The point of this short story is that different people see Jesus differently and have different relationships with him. The first patient in the asylum draws Jesus with three heads, which I posit is supposed to represent the trinity of the father, the son, and the Holy Ghost. Another patient draws him as “a white vulture with a halo above his head” and, to me, this means that she—this “teenage girl from Alabama”—sees Jesus as a pure-white and halo-holy figure that claims those that are at the end of their lives the way a vulture scavenges the dead.
The part of this short that stood out to me the most was the drawing from the old woman, a bunch of boxes, and how she asks the speaker “guess which one Jesus was hiding in.” This is interesting because it adds another layer of complexity to the point of the story—not only is Jesus seen differently by different people, but some people are lost to him; Shumate seems to be asking, does Jesus recognize the mentally distraught? Does he tend patiently to the patients in the Looney bin or does he look at them as a waste of time?
Another thing that captured my attention in this piece of flash prose is the ending where, after the speaker answers the old woman’s question by pointing to one of the boxes in her drawing with a “bulge in the middle,” everyone attending the arts-and-craft time at the asylum laughs. They could be doing this for two reasons: they simply find it funny that the old woman and the speaker is playing find-Jesus-in-the-boxes, or perhaps they all realize the irony of drawing Jesus in a place where is not present and find it humorous that the old woman has unearthed this truth.