Take a knee

my-diary-1He was the one who pushed me underwater.
All the way under on a Sunday night.

I scribbled it in my diary when I got home.

I was ten years old.
He was forty-something.

He had been at our church for awhile.
His family had shared meals at my mama’s table.
He’d had discussions about the Bible with my daddy.

I and my three best friends would listen to him preach each Sunday morning.
We took notes, sitting on the second or third pew.

I saw him again—Mr. Woods—about three years ago. I didn’t know if he would remember me. We were both in a doctor’s waiting room, he with his tiny, sweet wife.

Mr. Woods, the water. Do you remember the water?

He didn’t remember.
But he smiled anyway, and pretended like he did.

It’s okay. I still remember.

I also remember this: 
Mr. Woods knew how to take a knee when he prayed.

Understand that my little Church of Christ in rural Alabama wasn’t used to such outward shows of worship. We were a stoic people. A little stiff, you might say.

So when Mr. Woods would crumple up that tall body of his and take a bent-knee position, ten-year-old girls noticed. 

We knew Mr. Woods wasn’t just praying. He was really praying, soul and body, laying down his pride and picking up his cross.

On August 19, 1973, when I heard the congregation begin singing the invitation song (probably Just As I Am, but I can’t say for sure), I stepped out into the aisle. And walked towards Mr. Woods at the front.

I told him I wanted him to baptize me, so my sins would be washed away by Jesus’ blood.

So Mr. Woods did.
That big, tall, humble man stepped into the water with me and dunked me all the way under.

I came up clean. I came up happy.
Me, Jesus, and Mr. Woods in the baptistry.

august-1973I saw Mr. Woods again last year. He and Mrs. Woods had come by to visit my father. Daddy was dying. But Mr. Woods didn’t realize that.

Mr-WoodsMr. Woods doesn’t remember much anymore.

Alzheimer’s has hijacked his memories—all those sermons, all those prayers-on-knees, and all those baptisms.

But I know who remembers Mr. Woods. Not just me and many more like me.

The One to whom Mr. Woods bowed his knee remembers him.

God knows Mr. Woods.

And one day God will take him over, all the way over, clear to the other side.

Can’t you see it now? 
Mr. Woods in heaven,
taking a knee.

* * *

I took a knee this morning when I prayed for Mr. Woods.

Who have you taken a knee for lately?

I’m linking with Jennifer, sharing stories from our childhood.


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