The blind and the lame approached him in the temple area, and he cured them. When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wondrous things he was doing, and the children crying out in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant and said to him, “Do you hear what they are saying?” Jesus said to them, “Yes; and have you never read the text, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nurslings you have brought forth praise’?” And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany, and there he spent the night. (Matthew 21:14-17 NABRE)
The events in Charlottesville, VA and the response out of the Oval Office have left me feeling angry, helpless, and emotionally fraught. It’s hard to get work done, and I’m snippy and less compassionate than those close to me deserve. I woke up this morning hoping I could shake it off and buckle down to the job of trying to make the world a better place, but not having a lot of confidence in my ability to make a difference.
Then came a private Facebook message from a woman named Judy who bought my book Rumplepimple for her grand children. Some months ago she sent video of the kids reading it, and she’s kept in touch since then. We accidentally sent her an extra copy of the book recently, and she’d planned to send it back.
Here’s what the message said:
I haven't taken the extra book to post. Rayland says he NEEDS it! After what he told me, I agree! It is so touching, I have to share it with you and Diane. You changed a little boy's life!
As I was leaving for the post office Thursday morning, Melvonna [Judy’s daughter] called. They had dropped Olivia off for her first day of second grade and I could hear Rayland crying in the background. When he asked to talk to me, I told him I had to go to the post office to mail back the extra Rumplepimple book and do some other things.
He said, "MiMi you can't send it back!! I NEED it! Please!"
When I asked why since he and Olivia had one, he said, "MiMi, I need it real bad! If Mommy finds me a school I need to take Rumplepimple to school with me. There may be a kid there like my buddy Zach. When the other kids teased Zack cause he has two Daddies he cried and said nobody liked him. MiMi I like Zack, he's my friend. I told him that Rumplepimple has two Mommies and everyone loves Rumplepimple. He stopped crying so we could play."
With tears, I told him how proud I was of him for taking care of his friend and I would get him his own book. When I asked Mel about the Zach incident, she said it happened at Bible school. The next day, Rayland insisted Mel take her tablet so Olivia could read the electronic version to his class. At first his Sunday school teacher said no. Apparently Rayland was very insistent with her too. Once Olivia finished the story, Rayland was allowed to tell the class why he wanted them to hear about Rumplepimple. He told them Jesus loves all of us and we have to be nice to each other. He told the boys who teased Zach they made Baby Jesus cry because his family was different than other kids. The following Sunday school lesson was about unconditional love, regardless of differences.
Rumplepimple is a simple story about a naughty terrier running into a grocery store to stop a bully from picking on a little girl. It won’t make the annals of great literature, or sell millions of copies. It isn’t a “message book” about same-sex relationships. But my goal in telling the story the way I did bore fruit through four-year-old Rayland last week. I wanted simply to show a family structure in which both parents are women. Whether neo-Nazis, the KKK, the alt-right, or modern day Pharisees like it, same-sex marriage is the law of the land, and kids recognize that it shouldn’t be something that other kids make fun of.
As President Obama reminded us in his record-breaking tweet, unless they are taught hate, kids recognize that love is love.
Today the life of Heather Heyer was celebrated; a woman who heroically took a stand against hate groups and was murdered for it.
Today I learned about Rayland, a boy who is too young to go to school with his big sister yet still stepped out heroically for his friend Zach, and stepped out in Sunday School when he proclaimed the tears of Jesus over the hate children are taught by adults. Apparently his teachers weren’t indignant like those in the Matthew passage at the top of this post. Instead, they listened, and taught about the beautiful diversity of God’s created humanity the following week.
I am proud of Heather and of Rayland. I am honored that my silly little book gave Rayland a tool for proclaiming love. And I am energized to get Rumplepimple’s next adventure out to the world, along with other books which continue the good fight.
Out of the mouths of babes we hear truth. May we be moved by that truth to keep fighting the darkness.
Suzanne DeWitt Hall is the author of Rumplepimple, a hilarious illustrated story book featuring a misunderstood doggy hero and his two moms. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter, or check out her website.