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Caught Purple-handed

Khaki-Colored Uniforms! Brown Shoes! Brown Belts! And, oh yeah! And, Little Purple Clip-On Ties! School Uniforms! I wore one; so did all of the other boys!

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I was raised in a very religious home. My parents were faithful in their religious obligations in raising their children. Because of their faithfulness, I received a strong religious education in both elementary and high school. It seemed like we were always receiving religious instruction, whether we were studying mathematics, geography, or history. Everything was correlated to God.

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Like the other boys and girls in our school, I attended church every school day. Sometimes, I felt pushed...even so, I was always faithful in my attendance at church and tried to be a "good boy" as best as I was able.

A "good boy"??? As best as I was able??? Sometimes, I guess it’s safe to admit it now, sometimes I wasn’t very “able” – or at least that’s the way it seems! Memory, you know, shapes and colors our understanding and interpretation of such things.

Memory? Thinking about 2nd grade. I was in the school yard, decked out in my Khaki-colored school uniform. I wasn’t very “able” and I wasn’t being “a good boy!” I was teasing and taunting another boy – when – in the heat of battle I reached toward him, grabbed, then yanked his clip-on purple tie – then I threw it as high in the sky as I could. And, what to my dismay, the tie went up, up, up, then on the way down, it landed over the school yard fence in the backyard of a neighboring house!

“I’m going tell teacher,” the boy shouted! “I’m going tell teacher!”

Thump! Thump! Thump! My heart raced! Fear! Guilt! Shame! Quick as a whip I climbed over the old New Orleans style wooden fence to retrieve the kid’s tie. (I say “New Orleans style wooden fence because there is a distinction. This wooden fence was made of long 16” board that ran sideways, with each board running 12’ – 16’ feet – and stained with a blue, red, brown and purple stain!)

Just as I located the kid’s purple tie two of the biggest, loudest dogs I’d ever seen appeared out of nowhere – growling and chasing after me! Quick as a lick I climbed back over the fence – and threw the kid’s purple tie as far away from me in the school yard!

“Did you take this boy’s tie, Johnny? Did you take his tie!”

The moment of decision had come! All of my religious education was suddenly on trial! All of the spiritual investments that had been made – by my teachers, by my mom, by my dad – this was the moment of decision!

“Did you take this boy’s tie, Johnny? Did you take his tie!”

“NOPE,” says I, as I gave my best ‘I’m innocent face!’ “NOPE!”

The first line of old English poetry I encountered in college had a line that in substance said, “Of all the gifts God gives us, Oh! That we might see ourselves as others see us!”

What the teacher and everyone else saw that day was a little boy whose school uniform was completely smeared with blue, red, brown and purple stain!

“Look at your hands, Johnny. Look at your hands!”

My hands were purple – stained with purple!

Thump! Thump! Thump! My heart raced! Fear! Guilt! Shame!

Fear! I was caught purple handed! Guilt! Over what I had done! I told a lie! I did throw that boys tie over the fence. Shame! Over what I had become! A liar!

And, the greatest tragedy of all – everyone knew! The other kids! Teacher! Principal! Mom! Dad! AND, GOD! Yipes!

The Bible says, “….be sure your sin will find you out!” – Numbers 32:23 Enough Said!

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