Pages from a Storyteller's Journal - A morning club from WaterBrook Multnomah

It's A Green Thing
By Melody Carlson

Chapter One - Part 4

“We’ll need a lot of different colors.”

“So you can see the rainbow?” I asked. “I mean, since there’s no color in my sketch?”

“Yeah. I get where you’re going.” She snuffed out her cigarette, then reached in her bag for a tin of colored pencils. “Here, add some color.”

By midmorning we had a final colored sketch as well as Mrs. Albert’s approval.

“Very nice, girls,” she told us as we were ushered out of her office. “And anything will be an improvement over what’s out there now.”

“Well, that was flattering,” Marissa said as we headed down to the storage room to meet the janitor and check out the ladders and painting supplies.

“At least her expectations aren’t too high.”

Marissa laughed. “Yeah, I’m pretty good at meeting people’s low expectations.”

I wanted to ask her why that was, but we needed to get busy if we were going to put more volunteers to work tomorrow. And to my relief, Marissa actually knew how to work hard. By the end of the day, Marissa had gotten the paints, and I had managed to get a fair amount of the sketch onto the lower part of the wall.

“Nice work, boss,” Marissa said after we’d put the supplies away and stood looking at the beginning of our mural.

“Same back at you.” And I have to admit that I was kind of excited to see how this whole thing would turn out. And hopefully more people will show up to help tomorrow.

Maya’s Green Tip of the Day
Don’t pour harmful wastes down public waterways. Storm drains on public streets are for rainwater to run off so the streets don’t flood. They’re not a convenient way for people to get rid of chemicals or solvents or even the bucket of soapy water after you wash your car. Unless you use bio-friendly car-wash detergent, which I highly recommend. You need to respect that the water that runs off our streets eventually winds up in streams and waterways and can harm innocent fish or other marine wildlife. So don’t use your street drain as a dumping spot.

Chapter Two

June 10
As it turned out, we had a crew of seven workers this morning. Okay, not first thing. But by the time Marissa and I had gotten the ladders and scaffolding in place, the other five had arrived, and we put them to work applying paint. I was working fast, trying to get the outline of the sketch onto the wall, with Marissa following me, chalking in numbers that we had prematched with colors for our painters to fill in.

“It’s a kind of paint-by-number thing,” I explained, trying not to stare at the odd assortment of volunteers. First there was Spencer, a hard-case dude with a reputation for all kinds of stuff, and his buddy Jake, who still has some rough edges himself, although he’s a Christian. And then we had three clean-cut,
preppy-looking church kids that Caitlin had managed to talk into helping us. To my dismay, Dominic was not among them. However, one of these kids turned out to be a quiet but hard-working guy named Matt Stephens. How he got mixed up with the two airheaded girls was a mystery.

Okay, I know it’s wrong to call Brooke Marshall and Amanda Groves airheads, but even though they’re part of the youth group, they’re not exactly the kind of girls I’ve been dying to get to know better. Unfortunately, they remind me of Kim’s buddy Natalie. Meaning they talk too much, have opinions that I don’t necessarily agree with, and seem to think they are better than everyone else. Okay, that’s my honest take on it. And this is my diary, so I can say what I like!

Anyway, by noon it seemed that our ground crew of five painters was making progress. The color was going up, and despite Brooke and Amanda questioning stupid things like whether number seven was fuchsia or magenta, we were doing
okay. Matt was a pretty fast painter, and Jake seemed willing to work, but Spencer acted like this was supposed to be a big party, and he spent most of his time harassing either Marissa or me (or perhaps he thought he was flirting). He kept a safe distance from the “church girls,” as he called them. And naturally, they were quick to point out anything that Spencer was doing wrong. Of course, he made this easy for them. And I suppose I don’t really blame him. Brooke and Amanda seemed to invite it.

But tonight as I write this, I’m a little concerned. I’m wondering, as a Christian, whether it’s wrong to have bad feelings toward other Christians. There’s no denying that Brooke and Amanda are Christians. They’ve made that pretty clear. But at the same time, I don’t really want to be associated with them. And then I feel guilty. I guess I’ll have to ask Caitlin for some clarification on this. Because the truth is, Brooke and Amanda make me want to run in the opposite direction or maybe just scream some loud obscenity like Spencer does.

“Don’t use the Lord’s name in vain,” Brooke corrected him—over and over today. And it seemed that the more she said this, the worse he got.

“Hey, Spencer,” I called. “Maybe you should come up here and work.” I thought some space between him and the church girls might help.

His eyes lit up. “Yeah, babe, I’d like that.”

“Great.” I climbed down the ladder. “Go for it.”

“I thought we were both going to be working up there.”

“Like you really wanted to work with her,” scolded Amanda. “We know what you are up to.”

And so it went. Oh, it’s not just that these girls seemed afraid to get their hands dirty or break a nail—although that was the case at first. But they had this superior attitude. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re Christians or because they just honestly believe they’re better than the rest of us, but it was like they were doing us this huge favor by lowering themselves to help out today. Such saintly servants of the Lord. Really, someone should’ve just handed them their crowns and sent thempacking. Quite honestly, I hope they don’t come back tomorrow. And unfortunately, I have no doubt that Marissa feels the same.

Anyway, it was a relief to call it a day. Although even that started another disagreement. “Don’t pour that down there!” I yelled at Brooke. She was about to pour a bucket of sludgy paint water down the street grate.


End of Chapter 1/Day 4 Excerpt - More from chapter 1 coming in tomorrow's email!