It would have been bad enough just being chubby, but he also had the reddest most unruly hair. It would spring back like a new diving board whenever he tried to comb it. He was seven years old and was missing his two front teeth. You can imagine how embarrassing these things could be to a small boy. He also had a very unusual name. They called him Wally Woggle.
Wally loved life! He enjoyed the wonderful feeling of climbing to the top of a tree. The smell of the flowers and the songs of the birds always delighted him. The joy he received from the love of his mother was all a boy could hope for, but, he was very shy and quiet. Life is not easy when you have a name like Wally Woggle.
He was a in the second grade at Thomas Jefferson School. He was in room seventeen, which was and had been for years, Mrs. Murphy’s room. Mrs. Murphy was a large jolly older lady with hair resembling an explosion in a mattress factory. Mrs. Murphy was a true master at teaching the second grade. She really loved the children and they knew it. She tried to be stern and harsh, but her eyes gave her away. One look at them and you knew she felt deeply for the children. They adored Mrs. Murphy. She was the greatest!
One day at the beginning of the morning, Mrs. Murphy addressed the class in her usual low, calm voice. “Boys and girls, next Thursday we are going to put on a Christmas play for the rest of the school.” The whole room was silent. It was so hard to believe that Mrs. Murphy’s class had been chosen to do the Christmas play! Following the silence came a loud roar of joy! “Now boys and girls, behave yourselves,” said Mrs. Murphy. “We will be doing the play called THE GOOD SHEPHERD this year.” she said. All of the sudden Wally leaped up from his desk! “THE GOOD SHEPHERD! Oh how I’d love to be the Good Shepherd.” Laughter shook the whole room. “The Good Shepherd?” roared Hank Mullons, “you look more like the good carrot who swallowed nine gallons of vanilla ice cream! Ha, ha, ha,” laughed Sally Sox,” yes, and Wally would probably get tangled up in this Shepherd’s robe and fall flat on his face in front of the whole audience.” “He would need to have his costume made at a tent shop so he could get one to fit him,” said Jimmy Jam. “Silence children,” demanded Mrs. Murphy. “This is the most disgraceful show of rudeness I have ever heard.” Indeed it was rude, and how it hurt Wally’s feelings. Can you imagine the heartbreak he must have felt at hearing his classmates laugh at him? He cried most the entire night.
The next day Mrs. Murphy posted a message on the current events bulletin board. It read, “Boys and girls ……… tomorrow we will have tryouts for THE GOOD SHEPHERD Christmas play.” Wally read the sign and in doing so, a small tear trickled down his chubby pink cheek. He really wanted to be THE GOOD SHEPHERD.
Later that night he told his mother what had happened. “Wally,” she said in her sweet tone. “Maybe you can be the Good Shepherd.” “But Mom,” said Wally they all laughed at me. It was awful.” “Who is to say you can or cannot be the Good Shepherd?” said Wally’s mother. “Mrs. Murphy, I guess,” said Wally. “Well then, we’re going to try, and I mean try very hard!” said Mrs. Woggle.
All that night Wally practiced being THE GOOD SHEPHERD. He tried and tried so hard that his dog, Barky didn’t even recognize his voice, and started yipping at him. “It’s alright Barky,” said Wally, It’s just me!
The next day Mrs. Murphy announced in her masterful voice, “Boys and girls, this afternoon we will be having tryouts for the Christmas play.” At the sound of those words Wally’s heart did a swan dive from his chest to his toes! THE GOOD SHEPHERD, whispered Wally from under his breath. Petunia Pancake, who was sitting beside him, and had ears like a supersonic radar, blurted across the room to Hank Mulllons, “Hey Hank, old carrot top still thinks he is going to be the Good Shepherd!” “Ha, ha, ha,” sounded the children once more. The pain and heartache started all over again for Wally. He bit his lip to fight back a tear.
The whole room was a madhouse that afternoon. Little people were darting everywhere, silently mumbling Christmas lines. “THE STAR FROM THE HILLS SHINES BRIGHTEST,” bellowed Hank Mullons. Everyone around him cheered! “Hank, you are terrific,” they said. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, was busy. All, except Wally, and where was Wally? He just sat in the corner and shook. He was so scared that his red hair stood straight out all over his head and turned blue on the ends. His teeth were chattering like a million skeleton bones. What was a small boy to do when he was so frightened? All of a sudden a sweet voice whispered calmly in Wally’s ear. “Do not be afraid,” it said. “You have tried the hardest and have wanted the most deeply to be the Good Shepherd. When the other kids laughed at you, not once did you say an angry word. You never gave up and YOU, Wally Woggle, know the true meaning of the Good Shepherd. It is with great pride and admiration that I inform you that of all the children here today, you, Wally Woggle, will be chosen as the Good Shepherd.” Wally was so surprised! He leaped to his feet and said, “Who….. who are you? and WHERE are you?” But it was too late. The little voice was gone. A small tear of understanding ran off the tip of Wally’s nose.
The silence was broken by the voice of Mrs. Murphy. “Now boys and girls,” she said. “Who wants to be first to try out for the Good Shepherd? “I do,” said Wally confidently, “Yes, I do.” At the sound of his voice No one laughed this time …not one single person. It was truly a miracle! Wally read like never before, and even Mrs. Murphy stood with her mouth hanging open. What had happened to quiet, shy Wally Woggle? Why had he changed so much? A wise man once said at Christmas time, for all the little boys and girls who REALLY believe, an Angel comes and grants their deepest wish. Perhaps this is what happened, or perhaps Wally Woggle just finally believed in himself.