Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

“eight, and don’t try to change the subject,” she snapped. After a bit of quiet time at the table, I gave up. “I can’t tell you. I promised I’d keep it a secret.” “I see.” She studied me across the table for what seemed like an hour. My heart was pounding, our eyes were locked. If I looked away, she might think she could break me, so I held fast. She leaned toward me. I could pick up the sweet smell of the starch in her habit.
“Jimmy, I know what happened a couple of years ago. It was a terrible thing Larry did to you. ever since then, you have been getting in trouble. your grades have fallen, you’ve put on a lot of weight. It’s a horrible cross you’ve had to carry.
“I just want you to know that none of these things would have happened if Larry hadn’t—if you hadn’t been molested.” “I know all of you know what happened. But how come you never said anything to me?”
“I’ve tried. We’ve all tried. Father Chez and Miss Tormey and I have had many discussions about you, and we were hoping you would confide in us. It is a very hard thing even for grown-ups to talk about. And none of us at the parish have any experience handling anything like this. your parents…well, they didn’t want our help. But with this latest event, I know we were all wrong. We should have insisted, somehow, that you get the kind of help you needed to deal with this.
“And now, we have no time to spare. I think your soul is in peril. I have to teach you what you need to learn for your only hope for a decent life. But first, you must tell me how you arranged to solve…the garden problem.” Again we locked eyes.
“A friend kept a promise to me, and I have to return the favor and keep him out of it.”
“Then let me ask you, am I also your friend?”
“yes, Sister. you know you’re my best friend in the whole world, even more than Tommy and Billy.”
“Good. Then I will make you a promise, but you must make a promise back.” “If I can, Sister.” “Jimmy, what I will do is never ask you again how you worked it out so that I could have my garden back. But in return, you must make time to come here so that I can teach you the myster- ies of the soul.” “I promise, Sister, but can we start Tuesday? Tomorrow I’m going to the beach with the guys.” “Tuesday it is. But before you go, I’m going to write an outline for you.” She went to a small drop-leaf wooden desk and removed a piece of paper and pen. She sat at the table writing for a minute, then handed the paper to me.

Mysteries of the Soul

1. Believe in God like a child.

2. Believe that God is more powerful than your problems.

3. Pray for strength to live God’s will.

4. Live your life honestly and morally.

5. Share your wrongdoing with a close friend.

6. Right the wrongs you’ve done to others.

7. Find someone you can help in all situations.

After reading it I stuffed it in my shirt pocket.
“Groovy. I understand.” “Impossible,” she said. “Why?”
“Because you will have to live this out in your life in order to understand it. experience these seven things I’ve written down and you will have experienced God.” Suddenly I realized she was as serious as that beating we gave to Slim and Muhammad. Then she took the paper back and added at the bottom of the page: Experience God’s healing, knowledge and purpose!
“Sounds too easy, so it must not be,” I said.
“Ah, good. The Divine Child’s interest is piqued. you’re right, Jimmy. It sounds easy but it’s not. This is the narrow road that Jesus spoke about in the Gospels. very few have been able to walk it, but I believe you can. Maybe, just maybe, before all is said and done you’ll leave your mark on the planet in a good way.”
“Wow! The whole planet?” “yes, the whole planet, Jimmy.” “Why, Sister? How do you know this about me?” “Because you have experienced one of the worst acts of evil that a child can endure, and you’re still standing. And not only are you standing, but you’re fighting back. you want to be good, only you’re confused—” “Why do you say I’m confused?” I interrupted. “Because you are NOT supposed to be hurting people.” “Sister, I really thought about it, and I was just doing what adults do.” “I beg your pardon?” “When a grown-up gets tired of us kids not doing what we’re supposed to, we get hit, sometimes with a belt.” “What does that have to do with anything?” “That’s exactly what I did. They knew they weren’t behaving so I hit them with a ruler and now look at your garden. It’s beauti- ful. It wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for a big, big, big belt.” She laughed and tickled my stomach. “I thought we weren’t going to talk about it.”

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