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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Hope (05/04/06)

TITLE: Chaplain


Leon’s Story

Hope is a little word with a big meaning . The Webster’s dictionary defines hope as “ to cherish a desire with anticipation”. I believe Leon defined “hope” best when he taught me what it meant for him.

It had just begun to pour down rain when I drove into the driveway. My headlights illuminated that familiar blue house with grey shutters. Skampy, Leon’s orange cat froze for a split second before making a mad dash under the porch, safe from the big bright eyed monster again. Skampy was afraid of everything. I had been coming to visit Leon routinely for 6 months now and still that cat won’t come near me.

I got to the door and as usual, Leon was yelling for all he was worth “come in the door is open!” I walked in and there was Leon in his favorite recliner sitting comfortable in the corner of the room, with one light burning. “Leon, how have you been?” I always began with that greeting, more so out of habit that anything else. He struggled on his elbows to sit up in his big fluffy chair, he had lost more weight since I saw him last week. “Ah, not too bad, my side is killing me though,” he pointed to a another tumor that had begun to grow. “Darn things are making it hard to enjoy life!”

Leon has lived alone for over ten years since his wife died of cancer. His two son’s have abandoned him due to his parenting style. All he has now is that big orange cat and a few hospice nurses a social worker and myself to keep him company. “Leon, it amazes me how you seem to keep yourself going” I said, hoping to get Leon started on the subjects of life and faith. He just grunted and mumbled weakly, ”I am sorry, what did you say Leon” I inquired. “I said, I don’t have a choice, unless dying is a choice.” The words Leon spoke startled me, I quickly gained my composure. “ Do you think dying is a choice Leon?” I asked bravely. His frail arms moved beneath his blanket and he took hold of the armrests to pull himself to the edge of the seat, a tinge of seriousness crossed his face “When you have nothing to live for it is!”.

Lightening flashed and thunder shook the small blue house as if God himself staged the dramatic event. The light flickered, but didn’t go out. Leon paused, apparently as surprised as I was with the timing of it all. My mind was rushing to come up with something to say, something to help Leon focus on hope. Of all the scripture reading, prayers and counsel, I just couldn’t believe that Leon would think such thoughts. We prayed for God’s presence, read about God’s provision and talked for hours about our eternal home in glory and then it hit me.

How could I have been so blind? How could I have been so absorbed, so routine. Leon, has heard my prayers for him, my Biblical counsel and my words of encouragement. There is one thing Leon has not heard from me or anyone else in a very long time, “Leon, I love you.” Leon began to cry and I cried with him as the single lamp protected us from the dark.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Paynter05/14/06
Nice piece. Watch your tenses in the 2nd paragraph (I'd begin with that paragraaph, by the way - no need for the introduction), and keep an eye open for the odd punctution lapse. But a well-written, tight story.
Edy T Johnson 05/15/06
This is very good writing. I could see what the narrator is seeing, and appreciate the strain in the conversation. And, I really relish the ending! God bless you!