Monday, March 19, 2018

Hope for the Hopeless – Honorable Mention

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

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A clock strikes nearby, chimes echoing across snowy streets. “Christmas Eve,” I mutter, stuffing my blanket away and limping into the public restrooms. “What a joke.”The reflection in the mirror makes matters worse: a mess of gray hair, gray stumps where teeth have rotted and gray clothes ingrained with filth.

The air outside is frigid and I loiter in the restrooms until a cop moves me on. I try a department store next but a security guard shadows my every move. Disgusted I head down Main Street and pause by a church. Rediscover the Magic of Christmas, a banner proclaims. All Welcome.”

Carols waft from the interior as I mount the steps. God and I aren’t on talking terms these days but I can handle a little religion if it means a warm room.

“Good morning, sir.””

A blue-rinsed granny hands me a program and I sense her unease.

“The display starts on the left over there. Just follow the signs from booth to booth.””

The first scene is a life-size Mary, head bowed as a mighty angel hovers in the sky. A giant poster edged in gold tells the story. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.”

A man touches my elbow. “Is there anything I can help you with?” ”

His expression says it all.

I turn and stomp out of the church, snow crunching beneath ancient shoes. “I’ll sit right here,” I mutter, slumping against the front wall of the cathedral. “That’ll teach them.”

Moments later, I see a figure approaching. He looks to be in his thirties, swarthy, with hair dreadlocked into coarse ropes. I’ve seen him before – somewhere – sometime. As I try and place him, he stops in front of me. “Do you mind if I join you?

No one has ever asked me that.

He drops down next to me and swings his backpack to the front. “I’ve got some hot lamb sandwiches.” He hauls out a package and hands it to me. “Open it up while I get the juice out.”

I’m curious and suspicious, but hunger wins the battle. I shovel one sandwich after another down my throat. “So what do you want?” I ask.

“To spend some time with you.”

I laugh, sarcastically. “No really. What are you after?”

“I’m just passing through.”

“Where’re you from?”

“Here and there.”

I let out a loud burp after a swig of fizzy grape juice. I wish it was wine, warming my innards and dulling the pain but it’s better than nothing. Leaning back against the wall, I look across at my benefactor. “So what’s the catch? You doing a newspaper article on drunken bums?”

His eyes smile as he answers. “I told you, I came to spend some time with you.”

Who is this man? My mind runs through family members, people I haven’t seen for years. Could he be a nephew or a cousin or an old acquaintance?

“I’m none of those.”His voice is strong and his eyes seem to penetrate my soul.

How did he know what I was thinking? I stare at him, perplexed. “What’s your name?”


I shake my head. “You look familiar but I can’t place you.”

He reaches out a hand and as he places it on my shoulder, I notice a deep scar, a sunken gouge by his wrist. “What did you do to your hand?”

“An old injury. Happened years ago.”

His touch is tender and warmth pours like an electric current, spreading through skin, flooding my mind and soul.

“Who are you?” I ask again, my voice breaking at the absolute acceptance and love I’m experiencing.

“We met when you were ten. At the altar in your mother’s church.”

I close my eyes and something shifts beneath my grime and brokenness. That was the day I gave my life to God. An incredible sense of awe overwhelms me. He isn’t … he can’t be … I open my eyes but he’s gone. The only thing left is a lamb sandwich and a can of grape juice lying crooked in the snow.

“Lord,” I whisper. “Was that really you?” ”

The wonder of the Christmas story bursts afresh in my heart and God’s promise burns like a cleansing fire. He will save his people from their sins.

I bow my head and begin to pray.

Debbie Roome

Debbie Roome was born and raised in Zimbabwe and later spent fifteen years in South Africa. In 2006 she moved to New Zealand with her husband and five children. Writing has been her passion since the age of six and she loves to write stories that touch people’s lives and turn them towards God. Her recent writing achievements include the publication of her first novel, Embracing Change, in September 2010 and placing second in the Faithwriter’s Page Turner Competition in December 2010.
Author of Embracing Change

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