Sep 142010

by Gale Acuff

In Sunday School this morning we learned that

if you have a hundred sheep and just one

wanders off it’s a good thing to go

find it and fetch it back and put it with

the other 99. I raise my hand

and ask Miss Hooker who’s looking after

the 99 while I go hunt the one

who wandered off. She takes off her glasses

and sort of pinches the top of her nose, I

mean the bridge, I guess it is, that holds them

in place, otherwise your glasses would slide

off your face or just dangle near your mouth

while hooked around your ears, like hers I mean,

though I’ve seen some glasses where the ends don’t

curve around the ears to hold them on but

are just straight and in that case you’d lose them

–they’d fall right at your feet and shatter and

if your eyesight’s really bad then you might

accidentally step on them trying

to find them. Then she puts them back on and

says, Well, Gale, you’d have another shepherd

watch the 99 for you while you’re off

locating the one who wandered away.

Then she smiles. Oh, I say–well, there’s nothing

in this story about that. Parable,

she corrects me–it’s a parable. Oh,

I say. Well, isn’t that a kind of story?

Yes, she says. But you’ve just learned a new word.

Oh, I say. Tell us what the story means,

she says. Yes ma’am, I say. One sheep’s as good

as 99. Is that right? Well, she says,

in a manner of speaking, yes. Uh huh,

I say. I try again. Sheep don’t grow on

trees, I say, so don’t let them go to waste.

Well, she says, you may have a point. I reach

up to my cowlick but it’s still down flat

(Father’s Brylcreem–a little dab’ll do ya).

Then it’s time for the Lord’s Prayer. We bow

our heads and close our eyes but I peek–I

may get a glimpse of a lost sheep but all

I see is Miss Hooker with her legs crossed

and her glasses on the desk beside her.

She’s really beginning to get to me.