Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Canada (01/29/09)
TITLE: Toronto Snow Prints
By Gina Woods
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I choked on my Timmies coffee, reading those huge words plastered across the TTC bus. I’m entranced as snowflakes land in slow motion on the horrible words, NO GOD.
“Miss, are you boarding?” The bus driver snaps.
I deposit my token and collapse in the first empty seat.
Do people really believe we can stop worrying if there is no God? I’ll surely worry much more! Who will carry me over rough roads? And miracles—There can be no miracles without God!
“Guess they don’t think Christians enjoy life,” one passenger comments. Another pokes fun, “You mean The Leafs have been playing such great hockey without divine intervention!” The chatter fades as my mother’s phone call earlier today replays in my mind.
“Dear, your father’s very sick. The doctors say he needs emergency surgery. He’s very weak. Please pray!”
So I’m headed for the only place I can think to go right now—church. “I need a miracle right now, God!”
I look up and notice a man across the bus looking so sad.
We reach the bus terminal on Yonge Street, the longest street in the world. I exit without looking back and walk east to St. Michael’s Cathedral on Church Street. The snow falls faster.
Entering the church, I feel instant warmth, a fleece blanket snatched from a hot dryer. At the front of the church I light a candle and kneel to pray.
“Dear God, be with my father, my mother, the doctors. Send your blessing upon them. Restore my father’s health so that he may continue to serve you, God. We need a miracle, God.”
I’ve never prayed this hard.
“And forgive those who don’t believe in you, who say you do not exist. Open their eyes that they may see.”
I’m not sure how long I’ve been praying. Time passes, marked only by the pain in my knees from the hard wood jabbing through the time worn padding of the kneeler.
“Thank you for always walking with me, God. For carrying me when I’m too weak to make it on my own. Amen.”
I stand to leave, but hear crying at the back of the church. It’s the sad man from the bus. I try to leave unnoticed, but he looks up and grabs my hand. I’m no good with words, so I just touch his shoulder.
With tears flowing he pleads, “There IS a God, right?”
“Yes, Sir. Certainly!” I pray I am right, for both our sakes.
The bus ride home is much quieter, with only a few passengers. Exhausted, I rest my head against the back of the seat and close my eyes. A shrill beep from my Blackberry sends me diving for my purse.
The sad man from the church is sitting beside me. When did he get back on the bus? He looks different now. His eyes are no longer sad. He smiles and I don’t want to look away, when I hear a second beep.
YOU HAVE 1 NEW TEXT MESSAGE. It’s from mom. I click VIEW NOW and swallow hard.
“NO! It can’t be!” I’m crying. A comforting hand touches my shoulder.
Blurry eyes scramble to find the VIEW NOW button. Click.
“Sorry…bad at this. Finger bumped send button. He’s fine. Gone home. A miracle!”
Gasp! “Oh, Thank you, God! Thank you!”
The CBC Radio evening news pulses through the speakers. “The buzz around Toronto today is those anti-God ads popping up on buses. But don’t worry, the Toronto United Church is setting things straight with a counter-ad reading, ‘There probably IS a God. So stop worrying and enjoy your life!’”
My stop is next—Bay Street. The once sad man gets off ahead of me, snow crunching under his boots. He offers a steady arm and glowing smile as we walk together up College Street to my apartment.
“Thank you for your words at the church—for believing.”
I turn to say you’re welcome and goodbye, but he’s already gone.
From my apartment window, my eyes glide over the smooth drifts of snow, undisturbed except for my path home. My eyes fix on something wonderfully odd and my heart swells as I marvel at the solitary set of perfect snow prints embroidering the edge of College Street.
“There’s DEFINITELY a God. He carried me, once again, where I could not go alone!”
Official website of the Canadian Atheist Bus Campaign (http://atheistbus.ca)
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