Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Susan W.

October 17, 2018

Dear Susan,

It’s pretty ironic that the first time I ever saw a drag queen it was through the window of a church van that took a wrong turn and sputtered into Deep Ellum—150 miles from its rural home port in Marietta, TX. My jaw dropped a quarter-mile. Was that a man in a dress, or a woman with a beard? The van would break down a few blocks later and the youth were promptly armed with tire irons. The next 15 minutes of tension could have been a suspenseful pre-massacre scene from Night of the Living Dead. Of course we all lived to tell the tale.

Twenty-something years later, I live in the Seattle area and work in Dallas most weeks. I stay in AirBnBs instead of hotels, sometimes right in the heart of Deep Ellum. Hipsters abound in the artsy atmosphere. Their fashion sense can be quite prissy, but I don’t see many full-on bears in heels. I don’t know what’s changed more since the SBC inadvertently rolled a band of impressionable youth through what was then considered the coronary artery of the heart of darkness—Deep Ellum, or me. But that will always be a fun story in hindsight.

I’m writing to thank you, though, for another memory that has endured the test of time. Even before my family changed churches to attend Oakridge Baptist full-time, my sister and I would attend Vacation Bible School there, just down the street from our house, in the summers. The earliest, most vivid introduction to contagious joy that I can remember came from you, behind a keyboard, leading our little music sessions.

You can’t get to heaven on roller skates
Because you’ll roll right past those pearly gates.

You can’t get to heaven in a putt-putt car
‘Cause a putt-putt car don’t putt that far.

What couldn’t help me gain admission was more evident than how to acquire the golden ticket at that point. It would be a few years before Randy Fair showed up to put on that chalk-sketch revival. It wasn’t until then, at the age of 7, that the power of grace and the significance of the ultimate sacrifice sank in deep enough to motivate me to walk down the aisle and get dunked. But you were one of the first people I knew in whom the joy of the Lord was so evident that it made me want whatever it was in your heart that put such a smile on your face and sparkle in your eye. Thank you for sharing the love with me and the other kiddos during your time in Marietta.



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