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Black Opinions

Viewpoint: The Angel and The Lawman

By Dennis Edwards

Editorial Columnist

New Journal and Guide

One of the many things I love about the church I attend is how, after each service, the bookstore serves fresh popped popcorn. It’s a kind of triple religious experience. The Lord speaks into life and living through our Pastor, we are blessed in worship and there’s a fresh box of popcorn waiting there just for me. God and popcorn, two of “my favorite things.” A connoisseur of popcorn with an affinity for divinity couldn’t ask for anything more.

A few Sundays ago, while standing in line with fellow connoisseurs of the consecrated kernel, something happened that unexpectedly captured my heart. There was this adorable little girl, maybe six years old wearing pig tails, a perfectly dainty dress and a smile that will break hearts for the rest of her life. She is a tiny thing with a large spirit and she was standing there talking face to face, toe to toe, with an older serious spirited man in a loose fitting cognac three-piece suit.

Their countenances couldn’t have contrasted more vividly. It’s my understanding he’s the head of church security. The kind of person who might be inclined to assume honest, creative or simply kind expressions of admiration hide more sinister motivations. Yet his bearing didn’t intimidate her at all.

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Of course, he would never admit it, probably had no idea what was happening, but something in her pure innocence dispatched the police officer in his past and summoned the little boy deep inside. He gently reached in his vest pocket and tenderly gave her a starlight peppermint and for a split second a boy and girl shared a delightful moment. His guard went down, her affection rose up and the two of them connected on just the right plain.

Unfortunately, the interlude was short lived. Serious people aren’t always comfortable with that kind of intimacy. But little girls are and aren’t we glad they’re wired that way? What an incredible moment to see and explore. As the Pastor might say, most of the folks in the room “missed it.” And isn’t that just like the moments in life that really matter. Only a few people really see them.

Thought about that scene off and on all day. Found myself musing, contemplating how many great moments in life go under appreciated. How they’re like private revelations, gifts from God himself. Little ones that remind us how He is in the details, how he fills the minor milliseconds that really matter.

This was one of those “twinkling of the eye moments.” In it there’s a glimpse of a hidden soft spot perhaps concealed by the tendency, as some of us get older, to be suspicious of the sheer innocence of simple adoration. Yet the little girl sees through that. She got to that little boy deep within. And for a moment he didn’t try to hide him.

I wish more of us would let our inner little boy or little girl come out and play. Maybe that would allow us to take people at face value, to see each other as we really are and not as someone else wants us to be seen.

Ever notice how kids share their stories all the time? I like listening to the way they actually hear each other out. Maybe at some level children instinctively understand the tragic moments we live through aren’t a reflection of who we are, that things aren’t always everything they appear to be. For children, what they see is who we are. And for the most part there are those of us who are exactly what we appear to be.

Perhaps that’s what the little girl did while standing in line waiting for that box of popcorn. She saw and liked the little boy and the layers of life that shaped the jaded man didn’t matter to her. She just enjoyed the fact he cared enough to offer her something they both loved. So she took it, gave him an adorable smile in return and both of them, the angel and the law man, parted company feeling good about themselves and even better about the moment they shared.

Dennis Edwards is an Emmy Award winning Television Investigative Journalist. He is a graduate of Suffolk High School, Virginia Union University and it’s Samuel Proctor School of Theology. Email him at

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