The parson was on his daily morning walk, accompanied by Charlie Brown, his faithful canine companion, and Princess Penny, Charlie Brown’s sweetheart. It was early, but it was already warm. But the exercise gained from several circuits on the walking path circling a pond maintained by the county helped the parson in his constant battle to overcome birthdays.
Fred Watkins, a junior in college at Emory University and apparently home for the weekend, came jogging by. He hailed the parson but kept running. The parson sat down on a bench shaded by some trees. It was his daily ritual before heading back home, a trip that was longer than the combined laps around the pond. He pulled two steak bones from his backpack and tossed them to the dogs. The settled down, one on either side of his bench, and began chomping.
Fred came jogging toward the parson again. He slowed and then stopped. “Hello, Charlie Brown,” he said, reaching down to tug on one of Charlie’s ear. Charlie Brown glanced up but didn’t stop his bone exercise. Princes Penny immediately abandoned her bone and before she covered the three feet to Fred’s side her tail was moving from side to side at break tail speed. Fred grinned, “And hello to you, too, Penny.”
“Mind if I sit a minute, Parson?” asked Fred.
“Sit,” the parson replied. “What are you doing home so early in the semester?”
“Dad’s going on a trip with some of his friends this weekend. So, I’ve been recruited to mow the lawn at Aunt Shirley’s.”
The parson immediately became jealous as his mind recalled the days he could jog in the morning and cut the grass in the afternoon. Nowadays, he did one or the other.
“I’d like to ask you a question, Parson.”
“Can’t guarantee an answer, Fred, but go ahead.”
“Well, I’m taking a course in religious archaeology. It’s really interesting. So, and I guess I have a couple of questions, my studies indicate that the Exodus portrayed in the Bible probably never happened. Now, I know you read that story in church from time to time. My first question is: What’s right? The story you read or what I’m being told in my course?”
“Your professor’s a smart person,” the parson replied.
“You don’t believe in the Exodus either?”
“Well, it’s not that I do or do not believe in the story, Fred. The point is your professor, when he tells you there’s no archaelogical evidence that the Exodus happened, that a fact.”
“Okay, the second question: Why do you read the story from the pulpit?”
The parson thought a moment. He studied Fred as he thought. “Tell me, Fred, did you see the movie The Life of Pi?
“I did, Parson. I saw the movie and I also read the book.”
“Let me answer your question this way. Yann Martel, the author of The Life of Pi, once said, ‘Life is a story … You can choose your story … A story with God is a better story.’”