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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Preacher and the Mosquito

Mosquito One Mosquito Two

Dr. Lester Hazlewood-Simon

It can never be a good or wise thing to stand before a congregation, including little children, offer praise and prayer to God, and preach fire and brimstone, when the air conditioner is not working, and mosquitoes are swarming about. Amen.

It is not only that you are praying far too loudly Brother Fire, why you cannot hear them. Evolution has made modern mosquitoes smartly silent. The same good book you are waving at us reminds you that those who cannot hear, including you, Brother Fire, will feel.

We train our children as well as we can. We tell them to have manners to adults; to be kind but watchful of strangers; and to do onto others as they would have others do onto them. Especially in pubic places, like halls of worship, they must only speak when they are spoken to; and not pretend they are speaking to God, since God speaks to children only through their parents, grandparents or godparents.

Parents know bright children and we also know challenging children. Sometimes, they are one and the same. Take little Johnny for example. You know he will grow up to be a musician or a lawyer. He always has something to say. When you beseech him to stop, he continues with such interjecting syncopation, you have to quote Psalm 121, “I will lift up mine eyes onto the hills, from whence cometh my help”. But, to little Johnny, figures of speech and reality roll into one. So when you lift up your eyes onto the hills and chant the Psalm, he lifts up his eyes to an imaginary hill. And then he quickly reminds you that Jack and Jill went up the very same hill.

If some children need home schooling, some children need home churching. Because? Here are father and son in the front row of the congregation because they came late and the front pews were empty because everybody knows Brother Fire loves to point on people when he is preaching.

When Brother Fire heats up and is drenched in rivers of sweat, wetting up handkerchief, wash rag and bath towel, and getting ready to point, daddy knows it is time to gently touch little Johnny to warn him to keep his little behind quiet.

But little Johnny’s growing brain is full of countless networks. So daddy’s very gentle touch is the prime signal for little Johnny to play. Since he is in church and mosquitoes are teeming about, what better song to sing and play other than his favourite, and his father’s favourite, mosquito one mosquito two?

Some children see colours when they sing. Some see movements of clouds or people or words, even objects and places crossing through lines and boundaries. So now, having learnt the mosquito song at home and having practised it to ward off mosquitoes, what better help can innocent, caring, little Johnny offer sweltering, poor Brother Fire? Brother Fire struts about, as he is wont but now more so. In fact he is hopping and skipping and jumping in the stifling heat to avoid the devilish army of crucifying mosquitoes.

Johnny sings softly to his father; mosquito one mosquito two. But for the fist time in his young, singing career, little Johnny can see his entire song come to life. As more mosquitoes crowd around and entangle Brother Fire’s jumping shoes, little Johnny sings on. Mosquito one mosquito two, mosquito jump in the old man shoe.

Toilet training is a crucial and satisfying part of growing up. Any good toilet training must start and end with proper entry and exit via the door. For example, walk to the toilet; don’t run. But emergencies happen. A brisk walk to the toilet can accelerate to a run as you near the door and the call of nature hastens. Brother Fire knows that the door nearest the pulpit is his quick, saving exit from the punishing mob of mosquitoes so he makes an accelerating toilet move. As he is about to open the door, a squad of mosquitoes land on the doorknob, sandwiching his hand and the knob, biting him with devilish vengeance. To little Johnny, the mosquitoes are only playing a game with Brother Fire. Little Johnny sings aloud to inform the whole congregation. Mosquito three mosquito four, mosquito open the old man’s door.

Brother Fire espies another exit, drops the microphone, and the good Lord’s Bible, takes his feet into his hands, along with another gang of hungry mosquitoes, and attempts a “usainian” bolt for the other door with his feet passing his pointing hands. Little Johnny cannot believe how real his little song is coming to real life. Mosquito five mosquito six, mosquito pick up the old man sticks.

Good toilet training must make use of other activities children are used to. Opening and closing the zipper of the pants is like opening and closing a door. Lowering your pants and sitting properly and quietly on the toilet seat is like opening a gate properly and cautiously to allow easy, uninterrupted passage.

So by now, knowing what must be next, daddy jumps up, makes a quick sign of the cross and grabs little Johnny’s hand to lead him outside. But before they reach the middle pews, little Johnny looks back. Brother Fire is covered by a wild posse of mosquitoes and everyone is in embroidered stitches. The laughter rises to the high ceiling and is enjoined with a wicked, rolling, escaping, and deafening poop; from Brother Fire. Mosquito seven mosquito eight, mosquito open the old man gate.

It must be punishment for something Brother Fire did, to attract the horde of unrelenting mosquitoes. Sprays of Off! and Baygon try to rescue Brother Fire. As father and child reach the door, everyone thinks it is over. Too late. Little Johnny knows instinctively that, as a prophecy must be fulfilled, so too must a good song be concluded. Little Johnny triumphantly continues to sing at the top of his shrilling voice. At the door, he glances back and points predictably and conclusively at Brother Fire. Mosquito nine mosquito ten, mosquito biting the old man again.

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