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Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul: Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit (Chicken Soup for the Soul)

Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul: Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit (Chicken Soup for the Soul)

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. There Are No Coincidences If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NIV For three days a fierce winter storm had traveled 1,500 miles across the North Pacific from Alaska, packing gale-force winds and torrential rains. In the Sierra Nevadas to the east, the snow was piling up and would offer great skiing once the storm had passed. In the foothills of the Sierras in the town of Grass Valley, California, the streets were flooded, and in some parts of town, the power was off where trees had blown down. At the small church, the heavy rain and high winds beat against the windows with a violence that Father OÆMalley had never before heard. In his tiny bedroom, OÆMalley was laboriously writing SundayÆs sermon by candlelight. Out of the darkness, the phone in his office rang, shattering his concentration. He picked up the candle, and with his hand cupped in front of it, ambled down the hall in a sphere of dim flickering light. As he picked up the phone, a voice quickly asked, ôIs this Father OÆMalley?ö ôYes.ö ôIÆm calling from the hospital in Auburn,ö said a concerned female voice. ôWe have a terminally ill patient who is asking us to get someone to give him his last rites. Can you come quickly?ö ôIÆll try my best to make it,ö OÆMalley answered. ôBut the river is over its banks, and trees are blown down all over town. ItÆs the worst storm IÆve seen in all the years IÆve been here. Look for me within two hours.ö The trip was only 30 miles, but it would be hard going. The headlights on Father OÆMalleyÆs 20-year-old car barely penetrated the slashing rain, and where the winding road crossed and recrossed the river in a series of small bridges, trees had blown down across the riverÆs banks. But for some reason, there was always just enough room for Father OÆMalley to make his way around them. His progress was slow and cautious, but he continued on toward the hospital. Not a single vehicle passed him during his long, tense journey. It was way past midnight, and anyone else out on a night like this would also have to be on an emergency mission. Finally, in the near distance, the lights of the small hospital served as a beacon to guide OÆMalley for the last 500 yards, and he hoped he had arrived in time. He parked behind the three other cars in the parking lot to avoid as much wind as possible, slipped into the right-hand seat and awkwardly wrestled his way into his raincoat before stepping out into the wind-whipped deluge. With his tattered Bible tucked deep inside his overcoat pocket, OÆMalley forced the car door open, stepped out and then leaned into the wind. Its power almost bowled him over, and he was nearly blown away from the hospital entrance. Once inside, the wind slammed the hospital door shut behind him, and as he was shaking the water from his coat, he heard footsteps headed his way. It was the night nurse. ôIÆm so glad you could get here,ö she said. ôThe man I called you about is slipping fast, but he is still coherent. HeÆs been an alcoholic for years, and his liver has finally given out. HeÆs been here for a couple of weeks this time and hasnÆt had one single visitor. He lives up in the woods, and no one around here knows much about him. He always pays his bill with cash and doesnÆt seem to want to talk much. WeÆve been treating him off and on for the last couple of years, but this time itÆs as though heÆs reached some personal decision and has given up the fight.ö ôWhatÆs your patientÆs name?ö OÆMalley asked. ôThe hospital staff has just been calling him Tom,ö she replied. In the soft night-light of the room, TomÆs thin sallow countenance looked ghostlike behind a scraggly beard. It was as though he had stepped over the threshold and his life was already gone. ôHello, Tom. IÆm Father OÆMalley. I was passing by and thought we could talk a bit before you go to sleep for the night.ö


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