“What is man that You are mindful of him,
the son of man that You care for him?
You made him a little lower than the angels;
You crowned him with glory and honor
and put everything under his feet.”
“Why do you find us so interesting?” Prissie asked, lifting the edge of the plaid blanket spread over her lap.
Koji sat beside her on a row of straw bales in the barn. “New reasons appear with each coming day.”
She tucked them back in, then called softly to the barn cats. By the time they each had a purring lapful, the Pomeroy menfolk arrived. Grandpa Pete led the march, a hatchet propped on his shoulder. “Choose wisely, boys! How many do we need, son?”
Jayce Pomeroy kicked snow from his boots. “Three should do it.”
Prissie’s oldest brother Tad followed with a stack of newspapers under his arm. Neil, Beau, Zeke, and Jude hustled in behind, and their dad slid the barn door shut.
“I’ll kick up the heaters,” said their dad.
“Yes, please!” Neil exclaimed. “This is a shirtsleeves job.”
“Sure, sure,” Mr. Pomeroy replied, giving Prissie and Koji a wink in passing.
The young angel quietly asked, “What is the purpose of this ceremony?”
“It’s supposed to be for food.” Prissie explained, “That old stable is insulated, so it works like our root cellar. Grandpa has crates in there for squash and our best keeping apples. We dip into the supply all winter long.”
“But the purpose is not food?” Koji checked.
“See for yourself.”
Tad and Neil emerged from the storeroom, each grappling an enormous Hubbard squash. Beau followed, helping their little brothers roll another monster. They managed a wobbling path to where their father was spreading newspaper on the floor.
“For normal squash, we can use a butcher knife. But these are too much, even for our big cleaver.” Prissie lowered her voice. “I’m almost positive Grandpa plants these squash just so they can take a hatchet to them.”
“I see.” Koji tickled a striped barn cat under her chin. “This will be a display of prowess.”
Prissie giggled. “And after all the manful bashing, you and I can help stew, mash, and stock the freezer.”
Neil jockeyed for the right to have the first go, but tradition held firm. It was more fun to watch the younger boys demonstrate how stubborn the squash was before letting the older boys drop the axe. Jackets were shed. Sleeves were rolled up. There was a twinkle in Grandpa Pete’s eye as he offered the hatchet to six-year-old Jude.
The ceremonial first whack skipped harmlessly off the tough outer shell.
“Not bad, buddy,” his dad soothed.
“Next time for sure,” said Tad.
Zeke’s enthusiasm wasn’t any more effective, but Beau did better. The fifteen-year-old wedged the hatchet into the squash, where it stuck fast. He had to plant his boot against the stubborn thing in order to yank it free.
“Thanks for that, little brother,” Neil said, beckoning with both hands for the hatchet.
Koji smiled and said, “You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet.”
Prissie’s brows arched. “I really don’t think the Bible was talking about squash.”
“No. The passage speaks of brothers.”
“Those belonging to Jesus.”
She frowned thoughtfully. “I know Joseph and Mary had more children. So Jesus was like our Tad, the eldest in a big family.”
With a broad swing, Neil drove his hatchet through the weak point Beau had created. There was a hollow crack, and the tough rind split, revealing vivid orange flesh. Jayce took over, breaking the squash into smaller chunks while Grandpa Pete scraped away most of the seeds. Then another squash was rolled into position, and Tad took careful aim.
His younger brothers whooped when he split it neatly on the first try.
Koji picked up where he’d left off in the second chapter of Hebrews.
“Both the One who makes men holy and
those who are made holy are of the same family.
So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”
“And sisters,” Prissie added primly.
“Indeed.” Koji kept his eyes on the continued demolition of squashes while he recited the remainder of the paragraph. “Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Heb. 2:14–15).
Prissie did her part in applauding her brothers’ triumph, then jostled Koji with her elbow. “Which is just another way of saying that Jesus is the best big brother that ever was.”
“Or will be. World without end,” concluded Koji. “Amen and amen.”