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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Pastor (11/30/06)

TITLE: The Pastor's Gift
By dub W


The summer was one of heat and smells. Hannah often sat by the cloth-covered windows and watched the ships in the harbor. The rank odors of the fishermen’s nets crept up to the house, overpowering the sweet smells of the lush, colorful flowers dotting the ground. Mr. Mason would occasionally come into the house holding the ends of his shirttail together cradling masses of berries which Mrs. McGrew quickly separated and placed in jars to be placed beneath the stones of the fireplace footing. Mrs. McGrew was Hannah’s adopted mother and Mr. Mason’s sister.

In the latter part of summer a young man in a broad hat visited Mason’s house. He carried several books around and while he didn’t stay with them, he did conduct meetings around the fireplace of the little house. Many others knocked on Mr. Mason’s door and asked to see the young man, some were locals, and some were strangers. Mrs. McGrew told Hannah that the man was a pastor, a term Hannah recognized and she figured he was a man of religion since he spoke of Jesus and God – names Mrs. McGrew often spoke about.

One afternoon, the young man knocked on the door. Hannah assumed her usual place near the window as Mrs. McGrew approached the door. Normally, Mrs. McGrew would not allow anyone in when Mr. Mason was gone; she seemed to trust the man called pastor.

“Good day, mum. Mr. Mason asked me to come by; I met him in the village just now. He wishes me to instruct the girl.”

Hannah could feel the hairs on her neck bristle. Mr. Mason had never allowed an adult man to speak to her directly. Though, she often watched men working while she played with the other children of Strawberry Banke. Her instruction had always been from Mrs. McGrew or one of the other village women.

“Aye, Mason told me of his idea this morning, I did not expect him to find you so soon.”

“Providence of the day, mum, I was bound for Portsmouth.”

“Come, child.” Mrs. McGrew took Hannah’s hand and drew her to the table. Hannah raised her eyes when the man approached.

“Hannah,” Mrs. McGrew said seating herself on the bench next to Hannah, “this is brother Richard, a Christian pastor. Mr. Mason has asked him to show you some parts of the Bible.”

A small tear escaped from in the corner of her eye, but Hannah spoke only to Mrs. McGrew. “I am grateful to Mr. Mason.”

Brother Richard pulled up a small bench and sat down with his books. “You can read, yes?”

Hannah nodded her head without looking at him.

“Hannah,” interrupted Mrs. McGrew, “Mr. Mason will allow you to speak to the pastor.”

Her communication with adult men had been so limited, that Hannah didn’t quite know how to react.

“I have something for you,” he said, “this is a collection we are putting together, of the Psalms, written to make them easy to sing.” He handed her a small sheaf of papers.

The pastor placed another page on the pile. “And, this is my favorite. Will you read it to me?”

Hannah took the paper and rose to stand by the window to use the morning sun, she read softly, “The Lord to me a shepherd is, want therefore shall not I. He in the folds of tender grass doth cause me down to lie” (Psalm 23. Bay Psalm Book. 1640).

“That’s beautiful, Hannah.” Mrs. McGrew placed her hand gently on Hannah’s shoulder.

Hannah could feel the tears welling in her eyes. She raised her apron to her nose and dabbed at her eyes, she didn’t like revealing such feelings.

“She reads very well, Mrs. McGrew. You have done a wonderful job with her. She will be a strong advocate for the church as God’s kingdom grows. How many years does she have now?”

Mrs. McGrew looked at Hannah. “Fourteen soon.”

“I will talk to Mr. Mason, we will baptize her into Christ’s church after her day.”

Hannah’s mind raced with questions. I will be baptized? She knew that the thrill and happiness she was feeling was somehow a gift from God.

The pastor bowed to Hannah as he departed.

Hannah’s heart felt light; the smells of summer seemed pure, and a cool breeze blew through the window opening. Then she heard herself whisper. “Thank you pastor.”

Mrs. McGrew smiled.

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Jan Ackerson 12/08/06
This is gorgeous! It really evokes another time and antoher place, with a masterful touch with dialog and description. I did NOT want this one to end. And the translation of the 23rd Psalm in an unfamiliar version was so refreshing--like hearing it for the first time.
Shanti Singh12/08/06
I really enjoyed this. You did an excellent job with characterization. Beautiful!
Amy Nicholson12/08/06
This is very impressive. Excellent descriptions and story line. And the characters, well, don't we just love them already! Would you consider expanding this into a book? I'm sure everyone who reads this will be shouting, "More!"
william price12/09/06
Excellent story, well crafted,written and minstered. I love stories by the sea or in snow. Whatever, I know. Anyway, if I had to leave one comment though, I am not a big fan of the word smell. Its one of those multi edged words, and even though I knew you used to discribe the contrasts of scents and odors of the summer,I think it is the weakest of the choices you had to use here, especially by itself. That being said (which is just a personal thing with me)this is masterful writing and story telling. God bless.
Joanne Sher 12/11/06
You painted a portrait - nay, a masterpiece - with your words. Your dialogue was also fabulous - it felt so very authentic and was delightful to read. Wonderful.
Cheri Hardaway 12/11/06
Pulled me right into another place and another time. A beautiful read. Very skillful writing. And I also loved the unfamiliar version of Psalm 23. Blessings, Cheri
Sandra Petersen 12/11/06
I especially liked the opening paragraph. You are a master at describing the environs of Hannah's life. I could almost smell the fishing nets. I, too, liked the authenticity the translation of the 23rd Psalm lent the entire story.

Great job, as usual, Dub.
Donna Powers 12/11/06
Peaceful, calm and evocative. I felt swept back to the time of the article. I loved this. Thanks for sharing it.
Lynda Schultz 12/11/06
Fascinating. I would have loved to have understood more of the history of this time. What a different world so wonderfully described.
Marty Wellington 12/13/06
Beautifully painted landscape of a time and place so different from our own. I loved every word of it (except, like William, maybe "smell") (he he). Thanks for taking us on a lovely journey to the sea.
Betty Castleberry12/13/06
This was a good read, with easy flow and believable dialogue. I like Hannah's excitement when she learns she will be baptized. Well done.
Catrina Bradley 12/13/06
Please write more of this story - like maybe an entire book!!
Sara Harricharan 12/14/06
This was wonderfully written. I enjoyed reading it, and the character of Hannah. It seemed a little confusing in the beginning, Not sure if that's just me-but I had to read it back a few times. Otherwise, I liked the story overall, especially the end.
(Thanks for commenting on An Amber-eyed Adventure)