Spiritual Fiction posted December 15, 2010


Exceptional
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You never walk alone

The Box

by S. Pumpkin


Love is neverending
A shoebox covered in shiny silver paper sat on a small wooden table located near the back wall of the church.  Placed several feet from the front door and behind a tall beautifully carved marble column allowed parishioners a semblance of privacy when depositing a letter or card inside. A sign with the words Christmas Card Box written in large bold letters was taped on the side of the box.

For years, the box served as a means of sending letters by those unable to pay the postage or a convenient way for parishioners to exchange personal messages.  However, nearly every day during the Christmas season it was filled to capacity with cards for Father MacDougal to hand deliver or mail, dozens of letters from children to Santa Claus, and occasionally an anonymous prayer to God.  Some were addressed directly to God while others often had the name Father MacDougal written on the envelope.
 
Today was Father MacDougal's final mass.  Eighty-two years old, it was time to retire and let a younger priest tend the flock.  It was a sad day for everyone.  Father had baptized, married, counseled, and buried many of the five hundred residents of the small community during his sixty-years as priest at St. Bartholomew's Catholic Church.  Age and a poor heart prevented him from fulfilling duties that often required physical energy he no longer possessed.
 
After saying goodbye, shaking hands, and hugging farewell to the congregation, he closed the doors and stood silently staring at the empty pews, walls, and alter of the Church that had been his home for most of his life. 
 
 
As he had done every week, he walked over to the table where the box of letters sat. Normally he waited until sitting at the desk in his office to open the box, but today he sat down in the back pew and carefully removed the lid. Expecting to separate the letters and cards into piles according to the name written on the envelopes, Father was surprised to see that each was addressed to him in eloquently printed gold lettering.  As he opened the first envelope, he felt a gentle warm breeze flow through his thick, gray hair.  The sound of a familiar voice startled him.  Father looked up and saw Mrs. Martin standing beside him.  A moment of fear wrapped around him knowing Mrs. Martin passed away more than thirty years ago.  He then glanced at the letter and saw her name written on the sheet of paper. He opened the second envelope and felt the same warm breeze.  Suddenly little Joey Williams was standing beside Mrs. Martin.  Joey died at the age of five from a fall from the loft in his family's barn. One by one, Father continued to open the envelopes.  Holding the last letter in his hand, he looked around and saw the church filled with more than a hundred and twenty parishioners that had passed away during his ministry. Each stood smiling as he opened the envelope.  Seeing his name on the sheet of paper, he realized they had come to escort him on his final journey home.
 
Father stood up and took Mrs. Martin's hand.  As they walked up the aisle, he glanced back at the Christmas Box.  It was still sitting
unopened on the table at the back of the church. He then saw his body, now an empty shell, sitting in the last pew, eyes closed, and with a smile on his face.


The Christmas Card Box writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
The challenge is to write a short story, under 1000 words describing a particular card or letter the pastor finds in the Christmas Card Box.
You may describe how he reacts to or handles the letter or card or leave it as a mystery.
The post must be family friendly, no obscenity, no offensive language.
Each entry must strive for some positive contribution to the reader.
It does not necessarily have to be about Christmas.

Recognized


This just popped into my mind when I saw this contest. No dialogue in this one, sometimes it isn't needed.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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