Picnic to Rally
Image from http://clipart-library.com/
Good not-Monday, not-Tuesday, but Wednesday! I try not to have my blog posts late, but in the age of COVID, my life, and all of our lives, can get a bit topsy-turvy. In my case, because I am still employed, the demands of dis-located ministry are challenging. We are rethinking and redoing everything. So sometimes blogging about my side-vocation, as well as the writing and the research that goes with it, needs to take a backseat.
Today, I thought I’d put up something I’m working on for the next Saint Maggie full-length novel. When we left off last time, at the end of A Good Community, Maggie had successfully addressed the town’s people after the disastrous fire of 1864 and forged a sort of consensus among about two-thirds of them. This led friends and family to suggest that she run for town council, something the self-effacing former boarding house owner struggles with.
Apparently, she decided to run for office.
In this segment, we are a few months away from the end of A Good Community. Over half of the houses destroyed by the fire have been rebuilt. Encouraged by the progress, Maggie decides to host an impromptu celebration at Greybeal House. What she gets is many more than the crew at the one house where she had served noon dinner. She ends up with sort of the 19th-century equivalent of high schoolers finding out there’s a kegger at some kid’s house, only more polite and less drunk.
Once again, Maggie is asked to speak and… well, enough description. Here’s the excerpt.
“Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen,” a baritone voice suddenly boomed.
The buzz of the crowd decreased to a slight murmur as people turned toward Carson, who was standing on the front porch.
“I think it is time to hear from the person who just might be our next councilman… or should I say, councilwoman. Mrs. Margaret Smith!”
“Speech!” the crowd cried. “Speech!”
The group broke into thunderous applause as an embarrassed Maggie tried to melt into the clapboards of Greybeal House. But Eli took Faith from her arms and gave her a gentle push forward, murmuring, “Go. Speak to them, Maggie.”
“What shall I say?” she whispered in panic.
“What’s on your heart, of course.” And he gave her another push.
Knees shaking and heart pounding, Maggie walked to the porch’s front.
She cleared her throat, then took a breath. “I haven’t prepared any words…”
“But… seeing all of you here makes my heart glad.” Suddenly the words came. “Why don’t you look around. Please. Just look around you.”
The people did, smiling at one another.
“Are you not beautiful? People of color and people with white skin. Just look at you! Sharing food, talking, enjoying the evening, and soon singing and dancing together. And why? Because we are celebrating the fact that nearly four out of six houses on Water Street, three out of five houses on Fourth Street, and all three of the houses on Main Street are nearly completed after an ugly, hateful act burned them down. That surely is something to celebrate!”
There was a wave of loud applause from the crowd.
Maggie held up her hands to quiet them. “And who, I ask, has accomplished this? Why, all of us! Together!”
Eli smiled as he listened to his wife. Faith attempted to grab his wire rim spectacles, but he moved his head back, took the baby’s hand in his, kissed it, and told her, “That’s your Mama up there, Fay.”
Bob, who was standing beside them, said, “I have the best Mama in the whole world.”
Eli tossed a grin at the boy, “You won’t get an argument from me, son.”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Maggie continued, “What I see before me is the Kingdom of God manifest. Scripture says there is no Jew nor Greek, no slave nor free, no male and female.” She paused, took a breath, and added, “And today we will add no black nor white. We are all one. We do not need to fear one another, hate one another, or pass laws to keep us apart. What we desire is justice for all, to love one another as brother and sister, and to pursue mercy. That is what makes a community strong. In fact that is what makes a community!”
A loud, approving roar from the crowd met her words.
Maggie held up her hands. “I appreciate your support, but please remember that I will not and cannot do a thing - not without every single one of you joining in and helping to make our town what it should be. I fear it will be a long, challenging struggle. But have faith, be strong, and act out of love. It will happen someday.” She took a breath and realized that she suddenly felt exhausted. The energy from the crowd and their expectations were almost too much. Calling up one last smile, Maggie added, “Now, please, go back to enjoying the evening. And thank you.”
Applause followed her as she strode across the porch and went inside the house. Eli was right behind her, with Faith and Bob in tow. Following them were Frankie and Lydia.
What happens after that? We’ll find out on Friday or Saturday or maybe next week (just kidding).
Stay chill, care, and be kind.
Janet R. Stafford
 Galatians 3:28
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Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder