Calvin and Hobbits

I grew up in the Presbyterian church where I sat beside my mother on a long pew with moss colored cushions. I rustled beside her like a tumbleweed from one of our favorite westerns until a crayon would somehow show up out of her purse that smelled of powder and wintergreen mints. With my single crayon, I drew looping pictures all over the bulletin, all over the names of the hymns. I drew all creatures great and small. They were wise and wonderful. When it was time, I stood and recited the Lord's Prayer and sang All Things Bright and Beautiful, a wind chime next to my mother's rich, sweet bell. I knew some things about Predestination and Grace and I was showered with benedictions. 

Later, I knew the Apostles Creed and on our quarterly communion Sunday, knew some of the Nicene Creed, but had to look at the hymnal for parts of it because it was way long. My mother was no longer beside me then, gone when I was just newly ten, blessings spoken over her as they committed ashes to ashes, dust to dust, even though she was my mother and it hurt to think of her like that.

But I found more things to believe in. Shamans in the desert, with mysticism in the sand. Native American beliefs and creation stories, their animals and totems roaming in my dreams. Shinto shrines, with spirits in moss covered trees and in the fog that draped over them. Incense and incantations. A wardrobe and a lion who roared like God in a snowy Narnia. And hobbits with their quest for rings. 

I believed in all of them. I believe in them still. 

And when the moon is full and its beautiful and disturbing light falls all over the trees and the yard and keeps me awake, I unwrap myself from blankets, look out the window and watch for Druids. 

Because we are all so small and there is wonder in pews and in the sands of New Mexico, in the shadows of mountains and on the white lips of waves, in lions and lambs and in the thin fingers of a mother who loved you and wanted you to be still, handing you a mint and a crayon and the beginnings of faith.


Ashland, VA

Mary Jo finds her energy when she's at a table writing with others and hearing their stories and voices.

She sometimes posts on her blog at