Called to Serve: Apple Blossoms

by Roger Iverson

Mother, God rest her soul, was a bald faced liar. If she stubbed her toe she could also scream a chain of foul words blue enough to shame a sailor, but that’s not part of this story.

Mother was a liar and that’s where this story begins, when I was small. I can still see her face, thin for a Dane, framed in a blond halo of hair, over me, her fingers lightly tickling me, saying, and these were her exact words, she told me: “God made the apple trees blossom the day you were born. You are a special little boy, my special little boy.” She told me wonderful things would happen to me and I had better be prepared for miracles. She said I was destined.

And I believed Her!

So when the poor grades started coming home, in September of first grade, she said, “Don’t worry. God works wonders!” And when it was obvious I wasn’t reading, Mother said, “Be patient, Special One.” And when I couldn’t calculate or spell or write or stay in the lines, I remember she soothed, “It will come. God made the apple trees blossom the day you were born.” And I believed her.

But many apple crops ripened and rotted. Mother’s language became lies. School was a nightmare of embarrassment. Many times, alone and unable to rise to Her stories, I wanted to throw it all away, to quit, stop. My lowest was Special Ed. class, waiting for the middle school halls to clear so I could slip into the gray room to endure the gray teacher. The Heavens didn’t open and The BASSO PROFUNDO didn’t sing to my soul. I hated school. I hated me.

It wasn’t until high school when I first found success. This lead to that and those begat more until I graduated from there and graduated from here and graduated three times more.

While I grew, Mother began to teach. She invited me into her Special Ed. classroom. I wasn’t met with the gloomy, drooly faces I knew but by bright, inquisitive little humans, each one an expert in some small flake of learning, each one a star in Mother’s constellation. She coaxed me and coached me and sent me to more rooms and schools until I relinquished my visions of failure. And only I knew why Mother chose the Special class to teach.

Today, I bring my decade of disillusions into my own elementary class. When I see a small soul about to dissolve, I kneel down, eye to eye and whisper, “I have a secret: I knew a boy who was sadder than sad. And guess who that boy is today!” We two become a team, intent upon success. I protect my Dear Darling Ones from the failure I endured. That is my miracle I see a hundred times a day.

Mother has been gone these many years but I still see her face, thin for a Dane, framed in a blond halo of hair. She calls to me: “Son, you are special to Jonté and Samath and Uqnitaqua and Samnang and all the rest of your little ducklings in your little corner classroom.” Mother tells me I am exactly where I am supposed to be, making their fractured lives whole, working my service to the Lord. I see her smile knowingly as if to say, “See the wonders? Didn’t I tell you?”

…And I believe her.


  1. Paula Friedmann says

    Beautifully written and beautifully lived! Thank you for making my day, Roger!

  2. Ray and Rebecca says

    Your Mom isn’t the only one who thinks you are pretty special. We do, too! Thank you for opening your life to us, and for sharing yourself with all those young ones.

  3. Elaine Rodning says

    Roger, who would have guessed this was God training you for your very special ministry. You are a blessing to so many of us…especially me. Elaine rodning

Post a comment