Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: SNOOZE (07/20/17)
TITLE: A Time To Slumber
By Ken Grant
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"May God be with you as leave this place. Remember, that you can always feel the presence of our Lord as you allow him to be a part of your lives."
As Stephanie greeted various parishioners, she intentionally made her way to the last pew on the back left where she knew that Ramon would be seated. She could always count on him slipping in at some point after the service had begun and taking his regular seat. Invariably there were those who would give him dirty looks or even make a comment, but Stephanie knew Ramon's story and every time he appeared was a testimony to her of God's faithfulness and Ramon's devotion.
"Wake up, Ramon. Service is over."
Stephanie knelt down next to the weary, middle-aged man and gently shook his shoulder as she spoke to him. Most Sundays she had to wake him. Every time that she did, he was profusely sorry that he wasn't able to stay awake.
"Thank you, Pastor Stephanie. I almost made it this time."
"You know it is okay if you miss from time to time. It must be so hard working the late hours that you do."
Ramon opened his eyes revealing how blood-shot they were. There was true weariness there, but also hope and confidence for the future.
"It won't always be like this. I'm putting away money to bring my family to be with me. I miss them so much. Each hour that I work is one step closer to us all being together. But, I can't miss church. This is my offering to my Lord."
Stephanie thought about all the looks and the negative comments that some of the other parishioners directed at Ramon. It saddened her that they judged him without really knowing him. She wondered if she were to blame for that somehow, but she knew that Ramon would never want to make his situation public. He was a private man and she would respect that.
"May I pray with you, Ramon?"
"I would be honored, Pastor Stephanie."
Stephanie took Ramon's hand in her own. The sanctuary had cleared out and the holy silence felt like a comforting shroud around them.
"Dear Lord. Help my brother Ramon to have the strength he needs to accomplish the goal of reuniting his family. Keep them safe and watch over them as they are apart. Thank you for Ramon's devotion to you and please honor it and bless him. Amen."
Ramon echoed as he flashed a smile before rising up to leave.
"See you next Sunday, Ramon?"
"I wouldn't miss it."
Stephanie watched Ramon walk slowly away. He could sleep in her service any day. It was an honor.
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