On An Easter Morning by Barbara V.

Word Count 1,523

Theresa and Scott were already in the ranch buggy waiting for Murdoch and Johnny to join them.

“I wish they would hurry up. We’re going to be late.”

“We have plenty of time for you and Annie to show off your new Easter fashions, before you scope out the young men.”

“Scott Lancer. What a mean thing to say. It’s not our fault that men are drawn to beautiful young ladies.”

Scott laughed and reached to kiss Teresa on her forehead. “I’m just joking. You are always beautiful.” Teresa was once again her happy self.

Murdoch exited the house and turned expecting to see Johnny on Barranca ready to head to town for church. He looked toward the hill and saw the big palomino grazing and Johnny sitting alone. He knew then Johnny would not be joining them for Easter services. He walked toward the buggy to greet his other two ‘children.’

“Murdoch, where’s Johnny?” Teresa was growing impatient and Scott was growing concerned.

“Scott, you take Teresa on ahead. I have to take care of something. Johnny must have changed his mind about joining us.”

While seeing the buggy off, Murdoch was unconsciously rubbing the outer pocket of his coat. He saddled his horse and started toward his son and Barranca.

Not wanting to startle Johnny as he knew that could be dangerous, Murdoch began singing a tune he learned as a child.

“I ain’t gonna shoot ya. What are ya doing up here?”

“I might ask you that same question, young man.”  Murdoch dismounted, heading for a downed log. Johnny met him with a cup of coffee.

“I guess I disappointed ya’ again. I was gonna go to church with ya, honest. But I got to thinking how packed churches are on Christmas and Easter. I started getting sweaty just thinking about it; too many people. I just couldn’t do it. I‘m sorry.”

“You don’t have to be sorry, Son. I understand, really I do. May I ask why you came out here this morning?”

“I been up here since it was just light enough for Barranca to see where he was going. This is a really good place to sit and think. I watched the sun peek out, and it looked just like those paintings Scott showed me. It was so quiet I could hear myself think.”

“I did not mean to intrude on you, Son. I’m sorry.” Murdoch made to leave.

“No, no, I ‘m glad ya came. Sitting here I watched all the ranch families leaving for mass. I bet both churches are packed. I was thinking about sin and forgiveness. I never thought there would be forgiveness for me after all I’ve done.”

Murdoch wanted to speak but held silent. He did not want to interrupt. Johnny told so little of his life growing up or when he became Johnny Madrid.

“Mama used to like church. We went a lot when I was real little. Later when we started moving from place to place, we were always outsiders, and not really welcomed. Then when Mama started getting money from men she bedded and started drinking so much, we were looked down on; sometimes even spat on. I was no help with my blue eyes. She began to change; became cold.”

“I asked Mama once if we could start going to church again. She hit me and said I was not to ask about going to church ever again. She said the way the Padre’s and townspeople treat us showed they weren’t godly people. Mama started blaming God for our circumstances.  She changed; became cold.

Murdoch’s heart was breaking for his son and all he endured. He did not speak, but laid his hand on Johnny’s knee to show support.

“We moved around a lot. I remember once when the church was preparing for Friday mass, I went to the side window to peek.  A kindly old Padre saw me and called to me. I started to run, but he stopped me. I thought he was going to beat me like some of the priests in other towns. He gave me a hunk of bread from a loaf he carried, and asked me to come into the church with him. Padre Michael let me sit in the pew with him as we ate our bread.” Johnny stopped speaking for a moment, as if he was recalling these events from a forgotten memory..

”When we finished, I walked over to the altar. There was a crucifix and it was covered with a black cloth. He told me that was to symbolize the day Christ died. That always made me sad. I did not realize I was crying. Padre asked me to sit back down. He put his arm around me. Me; a raggedy little mestizo boy was hugged by this kindly Padre.  I told him I better be going. He gave me some more bread and some cheese. He told me if I had a chance to come by on Sunday.

On the way home I got to thinking, maybe Mama was wrong. Padre Michael did not judge me, so there may be a chance with God.”

“Did you go back son?”

“Yeah I did. It was just before service. Padre invited me in. I told him I couldn’t. I wouldn’t be welcome. I thanked him but told him there would be no talking to God for me today. He told me something I will always remember.   ‘God will always hear you, my son. You do not need to be inside a building to talk to him. All you need do is look up to the heavens, and speak to him. He will hear you, always.’ I never forgot that or him.”

“That is true, Son. Churches were built so people could worship in the ways they were taught. But a person’s thoughts and prayers under a star filled night or a beautiful day as we have today will always be heard, and just as loud as those uttered in church.”

“Did Mama go to church when she was on Lancer? Did you take me to church?”

“Yes Son she did; quite often. And yes, we did take you, but you were not exactly happy to sit in one place that long. Seems that hasn’t changed. Murdoch was happy to see a smile come to Johnny’s face.

“When I got older and started hiring my gun, I kinda lost my way for a while. I thought there would never be a chance at salvation for me. Then I started using my gun more to help people rather than kill. I still thought all the good deeds would never cancel out all the sin in me. The people I helped were so appreciative for my help. They were poor and had nothing to give but their friendship, and a good meal. I started feeling good about myself. I started talking to God again. I think he is listening to me. I hope he is, anyway.”

Johnny noticed the sun getting higher. “Hey, ya let me talk ya ear off. You’re gonna be late for church.”

“I’m not going to church. This looks like the perfect spot to reflect and pray. I have something for you. I intended to give it to you after services.”

He reached into his side pocket and withdrew a small bible. “This was your mother’s bible. She used to take it to church and she even held it during our wedding. It’s yours now Son.”

“Really? Are you sure?” Johnny stood, wiping his hands on his pants before touching the bible. He opened the cover and was fingering the pages.

Hesitantly he spoke. “Pa, will ya read the part about the resurrection for me, please?” He was holding the bible to hand to his father.

“I would be happy to read it, Son. ”As Murdoch prepared to read, Johnny sat back down on the downed log, as anxious as a child at story time.

Scott pulled the buggy up to the front door and helped Teresa down. He looked toward the hill and noticed the two figures.

“I wonder why Johnny and Murdoch didn’t meet us at church. Oh, I see them on the hill. Let’s take a walk and see what they’re up to.”

“No Teresa, I think we should leave them alone. Besides we have to get set up for the party and hide the eggs.”

Murdoch and Johnny did not realize the time passed so quickly. They saw the ranch families returning from town.

“Wow we been here that long? Guess we better get going before Miss bossy starts to fuss.”

Father and son stood to head to the horses. Murdoch stopped and grabbed Johnny in a fierce hug. Johnny returned the hug as his head rested on Murdoch’s broad chest. They broke, and mounted up.

“Boy, I can’t wait to get to all that food!” Laughing, Johnny mounted Barranca and he took off running.  Murdoch was laughing as well. He kicked his big gelding to try and catch Johnny.

~End~

Happy Easter  
April 17, 2022

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11 thoughts on “On An Easter Morning by Barbara V.

  1. Such a beautiful, simple story about talking with God no matter where we are, that He always hears our prayers, and finding our way back to Him when we lose our way. Love Johnny asking Pa to read the Resurrection story to him. Thank you, Barbara.

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    1. Bev,

      Thank you so much for your comments on my story. am so happy it was so well received. Thank you again.

      Barbara V

      Like

  2. This is one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read. The true meaning of Easter, when Johnny asks Murdoch to read about the resurrection comes through in just a few words. Thank you for blessing us with it.

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    1. Debra,

      I am so thrilled my story was well received. Your kind comments mean so much to me. Thank you.

      Barbara V

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  3. Such a sweet story! I love that it shows the hearts of these two awesome men and their belief in a merciful and loving God Thank you!

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    1. Carol,

      Thank you so much.I am happy you enjoyed it. My Murdock is more fatherly than he is usually portrayed. Thank you again.

      Barbara V

      Like

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