Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: CHECKING IN OR OUT (hotel/motel on vacation) (08/27/15)
- TITLE: The Lamplighter
By Amy Gaudette
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The bitter wind made mockery of my leather jacket. I quickly jumped back into my Fiat and tried again. My tires spun helplessly in the snow.
I'd had fruitless attempts in the past five years to locate my dad, but this one topped all the rest.
I got out and started walking. There was nothing behind me, I hoped there would be something in front of me.
Around the second corner I thought I saw light. My vision was blurred from the storm but the closer I got, the brighter the light became. I saw lanterns shining even in the storm. I couldn't believe my luck, it was an inn. The closer I got the more light I saw. Each window had an oil lamp lit, and the welcome it gave was unmistakable.
“Welcome!” I was greeted by an elderly woman smiling from ear to ear.
“Come by the fire and warm yourself.” She led me to a large overstuffed chair tucked away by a roaring fire. Wow. With the smell of fresh bread filling the air and the ambiance of the room, I felt like I must be in the 1800s.
“Thank you very much,” I found my voice. “I'd like to check in for the night, my car is stuck in the snow.”
“Consider yourself checked in,” she responded graciously.
“I'll be right back with a bowl of hot stew and fresh bread. How does that sound?”
“Wonderful,” was all I could say. As I started to warm up, an older gentleman came in, lighting lanterns throughout the inn.
“Hello,” I said. His bright blue eyes lit up with the flame he was holding. He looked so familiar, like I had known him from somewhere.
“Welcome, son,” he spoke warmly.
My bowl of delicious steamy hot stew came and the best bread I had ever tasted.
The lamplighter returned and sat down in a rocker across from me.
“So, tell me your story. How did you end up here on a night such as this?” His compelling eyes held a depth and warmth I couldn't understand.
It all came out. It was like talking to a wiseman, knowing he understood everything I said. I told him how my mom died five years ago, leaving a confession note about who my dad really was.
I told him how I grew up hating my dad for leaving my mom after I had been born, only to find out she had left him, for another man. She told me he had searched for me for years, and then stopped. I was so angry with her.
I had a great job, a wife and son, and never felt more restless in my life.
“Sometimes we find we are running from something on the outside that can only be dealt with by staying, and dealing with the inside. Could you still be trying to get away from how you grew up?” he gently asked.
“I suppose so. The very thing I wanted most from my childhood, I can't seem to be for my own family.”
“ You came here to check into our Inn, hoping to find a safe place from the storm. But what about the storm in your own life? Where can you check in to find safety? It's in your heavenly Father. He has been with you all along. He has guided you. In Him, you will find forgiveness from your own failings as well as healing from other's failings. He loves you so deeply, He sent you here in the middle of a storm to find a light for your darkness.”
I was speechless. An enveloping presence came over me and tears of repentance, regret, and forgiveness flowed.
I spoke. “You really are a lamplighter, aren't you?”
“Yes, but I am more than that, John. I'm your grandfather.”
Now I knew who he looked like, my son and me. I just sat there and bawled.
“W-Where's my Dad?”
“He's with Jesus, son.”
I took a deep breath. It was going to be O.K. The light that was lit would keep burning. I had answers. Maybe the answers weren't what I wanted, but in some ways it was more then I could have ever imagined. Either way, I was home, and as soon as the storm broke, I was going to go and get my family.
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