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My short life of crime

March 17, 2016
By Joyce Schenk , Westfield Republican

In my tenth summer, I briefly became a thief.

This was no ordinary stealing adventure. I had many years of Sunday School classes behind me. I knew all about coveting.

The lessons gave no-nonsense instructions that you should never covet your neighbor's sheep or cow or goats.or something like that.

Well, to my credit, I had no interest whatever in my neighbor's sheep or cows or goats. But, unfortunately, I had developed a strong interest in a shiny red toy truck owned by a kid who lived around the corner.

I only knew him as Herby. But, from the looks of all the toys abandoned in his front yard, he was a spoiled little boy who got anything he wanted.

I passed by Herby's house almost daily as I went to the store or ran errands for my Mom.

And, every day, I longed for that shiny red truck, carelessly left in the grass by the fence in Herby's yard.

One day, I convinced myself that Herby had no right to such a toy. It should have a home with someone who would take care of it and love it. Someone like me.

I parked my bike a few houses away and slipped back to Herby's yard.

Then I crept along the fence to the spot where the little red truck lay forgotten in the grass.

With shaking hands, I picked it up, wrapped it in my shirt, darted back to my bike and sped for home.

That afternoon, I played with the shiny red truck, moving it along the roads and hills I had created behind Mom's lilac bushes.

But, for some reason, something just didn't feel right about what I was doing. There was a knot in my stomach and I imagined Mom's voice saying quietly, "Joycie, where did you get that new truck? Is there something you need to tell me?"

That night, I dreamed about my Sunday School teacher, my mother and the neighborhood kids. I was the oldest and they looked up to me. And, all through the dreams, shiny red trucks were chasing me wherever I went.

The next day, I knew what I had to do. I put the truck in my bike basket and rode over to Herby's house.

Fortunately, there was no one around, so I quickly replaced the truck where I had found it, beside the fence.

As I rode back home, I felt as if a weight had been lifted.

From that day onward, every time I was tempted to take something that didn't belong to me, I saw that shiny red truck and once again felt that knot in my stomach. And I could almost hear my Mom whispering, "Joycie, is there something you want to tell me?"

The experience ended my short career in crime. And I've given up coveting for life, whether it's my neighbor's cows, sheep, goats, or shiny red trucks.



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