Sunday Best (Appx 1:20 minute read)

“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:10 NIV

Her perfume was beginning to fade and her nail polish was chipped.

“I knew I should have bought the gel polish.  Such an idiot.”

She had a pair of black slacks in the back seat of her car.  She wore them to the office from time to time. Thank God she forgot to bring them into the house.  Anastasia lifted the lever on the left side of the driver’s seat and slid the seat back.  She reached into the back seat and grabbed the pants.  Carefully, she pulled the pants on over her panties and under the shirt that she wore as a dress the night before.  Then she smeared Vaseline on her edges and her lips.

“Good as new.”

God knew her in all her glory.  He knew her weaknesses and strengths.  He knew her better than anyone.  He could heal her broken heart.

“Lord knows it’s jacked up this time.”

She bowed her head slightly as she entered the sanctuary.

“Good morning, Sister Faith.”

Sister Faith gave a nod and a smile.  Sister Faith lifted the intricate fan she was carrying and did a slight wave offering over Anastasia.

“Lord, I know I probably still smell like Caleb.  In fact, I can still feel his fingertips all over my body.  I can smell his breath on my neck.  I spent my tithes and offerings on shrimp and vodka. I’m here, though.  I don’t know if that counts for anything.  I sure hope so. My heart is bruised, valves are broken, and they no longer carry blood.  They carry shame. Father, I’m here in your house.  I’m not in my ‘Sunday Best’ and I’m a work in progress but I’m here.  Please heal me.  Please touch me.”

Just then, she heard the praise and worship leader lift his hands and wail.  He was crying out. When his lips parted, it was like he forced out all the tarnished parts of his soul.  With every sound he uttered, more pain came out.  Then he stood there empty and freed from his sorrow.  He was free. A tear fell clumsily from Anastasia’s right eye.  The tear awkwardly waited on her cheek for company.  She had no more.  Just one.  Just one tear.  It waited in vain, died and left a stain.  She envied him.  She envied his liberation.  When he began to sing, she closed her eyes and felt the warmth of God’s loving arms.

She knew her prayer would be answered.

By: Shaun Liriano

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Buttermilk and Rose Petals (Appx 1:12 min read)

Silhouettes of students with graduate caps in a row on sunset background. Graduation ceremony at university web banner.
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On my morning walk I usually pray, plan and take photos of flowers I see on my path.  I was never a flowers kind of girl.  As I grow older, I love them.  A clean linen tablecloth and fresh flowers on the dining room table is the perfect setting.  On the back patio, I have a few plants but it is my dream to have a beautiful rosebush in my backyard someday.

A gentleman in his 2nd floor window with the curtains wide open just taking in deep breaths. His eyes are focused on nothing in particular. The top of his head is bald.  A tight uneven afro covers the rest of his head.

A woman sits on her bright red, brick front porch. She is reading the newspaper aloud.  There is no one near her. There is no phone in sight.  There are no earbuds in her ears. There is no shame on her face when she sees me, see her, reading to no one. Who is her audience? Does she just enjoy the sound of her own voice? She seems content with her audience of zero.

A man waters his dirt.  There is no grass.  Maybe there are seeds planted under the brown and rocky dirt. Diligently, with a smile on his face, he waters his dirt.

I wave to get the attention of an older black woman.  She is vigorously sweeping the street in front of her home.  There is a large blown up photo of a graduate on her lawn.  He has a royal blue cap and gown on.  There are “Congratulations” balloons tied to her stairs. The SUV crossover vehicle parked in front of her home also has balloons tied to it and a makeshift banner.  As she sweeps, there is a smile fixed on her face. The light she carries is as if this moment is still happening.  I wave, point to the photo and say, “That’s beautiful.  Congratulations!” She is startled.  I have invaded the happiness she thought she was sharing with herself. She replies, “I didn’t do it.  He did it.”  While still in motion and now across the street from her home I said, “You did something.”  Her smile grows two sizes bigger.  “God bless you,” she says.  She takes the leopard print mask from under her chin and covers her mouth.  You can still see the glimmer in her eyes as she sweeps.

By Shaun Liriano