Day after day, carrying two pieces of wood he would walk the same route. The town’s people would whisper about this young boy. The men sitting on the benches in front of the barber shop would shout at him as he walked by, but he never yielded from his path or turned to acknowledge them. They would sit around and gossip about what the boy was doing in the woods with the wood. “He’s building a fort,” one of them said. “Maybe he’s building a bridge,” another gentleman added.
They would watch their watches carefully and like clockwork, the young boy would appear from the woods at six in the evening. They were amazed. For weeks he walked down and back, carrying his pieces of wood. He never said a word, just walked right past the men sitting on the bench. After a couple of weeks, even the store owners along the street and the people buying groceries would step out at four to watch him walk by. He never disappointed them, wood in hand; he continued his journey down Main Street and into the woods.
One Sunday, about two months after he started his ritual walk down the road, he came walking down the road at his usual four pm. On this particular day however, he did not have the two pieces of wood. In fact he toted a little red wagon behind him as we walked in front of the men sitting on the benches. This time however instead of passing by the hardware store, he walked into the hardware store. Everyone turned in amazement as he diverted from his path. They waited with bated breath to see what he walked out of the hardware store with.
After about twenty minutes he emerged from the hardware store with his wagon. The wagon was filled with paint cans. He led the wagon to the middle of the street and continued down his path and into the woods. The men got up off their bench and everyone who had gathered outside to watch the young boys daily parade down the street walked over to the hardware store. Walking inside, they asked the shop keep what the boy bought. “He wanted paint. He asked me for anything that I had that was left over or not used and he bought some white paint as well.” Grumbling started throughout the crowd as they tried to figure out what the young boy was up to.
After a few minutes, everyone went about their business until it was time to wait for him to return. When six pm rolled around, everyone got in position to watch for the young boy to appear out of the woods. Six came and went. Six thirty came and went. Seven came and went. People began to get worried. The gentlemen on the benchs decided that something was wrong. The young boy was never later. They decided even though over the past two months none of them had ever walked into the woods to see what the boy was up to, that they needed to go and see if he was okay.
They got up and walked down the street and into the woods. The dirt path winded deep into the woods. There was no sign of the boy or his wagon. About twenty minutes into their adventure into the woods, they could see an opening in the distance. They saw the boy, feverish at work. Not wanting to startle him, they called out to him. Hearing them, he looked up and motioned for them to come closer. The men walked to where the boy was. There in front of them built out of pieces of wood were lots and lots of crosses.
Each of them was different. Some of them were hanging in the trees, while others were staked into the ground. Some were big and some were small. Some of the trees were used as the horizontal part of the cross. Some stood as tall as the men while others were as small as a pack of playing cards. Some stood solid while others swayed in the breeze.
The young boy was painting them, one by one. He had three in the middle that he had painted white. The men stood in awe. They were not sure why such a young boy had created such a beautiful, wonderful, profound, work of art.
One of the men walked up to the boy.
“Son, why have you built all these crosses?” The boy covered in paint, stopped painting and looked up at the man.
“Every night this summer, my mother has tucked me in and asked me a question. She asks me if I have seen Jesus today. The first couple of times she asked me, I didn’t know how to answer the question. She would say, everyday find something in the world that reminds you of Jesus. He is always with you and I want you to remember that.”
The boy wiped paint from his chin.
“So I started to think of the one thing that has always reminded me of Jesus. The cross always reminded me of Jesus dying for my sins. I decided that every day I would build a cross so that I could tell my mother, yes I saw Jesus today.”
“I ran out of wood so I decided that I would paint each cross and then invite my mother here so that she could see Jesus.”
The men were absolutely in awe of this young boy and how mature he was. Without saying a word, a couple of men went back and got more paint brushes and together under the guidance of the young boy, they finished painting all the crosses.
The next day, the men sat on their benches. At four in the afternoon, the young boy walked down the road. He didn’t have wood, he didn’t have paint. The young boy walked hand in hand with his mother. He looked over at the men as he walked by and with a huge grin he waved, yelled thank you, and continued down the road. They walked pass the grocery store, the hardware store, and town hall. At the end of the road they take a right and hand in hand, mother and son, walked down the dirt path into the woods to the place where they could see Jesus.