Here we let the children tell whatever stories serve their needs. We were surprised, though, when they started a church. We had thought, naively it seems, there were enough religions, but they were all founded on faith and suddenly, empty chapels are easy to come by. Dropping by the children’s church on a Thursday after school, we saw two crosses of equal size and prominence on a platform, one for each thief. Both were unmanned. A smiling girl handed us cameras, cookies and something purple to drink. Take as many pictures as you can, she told us, so you can bear witness. The music, like jackhammers on concrete, except less melodic, rattled the windows. There were no pews or seats; instead, a roomful of children bounced the floor. We scanned their faces looking for our own and when we found them, saw that they looked happier than they do at home. A boy in white and a girl in white raised their hands above their heads and the music faded until we could hear ourselves think. Not everyone believes, said the boy beneath the cross. For every one who does believe, said the girl beneath the other cross, one does not. They never stopped smiling. We embrace the disbelief as well as the belief, they said together. We embrace the belief, said the children in unison, as well as the disbelief. The boy and the girl caught our eye and smiled as if posing for pictures. We took their picture. The music swelled and the children gathered at the feet of the crosses and clambered onto the platform. They grabbed the spikes at the hands and feet and boosted themselves onto the crosses, some to show the others that they believed, and others to show that they did not.

Copyright © April 14, 2008 David Hodges

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