by Steven Wingate
He calls all of us my priest said but I didn’t hear Jesus only a bell clanging down a dusty street: a cowbell in a Wild West version of Galilee swung side to side on its rope by a wandering beggar shuffling by and saying He calls all of us. But I still didn’t hear Jesus though the next day I saw that beggar walking again swinging that bell again shoeless again, and I thought I’m a fool for just watching this. So I got a cowbell and a rope and walked ten paces behind him and swung that cowbell like I’d been doing it for two thousand years. But I still didn’t hear Jesus and I lost the rhythm of the swinging because I didn’t walk through the world right because I kept my shoes on because my feet were too weak to go bare and I wasn’t worthy of being a bell-swinging beggar. I was just a guy who tried and failed and I still didn’t hear Jesus. But then he whispered to me finally like a volunteer baseball coach talking to a kid who’s struck out five thousand times in a row, saying Come on now, you can do it now. Don’t listen to that “No” in your head.
Steven Wingate is the author of the novels The Leave-Takers (2021) and Of Fathers and Fire (2019), both part of the Flyover Fiction Series from the University of Nebraska Press. He is an associate professor at South Dakota State University. His writings on faith and culture have appeared in such venues as Image Journal’s “Good Letters” blog, The Cresset, Dappled Things, The Windhover, The Other Journal, Talking Writing, Solum Journal, Assisi, and Belmont Story Review.