A tattered, torn piece of faith

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 29, 2007

The soggy piece of paper was a sorrowful sight when I came upon it last Friday.

Laying in a puddle of warm rain by the employee entrance of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald office was a sheet of paper. “John 3:16 Shows God’s Love” it said, scribbled in child-like crayon writing. A large, broad nearly perfect purple heart was drawn around “God’s Love.”

I hesitated while deciding whether or not to pick up the paper.

Reluctantly I scooped it up thinking one of my co-workers might hold the key to artist’s identity. I was surprised at how robust the paper was as it hardly tore during the journey from the back door to my desk.

As I struggled to open the locked back door, juggling keys, purse, camera, camera flash and lunch, the paper slipped through my fingers crumpling on the floor.

I thought for sure the paper had ripped it in half, but no, when I picked it up it was still whole.

It left a trail of water all the way to my area in the office.

Laying the artwork on the edge of my trash can under my desk I set about my work. It was deadline day at the office I had a few stories to write and a column as well.

I forgot about the picture until near mid-day when I finally pried myself away from the computer screen and my desk chair.


My foot caught the edge of the trash can and sending it along with the paper tumbling to the floor.

I noticed the artwork was now dry, so I set about trying to find out whose child it belonged to.

Taking a good look at the wrinkled paper I noticed it had a few dirt stains and a slight rip at the top, but I thought it to be still salvageable.

I walked around the office asking various co-workers if they knew the artist. None of them did. It was suggested it might belong to one of the employees that works the second shift in the press room.

With this suggestion in mind, I thought of hanging the artwork on the bulletin board in the back break room.

Folding up the paper I placed it in my pocket. I thought I might tack it up later as I still had work to do.

But of course this was a big mistake because it was soon forgotten about.

I didn’t notice the rectangular piece of paper until I was home, content on relaxing and making dinner.

That’s when I pulled it from my pocket and sat down on my futon. I slowly unfolded it and looked over the artwork again…this time a little closer.

It had been a long time since I had taught Bible school and even longer since I had attended it. I could not remember what John 3:16 said.

I set about Googling and up it came: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

The verse is often referred to as “the Bible in a nutshell” and is quoted quite often.

It’s the verse that’s been mocked on television shows like “Futurama&uot; and WWE wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin and paraded around by Rainbow man at sporting events.

It’s even printed on the bottom of each In-N-Out Burger beverage cup.

And now here it was on a child’s art work. It was created just like any child who had faith.

Care, purpose and blind conviction had been put into the art work. To many it may have looked like a simple drawing, but for the child it was like producing the Sistine Chapel.

I thought about the way I came to find the drawing. Of all the people who walked through the door I was the only one to pick it up.

I used to believe in signs when I was younger and in someway I still do.

It can be the simplest sign that will remind me of a person that has passed on or even the important things in life.

In fact each time I see a mourning dove I believe it’s my grandfather’s way of sending a “hello.”

And perhaps a child’s artwork laying in a puddle on a soggy Friday reminds me to have a little faith.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: amanda.vanderbroek@r-cnews.com or call (252) 332-7209.