Mary loved going to church. At the end of maturity for six-year-olds and the children’s sermon, Mary loved the stories. Though she didn’t fully realize she was getting too old, she listened attentively.

On the last Sunday in May, right before summer break, the story grabbed her attention more than normal. The preacher spoke about a lockbox and its held treasures. At story’s end, he opened a box, reached in, and gave each child a special gift—a cross with an inscription reading, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Excited, Mary took her cross home and placed it in a special place.

Daily she would hold it, read it, and remember the preacher’s lesson. One day, she took it out, held it and went out to play in her playhouse. Not before this day, but on this day, Mary’s playhouse revealed a doorknob at the back. Curious, knowing this was different, she reached tentatively and turned it. Slowly, she pulled the door open and stepped inside. Mary peered into a wonderland. The sky was bright and clear, trees stretched in full sail, their leaves clapping for Mary’s arrival. Flowers bloomed everywhere. Mary did not know where she was or what had happened, but the sight she beheld made her feel safe.

She thought, “A little farther I will go and then, I will return.” She picked a few daisies and listened to the birds sing their happy songs. She thought, “A little farther I will go and then, I will return.” A few more flowers, a few more steps, a few more thoughts of I will go and down the path she went. Then, she thought she heard a voice. Startled, she did not expect anyone. Mary knew all about strangers. She turned to go back to her playhouse. She realized she could not find her way and her cross was gone. Frightened more, tears began to well within. And then, the voice spoke. “Mary, do not fear, I will guide you home.” The stranger’s voice soothed her. “Find the white pearl and remember what you know. But do not search beyond the deep woods for there you will only find darkness.”

Six-year-olds do not know about such things, but Mary now felt older than six, too old and too big for a playhouse. She asked, “How will I find it?” “Find the box under the weeping willow tree. Inside will be what you always knew.” So off she went searching for the pearl.

But ah dear reader, space does not allow me to tell more of Mary’s adventures and misadventures in finding the white pearl, nay, your imagination must do what I cannot. But I am glad to tell you Mary found the pearl, held it tightly, and when she awoke from her dream, her children ran to her side saying, “Mommy, please tell us your dream.” Dear children, it was a most fantastic dream. And beginning her tale, she opened her hand, and remembered. There in her palm appeared a cross of white pearl which read, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Contact him at pgadeacon@gmail.com.

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