideas in your book about right and wrong, because it’s your book and you know what will work, and what won’t work in the little book world that you created. You could even put yourself in the book, and set yourself up to be killed because you know the basic natures of the people in the book, And you could ‘die’ and leave the book and come back, if that’s what you chose to do. Isn’t that right?”
They all nodded. “Now, let’s go one step farther. Suppose, just suppose, you could actually bring your characters out of the book. You had the ability that when they died in the book, they came alive in your world, and were in the same space you occupied. Your friends became real and lived with you forever.”
They all nodded and agreed. She looked up and let her eyes meet John’s, “The book is the cosmos, and the writer is the author of life.”
“You could even give your characters visions, couldn’t you Sharon,” one boy asked.
“Yes, if that were the way that you chose to enlighten a character, yes you could give them visions. Have any of you had visions?”
The kids all laughed, and looked nervously at one another. In the drug soaked world of the projects, no one was about to admit that they had seen anything that wasn’t very real, and very solid.
“I have,” a small voice from the back of the garden said.
All eyes turned to Michelle. Normally she wouldn’t talk much in a group, but she felt compelled to talk now. “I’ve seen a vision.”
Sharon’s eyes showed compassion, “Do you want to share it with us, Michelle?”
“Yeah, sure. It was a lady in a bubble.”
The kids laughed, and began to poke fun, but Sharon silenced them with a raised finger, “What did she look like, Michelle?”
The child’s eyes were far away, “She looked like a little ballerina. She was very pretty. She was in a kind of ‘bubble’, but only is wasn’t a bubble, really, it was like one of those little glass globes you see in rich people’s houses. You know. The little glass globes with a flower in it. She was like a little flower.”
Sharon motioned Michelle to her. The girl came over, and sat beside her. They were looking straight into each other’s eyes. “What did she do?”
“Nothing. Well, not nothing really. She was praying, I guess. She came every night for a while. She’d just stand there in that bubble and pray.”
“Did you pray with her?”
“No. I didn’t know what to do. She was a nice lady and all, but it scared me at first.”
“Did anyone else see the ‘Lady of the Bubble?”
“Yeah, Joley, she saw her with me. She got scared the first night and threw a pillow at the lady.”
“And, what did the lady do?”
“She just backhanded the pillow back at us, smiled, and went right back to praying.”
“Do you see her now?”
“No, she left after a while. Things. . . ,” she cut short her statement. Sharon hugged her for a moment. Michelle had tears in her eyes.
“OK kids, enough for today. You need to get to Mass.” They all groaned, but she ‘shood’ them out of the garden. All except Michelle. She held her hand and kept her on the bench as the others left.
“It doesn’t hurt anymore, does it?”
“No,” the teenager answered. “The lady in the bubble made it OK.”
“How’s Joley doing?”
“The same. I told her about the way you said to pray the Rosary. She’s already doing it.” She wiped her eyes.
John felt quite left out of all this, but as a minister he could tell that the girl was in emotional pain over her little sister. “Michelle, would it help to talk about it?”
The Puerto Rican girl looked at him, but not with contempt. She felt older than John right now, even though she was half his age. “No sir. There ain’t no talking will do no good. ‘What is love?’ Love is when you pray to God every day to let you die instead of your little sister. That’s love, sir.”
She hugged Sharon, and ran from the Garden.
John walked over to Sharon and said, “Her little sister is dying?”
“Cancer of the liver.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know. She was so lively this morning. . . ”
“She is a great soul, John. She follows the spirit. Remember, I told you that?”
“Yes, yes you did. Hey, what was all that ‘Lady of the Bubble’ stuff?”
“She’s been molested, John. The ‘Lady in the Bubble’ chased the molester away from her.”
“You know that?”
“Know what, John. That she was molested, or that the lady in the bubble freed her from it?”
“Yeah, John. I know that.”
The Butcher Shop