Hello friends, and a very happy Easter weekend to you! I’m gonna do something new today, something I’ve never done before on a Saturday morning on THLG. Yet. I’m taking the day off! Yep. I’m really doing it. I had a post all ready to go about how stealing isn’t nice. Seriously. But the more I thought about it, stealing isn’t really a great fit with the spirit of Easter and all. I wrote the stealing post because I had something valuable stolen from me recently. I know who stole it, and there’s nothing I can do about it. And it’s really bugging me. And I like to write about what’s on my mind. But I’ll just save that “stealing” post for next week. (Bet you can’t wait.)
So I’ve still got a ton left to do to get ready for Easter around here, and you probably do too. I’m helping the big rabbit stuff the Easter baskets (ahem), baking yeast rolls, my favorite Brick Street Chocolate Cake and a to die for sweet potato souffle. And just like Little Red Riding Hood, I’m packing it all in a picnic basket and going over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house. Not really. I’m packing a basket, but I’m going to my sister’s, not grandmother’s house. I’m also tickling the ivories at church Easter morning, so I gotta go practice. Like now.
(If you’re new, I post recipe during the week, muse on the weekends.)
So anyway, a dear friend performed the dramatic piece Ragman in high school. That was nearly thirty years ago, and I still haven’t forgotten it. Last year I recorded it and shared it here. Today I’m sharing it again, enjoy. Wishing you a truly wonderful Easter with your friends and family. Allie XO
Ragman by Walter Wangerin, Jr., recorded by allie taylor
“I saw a strange sight. I stumbled upon a story most strange, like nothing in my life, my street sense, my sly tongue had ever prepared me for. Hush, child. Hush now, and I will tell it to you.
Even before the dawn one Friday morning I noticed a young man, handsome and strong, walking the alleys of our City. He was pulling an old cart filled with clothes both bright and new, and he was calling in a clear tenor voice: ‘Rags!’ Ah, the air was foul and the first light filthy to be crossed by such sweet music.
‘Rags! New rags for old! I take your tired rags! Rags!’
‘Now this is a wonder,’ I thought to myself, for the man stood six-feet-four, and his arms were like tree limbs, hard and muscular, and his eyes flashed intelligence. Could he find no better job than this, to be a ragman in the inner city?
I followed him. My curiosity drove me. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Soon the ragman saw a woman sitting on her back porch. She was sobbing into a handkerchief, sighing, and shedding a thousand tears. Her knees and elbows made a sad X. Her shoulders shook. Her heart was breaking.
The Ragman stopped his cart. Quietly, he walked to the woman, stepping round tin cans, dead toys, and Pampers.
‘Give me your rag,’ he said gently. ‘and I’ll give you another.’
He slipped the handkerchief from her eyes. She looked up, and he laid across her palm a linen cloth so clean and new that it shined. She blinked from the gift to the giver.
Then, as he began to pull his cart again, the Ragman did a strange thing: he put her stained handkerchief to his own face; and then he began to weep, to sob as grievously as she had done, his shoulders shaking. Yet she was left without a tear.
‘This is a wonder,’ I breathed to myself, and I followed the sobbing Ragman like a child who cannot turn away from mystery.
‘Rags! Rags! New Rags for old!”
In a little while, when the sky showed grey behind the rooftops and I could see the shredded curtains hanging out black windows, the Ragman came upon a girl whose head was wrapped in a bandage, whose eyes were empty. Blood soaked her bandage. A single line of blood ran down her cheek.
Now the tall Ragman looked upon this child with pity, and he drew a lovely yellow bonnet from his cart.
‘Give me your rag,’ he said, tracing his own line on her cheek, ‘and I’ll give you mine.’
The child could only gaze at him while he loosened the bandage, removed it, and tied it to his own head. The bonnet he set on hers. And I gasped at what I saw: for with the bandage went the wound! Against his brow it ran a darker, more substantial blood — his own!
‘Rags! Rags! I take old rags!’ cried the sobbing, bleeding, strong, intelligent Ragman.
The sun hurt both the sky, now, and my eyes; the Ragman seemed more and more to hurry.
‘Are you going to work?’ he asked a man who leaned against a telephone pole. The man shook his head. The Ragman pressed him: ‘Do you have a job?”
‘Are you crazy?’ sneered the other. He pulled away from the pole, revealing the right sleeve of his jacket — flat, the cuff stuffed into the pocket. He had no arm.
‘So,’ said the Ragman. ‘Give me your jacket, and I’ll give you mine.’
So much quiet authority in his voice!
The one-armed man took off his jacket. So did the Ragman — and I trembled at what I saw: for the Ragman’s arm stayed in its sleeve, and when the other put it on, he had two good arms, thick as tree limbs; but the Ragman had only one.
‘Go to work,’ he said.
After that he found a drunk, lying unconscious beneath an army blanket, an old man, hunched, wizened, and sick. He took that blanket and wrapped it round himself, but for the drunk he left new clothes.
And now I had to run to keep up with the Ragman. Though he was weeping uncontrollably, and bleeding freely at the forehead, pulling his cart with one arm, stumbling for drunkenness, falling again and again, exhausted, old, old, and sick, yet he went with terrible speed. On spider’s legs he skittered through the alleys of the City, this mile and the next, until he came to its limits, and then he rushed beyond.
I wept to see the change in this man. I hurt to see his sorrow. And yet I needed to see where he was going in such haste, perhaps to know what drove him so.
The little old Ragman — he came to a landfill. He came to the garbage pits. And I waited to help him in what he did but I hung back, hiding. He climbed a hill. With tormented labor he cleared a little space on that hill. Then he sighed. He lay down. He pillowed his head on a handkerchief and a jacket. He covered his bones with an army blanket. And he died.
Oh how I cried to witness that death! I slumped in a junked car and wailed and mourned as one who has no hope — because I had come to love the Ragman. Every other face had faded in the wonder of this man, and I cherished him; but he died. I sobbed myself to sleep.
I did not know — how could I know? — that I slept through Friday night and Saturday and its night too.
But then, on Sunday morning, I was wakened by a violence.
Light — pure, hard, demanding light — slammed against my sour face, and I blinked, and I looked, and I saw the first wonder of all. There was the Ragman, folding the blanket most carefully, a scar on his forehead, but alive! And, besides that, healthy! There was no sign of sorrow or age, and all the rags that he had gathered shined for cleanliness.
Well, then I lowered my head and, trembling for all that I had seen, I myself walked up to the Ragman. I told him my name with shame, for I was a sorry figure next to him. Then I took off all my clothes in that place, and I said to him with dear yearning in my voice: ‘Dress me.”
He dressed me. My Lord, he put new rags on me, and I am a wonder beside him. The Ragman, the Ragman, the Christ!”
Oh, such a beautiful story. How I loved reading it this Easter morning!
Linda Jenkins says
Allie, once again you have moved me to tears. It is 7:49 on Easter morning. I have been keeping vigil by my mother’s hospital bed daily. I will return in a few hours. I was tired, but now I feel renewed, for you have reminded me that I can do all things through Christ. All will be right with His grace. Thank you.
nancy mcmahan says
Auntie M says
Oh, dear Allie, how you have blessed me!! A glorious Easter surprise for us from Him Who restored us and removed our rags!
Nancy Wildes says
A beautiful Easter message, thank you.
Christy Smith says
I have not heard that story before. Beautiful and true. Happy Easter!
Nancy Hammett says
This is a beautiful post thank you for the post. Happy Easter to your family love you’ll.
I had not heard it before, either. Just beautiful.
Thank you for sharing that, it was beautiful!! Happy Resurrection!!
Aunt pinkie achor says
Oh, my, Allie – what a wonderful story. A perfect ending to what has been a very happy day – making this the Perfect Easter! Thanks so much for sending this! You’ve touched my heart!
Karen @ On the Banks of Salt Creek says
Wonderful. I love the different ways that God’s children tell His story.
May many read, believe and become children of God.
That was a beautiful story! Thank you Allie!I hope you all had a wonderful Easter.
Cindy Oliver says
Such a powerful story told so beautifully. Thank you for sharing the audio, it is so moving!
Barbara Child says
A picture is worth a thousand words. You’ve given us a picture of Jesus! May it open people’s eyes!
Thanks so much Barbara, I love the way Walter Wangerin wrote this. It really is a beautiful parable.
ah hum…sweet potato soufflé recipe?
OK Sandi, I’ll work on that….:)
Linda Jenkins says
I am reading this a year later, and again this story has moved me to tears. I have been emotionally and physically exhausted for weeks, struggling to find my energy. Once again, I am renewed by Christ through you. So glad you chose this story rather than the one about stealing. May the blessing of Christ be felt by all. Thank you, Allie.
Dear Linda, Glad to hear this was an encouragement to you my friend. I’m hoping spring and sunshine will give us all some renewed energy. I find when it’s so dark during the winter months I really struggle with energy, and staying “up” etc. XO
So very moving. Again. Why not repeat this every year, Allie? It is a classic. XOXO
Happy Easter, Allie! Hope you and your family enjoy a special weekend. ?? xo
Thank you so much Carina. We had a little Easter brunch here on Saturday morning for just our boys and then headed two hours south to RI on Sunday for an Easter egg hunt and Easter dinner at my sister Susan’s. It was a really nice day, didn’t get home ’til 10 p.m. Getting out the door to school on Monday a.m. was the challenge! I hope you and your family had a wonderful Easter weekend too. xo
Nancy Hammettk says
Thank you for sharing this post. Happy. Easter.
Thank you Nancy, I hope you and your family had a wonderful Easter also!
Robin @ Simply Southern Baking says
What a beautiful representation of what Jesus did for us. Thanks for sharing Allie. xo
Hey Robin, thanks so much for dropping by. I hope you and you family had a wonderful Easter! xo
As soon as I saw the title of your post I was brought back to high school. ? Your writing, as always, is beautiful and touching. Thank you for sharing yourself in a way that makes a difference for so many people!
We were on our way south to RI for Easter dinner w/the Ryder clan when I saw this. Absolutely made my day to hear from you, friend. I didn’t do justice to yours, and I can still hear you now. Many thanks for the kind words, means a lot to me. Love to you and yours.
Hey thanks for dropping by Marye, hope you and your family had a wonderful Easter!
Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary says
Beautiful post, Allie! I’ve never heard “the Ragman” before, but it is very touching! Thanks for sharing, dear! I hope you and your family had a beautiful Easter, dear! Virtual hugs your way! XOXO
Thanks so much for dropping by my friend, I loved hearing about your laid back Easter on your blog. We headed south to my sister’s for the egg hunt, then Easter dinner. I sure was glad to be a guest and not the hostess this time around. XO
mandi Korn says
Beautiful…..and I am more than curious about your “stealing” post.
Bonjour mon amie! Tu as toujours des belles histoires à nous raconter! J’espère que tu as eu une bonne fête de Pâques ! xoxo