Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Beginning and End (04/16/09)
By Christina Banks
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Rachel gave a hesitant wave to a group of five of her classmates as they entered the sanctuary and found a seat across from her. Stashing their full backpacks under the pew in front of them, they nodded back. The girls’ eyes were red and puffy, much like Rachel’s, but there was a hopelessness in their expression that broke Rachel’s heart.
A sniff drew Rachel’s attention back to her companion. Matthew sat next to her, his eyes vacant as he stared toward the front of the church. It was almost a miracle that Matthew was in a church building at all. In the three years that she had known him, he had wanted nothing to do with religion, church and especially God. Yet, two days ago, it was Matthew that suggested that they attend the service together. It was Matthew that gave her a ride to the church after school, and it was Matthew that had taken them the night before to visit the man who had impacted both of their lives.
Mr. Allan James, geometry teacher, driving instructor, mentor and friend.
Rachel thought about the older gentleman, his white hair hanging over his collar as he drew on the chalk board. She smiled as she remembered the prank that he had pulled on them the week before in class, giving them an “unsolvable” problem. Matthew and Rachel, always in competition for top of the class, had worked for hours on the equations and two column proofs. Finally, putting their heads together, the two were able to come up with an answer that impressed the wise teacher.
“You two might figure this out yet,” he had said, beaming at them with that mischievous twinkle in his eye.
It was that same twinkle that he had used the first day of Rachel’s drivers education class. She had been fortunate enough to get in his group, but unfortunate enough to be at the top of his list alphabetically.
“Ok, Rachel, get behind the wheel. Let’s go to McDonalds. I really need a coffee.” So without any driving instruction whatsoever, she took the car out onto the road only fifteen minutes after arriving at the class. Somehow, they all survived.
A smile tugged at the corner of her lips as Rachel thought about Mr. James during school spirit week. The man had temporarily dyed his hair in the school colors. Unfortunately, it took about two weeks for the two blue stripes to wash out. Rachel was sure the year book would be full of Mr. James’ “skunk look,” as he had called it.
It was Mr. James’ faith that had endeared him to Rachel more than anything else. The man, who had taught for over a decade in the public school system, made no effort to hide his relationship with God. A worn Bible sat on the corner of his desk, and while the student’s worked on their assignments, Mr. James had found opportunities to read the scriptures. Even Rachel had started carrying her Bible to school because of his example. His legacy would live on.
As hard as it had been for Rachel to accept the man’s sudden heart attack and death in the middle of third period geometry last week, she knew that Mr. James was actually home. There were others in the school, who did not have that hope, did not have the reassurance of the scriptures. They did not have the hope that she possessed. Matthew, a self-proclaimed atheist, was among them. Rachel prayed fervently for her friend.
A single tear rolled down Matthew’s cheek.
“I can’t believe he is gone,” He choked out.
“I know Matt,” Rachel comforted. “But this isn’t the end. Mr. James’ life has really just begun.”
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