Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

“Jimmy, what you must believe is that God exists, and He reveals himself through creation. I look at these books when I have trouble believing.”
“you, Sister? Sometimes you don’t believe?”
“everybody has doubts sometimes. When I’m troubled, I look at these books and it helps me. I want you to know that you can come here any time you want and look at them.” I scanned the table. Besides a bible, there were books called Waterfalls and Islands, The Architecture of Rome, Sunsets in the West, The Eightfold Path of Enlightenment, The Koran, and The Way of the American Indian.
“Some people might not approve of me showing you some of these books but God the father certainly isn’t a Catholic because Jesus was Jewish so… Which one first?” “Waterfalls and Islands for twenty dollars,” I said. “Don’t get cute,” Sister John growled, but I saw the side of her mouth twitch as she tried to keep from smiling. She turned to a picture of a waterfall streaming down a mountain. A large white bird soared in the foreground.
“Where is this?” “Hawaii. Jimmy, always believe in God like a child because everything was made in God,” she said. She flipped through The Architecture of Rome.
“Look at the buildings. you can see the Creator inspired the architects. God is everywhere. All you need do is believe, and then you will see.”
“Neat,” I said.
“The Eightfold Path of Enlightenment, The Bible, The Koran, and The Way of the Native American Indian are books written in God’s hand and have been passed down from generation to generation from the beginning of time.” “Are these books true, Sister?”
“Believe in God and you will see that any God powerful enough to create these books, the stars, and the universe, is big- ger than your struggles.”
“But, Sister, there is so much wrong with the world. Mr. Swaney’s lawnmower was stolen and I know who has it and they’re planning to make a motorbike out of it right now! Mr. Swaney is so sad. He says he can’t afford another one. you know he’s retired, and without his yard work, he has nothing to do! Sister, please, how could I ever believe like you?” She nodded sympathetically.
“Jimmy, in spite of what is going on around you, you must live with honesty. you must be stronger than your character flaws. even if someday you’re so troubled that you stop going to church—and I hope that doesn’t happen but if it should—remember to share the things you’ve done wrong with a close friend and then right the wrong you’ve done to another. Apologize and make up your mind not to commit the wrong again.”
“Hey, we just finished the list! That was fast!” Sister John smiled.
“We still have to talk about Number Seven.” “Oh, we don’t have to go over that one. I understand it.”
“Oh no you don’t! A few moments ago you said you were my friend.”
“I am!”
“Then tell me honestly what you want most in this world.” “I don’t know, Sister. I’m only a kid.”
“When you think about your father, and about Larry, what do you want?” Her question produced a flash of anger.
“I want to get even with them for what they did to me. At least Larry’s moved away and I don’t have to see him again, but my father still calls me a queer when he’s drunk, and when he’s sober he doesn’t want anything to do with me. I want to kill him. I think about it all the time.” I expected her to be shocked, but she just nodded.
“Jimmy, what your mind craves the most is what your soul needs the least. I want you to start with Number Seven, because in all situations you can either help people or hurt people. If you
choose to help people, it will break this one-dimensional think- ing, your desire for revenge.” I squirmed in my chair. How did nuns sit on these things, anyway? It was harder than the seats in the desks at school!
“But Sister, I don’t know how to help other people!”
“Jimmy, as you grow older and learn more about how people work, especially as you try to live by these seven guides I’ve writ- ten down, you’ll begin to see that other people struggle with the same problems you face. you don’t have to solve their big problems—just help them with the little things. Let them know they’re not alone. In helping them, you’ll be helping yourself. It’s what I call a good-good solution. If you help someone in all situations, everyone—including you—benefits.”
“even my dad?”
“I don’t know,” she said.
“But help in all situations and the ones you help will give you the approval you need. Make your moment-to-moment existence bigger than the harm being done to you, and you will find that everyone around you will love you. The people who try to belittle you will stand alone.” She put the books away and then said abruptly,
“Now what happened with David at the beach?” “I got lucky. Something very bad almost happened, but it didn’t. David didn’t get hurt, and I got the worst of it.” I stood up and opened my shirt to show her the scratches on my stomach. “And now there’s something I have to do,” I told her. I grabbed the list and started up the stairs. “Where are you off to in such a hurry?” “Number seven,” I said, waving the list at her. “I know how to get Mr. Swaney’s lawnmower back. “How’s that?” “I’m going to steal it back for him. When they eat lunch, I’m going to—” She pointed her finger at me. “No hurting people, right?” “Only if I have to, Sister, only if I have to.” She shook her head, so I quickly changed my tune.

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