Sunday, May 21, 2006

Evangeline (Part Three)

Pastor Ken and his wife Barbara began to notice things about Evangeline when she was just a toddler. Unlike most two-year olds, Evangeline was a sweet spirit. No temper tantrums or fits of hysteria. She was a happy child. In fact, she was so good, that the pastor’s wife never had to leave her in the nursery during church. She sat up front with her mom, eyes fixed on the choir. Whenever the choir would start to sing, Evangeline would begin to sing along, in a tiny voice, in perfect tune. She didn’t know the words, but she knew the melodies and was singing before she was talking.

By the time she started elementary school, Evangeline’s incredible voice was famous all over Harris Country. The Tabernacle Church was filled every Sunday with pilgrims come to hear the tiny girl with the miraculous voice. Rumors began to circulate that Evangeline’s voice had the healing powers. Cancer went in to remission. Heart disease disappeared. Tumors shrank, and arthritis dissolved after experiencing the voice of Evangeline, or so they said.

Now, I’m not a member of the Tabernacle Church. I was born and raised a Freewill Baptist and will be one ‘til the day I die, but I must admit I was curious. So, one Sunday, I decided to attend the Tabernacle Church. I know the other pastors in the area were dismayed by their shrinking attendance. I also knew that my pastor would notice my absence because I always sit on the same pew, in the same spot, like I have for over 60 years. I did feel bad about it, but I just had to hear for myself what everyone else was talking about.

I remember walking up the steps of the Tabernacle Church. There were people of all walks of life walking with me, all religions, all colors, and all classes. I worked my way through the crowd (one of the good things about being an old woman is that people make way for you) and found a narrow spot at the end of a long wooden pew.

I could see Evangeline in the front row of the choir. She wore the same robe as the adults, just a smaller version. Her delicate features were framed by a mass of golden brown curls. I have never seen a child so young with so much hair.

The choir stood up. They sang the first verse of Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow, and then Evangeline began to sing. Right here and now, telling you this, I get the same gooseflesh I got that day. My body was covered head to toe with it. My scalp tingled and my heart fluttered in my chest. “Impossible,” I thought to myself. “It’s a trick.”

You see, Evangeline was singing harmony...with herself! It’s impossible to conceive, but I tell you it’s true. Her voice was the voice of more than one – it was melody and harmony and layers of sound and tones and perfect, clear pitch. It was a voice that could only be described as...angelic.

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