After spending the weekend at Paul's parents
home, David headed north toward Seattle early Monday morning. There was less than three
thousand miles on the Heavenly Glide and the new Harley rode better than his old one.
David was still sorting things out in his mind while cruising north on Interstate 5 for
Canada. God, I know you keep giving me all these signs, the football, even this
motorcycle, but it would be simpler if you just came out and told me what you expect of
me. I'm sure that you want me to fill in Paul's shoes and spiritually help people, but I
can't get Marcea off my mind. Should wanting to serve you, make me feel like I have to
sacrifice so much? Just make things clearer so that . . .
Traveling next to the huge body of salt water of Puget Sound was
cool and refreshing, but when a bank of fog rolled in, shutting off the heat of the sun,
David turned east on Interstate 90 for warmer, dryer air. He rode all day and when the
shadows began stretching east toward infinity, David stopped in the small Indian town of
Yakima to spend the night.
The habit formed by all the months of predawn rising at the monastery
kept David from sleeping past six A.M. Once leaving the motel, the brisk morning air had a
feel of dampness and made David rethink his travel plans. Maybe I'll pass on cruising
into Canada. I'm getting too old to deal with the weather. I know Highway 97 runs along
the backside of the Cascade Mountains, so traveling across the high desert should be a
sure bet for good weather this time of year. I can always see Canada next year. Wait till
Danny sees this! He loved going for rides on my old bike. And I did tell Terry I'd be back
to visit him in the hospital before he . . .
On a few of the wide-open stretches David cracked the throttle and
the Harley responded like an untamed beast; keeping the new evolution designed motor below
sixty would be like muzzling a dog. The straight highway turned into switchbacks as it
wound down into the Columbia River Gorge; David finally eased off the power. Crossing high
above the river on the Bride of The God's, David watched the brilliant colored sails of
windsurfers darting underneath the bridge, catching the warm afternoon easterly winds. It
was only a few minutes before he was winding back up out of the deep canyon on the Oregon
side of the river and into a forest of tall Douglas firs trees.
By evening David was halfway across Oregon and stopped at a KOA
campground nestled at the base of three spectacular snow-capped peaks, known as the Three
Sisters. He got a burger, purchased a sleeping bag and paid for the night. It was just
before dusk when he found a campsite on a grassy knoll. After unrolling the sleeping bag
as the blue evening sky turn to a brilliant reddish orange he leaned back against an old
Juniper tree to watch the sun set behind the three mountains. David took in God's show and
prayed. God, thank you for everything. I put all my faith in you and hope to continue
on in a mission of charity.
David said the prayer over and over until the colored sky faded to
dark gray. He had just started walking around the campgrounds when a light shining onto a
historical marker caught his attention. He stopped to read it: THE THREE
MOUNTAINS IN THE BACKGROUND, NOW KNOWN AS THE THREE SISTERS, WERE ONCE CALLED THE
MOUNTAINS OF FAITH, HOPE AND CHARITY. Despite the prayer he had just been saying,
this time David didn't even look for another message. Instead he looked up, just barely
able to see the silhouette of the mountains. In the silence he heard God speak to him.
The next morning David woke up stiff from his sleep atop a picnic
table. After a hot shower and some coffee at the campground store, he hurriedly rolled up
the sleeping bag, strapped it to the handlebars, and headed south for California.
Ten hours later, just before rush hour traffic, David pulled up in
front of Marcea's apartment and, before he had a chance to shut the engine off, Marcea had
the door flung opened. A towel wrapped around her wet hair, she walked down the ramp
toward him. "David, what are you doing here?"
"I'm sorry. I should've called, but I just got this Harley and
remembered how much Danny liked going for rides on my old one."
Marcea looked over the shining new blue motorcycle. "You know, it
always scared me when you'd take him for rides back in Colorado."
"I never knew that. You should've told me."
"Can I go? Can I go? Please Mom!" Danny came rushing down the
Marcea turned toward Danny and remembered the weekend when she moved in
with David. She was putting her things away in his mobile home when she heard the deep
throated sound and caught a glimpse of Danny sitting on the motorcycle seat in front of
David as they pulled away. She was furious, the whole time they were gone she waited under
the carport with her arms folded across her chest, ready to tear into David. Finally, the
roar got louder as they came back down the road and turned into the driveway, but the
smile on Danny's face caused her to keep quiet, and for all those years she kept
motorcycles to herself. "I'm sorry Danny, but you don't have a helmet. We left it
back in Colorado."
"Please Mom. Just one short ride. Pleezze?"
"No Danny, I'm sorry but those things scare me. Without a helmet,
"He can use my helmet," Ann offered, standing at the top of
the wheelchair ramp.
"What helmet?" Marcea asked as she turned to glare at Ann.
"My horse riding helmet," she said darting back into the
apartment. In less than a minute Ann came bouncing down the ramp and helped Danny put on
Being three against one, Marcea reluctantly gave in. When David and
Danny rode off she went inside to get ready for her date.
Ann sat on the bed giving daughterly advice on what to wear. After
Marcea tried on the third dress, they both agreed on the sleeveless cotton floral summer
dress. Now in front of the mirror Marcea was just starting to fix her hair when she heard
the rumbling sound coming from outside. Ann jumped off the bed and beat her to the front
David had just put Danny back into his wheelchair and they had started
doing their usual high-five hand slapping thing, saying how cool the bike was. "Ready
for your ride?" David chided Marcea who was now standing in the doorway.
"Yeah, sure David."
"Go ahead, Mom. Just once, go for a ride. You know, Tony will
never have a motorcycle," Ann said to egg her on. "It's almost as fun as riding
a horse. Go ahead. I'll watch Danny," Ann was pulling Marcea by the hand down the
"No, Ann! I don't want to! And besides your helmet won't fit
"This one will," said David, loosening up the sleeping bag
strapped to the handle bars and pulling out a shorty helmet that was tucked inside.
"Sorry Marcea, I'm not calling your bluff. I just wanted you to know that I would've
never come by to take Danny for a ride without having a helmet for him."
Feeling somewhat guilty Marcea didn't say anything as David worked the
half style helmet back into the center of the rolled up sleeping bag. He tightened the
straps and threw his leg over the seat. "Ann, I owe you a ride next time. Danny, I'll
call you on the computer soon. I should get going; looks like your mother is busy."
"Not that busy. I thought you offered to take me for a ride?"
Marcea said, now taking her turn chiding David. Surprising them all she swung her leg over
the seat, stood on the foot pegs, tucked the dress underneath herself and said,
David looked back over his shoulder and said, "Let's not joke
around. I'll admit, you were always right. If something happened to us, who'd take care of
the kids? You've proved your point."
"David, I'm not kidding. I'm ready to find out what riding on one
of these things is all about. Ann's right, I'll never have another chance. Just be
Ann was already pushing Danny up the ramp when she turned and smiled.
Her look carried some telepathic message. It was more than an older sister taking care of
her brother; it was a daughter knowing where her mother's heart really was and an unspoken
seal of approval.
David's thumb pushed on the starter. The sound was intimidating and as
the heat of the engine boiled up from under the seat, Marcea could feel the power of the
engine thumping underneath her. There was a clunk when David dropped the bike into gear
and she instinctively wrapped her arms around his waist. When he feathered out the clutch
and started to move she looked over and nervously called out, "We'll see you kids in
a few minutes!"
David turned left out of the parking lot, not even noticing Marcea's
holding on to him for dear life. He was riding one hundred and ten percent alert. He
relaxed a little when they got away from the traffic on an old road that ran through the
vineyard outside Napa Valley.
After a few more miles of gliding over the majestic roads, Marcea
loosened her grip and leaned back against the small backrest. She breathed in deeply,
inhaling the scent of the vineyards while her eyes scanned the unobstructed scenery. The
warm wind blowing up under her dress and over her legs was as gentle as a warm on-shore
sea breeze. The roar and heat of the engine were now replaced by the gentle soothing
vibration of each cylinder firing underneath the seat. They carved around some long
sweeping corners and the ecstasy of ride finally overcame her. The freedom was
intoxicating, much more than she had expected. Wrapping her arms back around David's
waist, she pulled herself against him, not caring where the road would take them, just
experiencing the ride. Marcea wished that they could ride into the evening, then stop at a
hilltop to watch the sunset where David would wrap his arms around her and . . .
David slowed to a stop at a crest in the road, looked ahead and behind
for cars, then carefully turned around and started back. Marcea's dream dissolved.
Ann and Danny heard them pull up out front and rushed out of the
apartment excited to know all about Marcea's first ride on a motorcycle. When she pulled
the helmet off to talk, she caught a look of herself in the mirror on the handlebars.
"Oh, no! Look at my hair! I'll tell you kids about the ride later," Marcea said
as she ran in the door.
"Oops, Tony is taking Mom to a big fund raiser tonight,"
offered Ann, almost as an in an apology. "He told her to look fancy because she might
get to meet the Governor."
"Who cares? I'm glad her hair got messed up," Danny said with
a devilish grin.
"I'm sure it is important to your mother," David told Danny.
"Yeah, some big party to save sea gulls. It's stupid!"
"David, thanks for the horse riding lessons," Ann spoke up,
anxious to change the subject. "Sister Madeline and I are still taking riding
lessons, and I might even be able to buy my own horse soon."
"That's great. I know how much you love horses. I have some time
to take you for a short ride if you want, Ann. I don't want to leave you out."
"I'll go next time, David. I'm going to go help Mom get
ready," Ann said while giving David a big hug. She wanted to say more, not caring for
Tony that much herself.
"Well, I'll see you two later. I want to stop by the hospital and
see a friend," David said as he pushed Danny up the ramp. From just inside the door
everyone could hear the hair dryer blowing and the commotion of Marcea getting ready.
"Danny, let's connect up Wednesday night. I've got a new game I want to download to
you," David said as he turned and hurried back down the ramp.
The next morning David called Monsignor Grant from the monastery, told
him about how good he felt about visiting Paul's parents and was just starting to fill him
in on his spending the night at the base of the Three Sisters when Timothy suggested they
meet for lunch. Monsignor Grant had more important news and was trying to figure out how
he'd explain it all to David.
David purposely showed up early, parked in a conspicuous spot, and
waited for Timothy. As soon as he saw the white Buick he waved Timothy over to park next
to him. As soon as Monsignor Grant stepped out of his car he said, "I had wondered
what had come of Paul's motorcycle?"
"You know about this?"
"Sure. And maybe after lunch you can give me a ride. But let's go
on in, we have a lot to talk about."
With the wind taken out of David, they went in and ordered a pizza.
They found a window booth and Timothy spoke right up. "Well David, did your trip help
you come to any conclusions?"
"Yeah, it did. I don't need to tell you about the motorcycle. But
I did have a revelation while spending a night at the base of three mountains. They were
once named Faith, Hope and Charity."
"You mean the Three Sisters. That's beautiful country, up there in
Oregon. I've caught some big fish in Prineville Reservoir," Timothy said holding his
hands up about two feet apart the distance all fisherman use to illustrate the size
of their catch. "Anyway, while you were gone, some things came up. I did some
checking and I can get you enrolled for fall classes at the seminary in San Francisco.
What do you think?"
"That'd be great. I want to start my studies more than ever now.
Especially since the prayer I said while camping . . . " David stopped himself,
knowing what the monsignor's reply would probably be. "But what about tuition
"You could always sell that motorcycle," said Timothy
jokingly. He was still trying to figure out how to tell David that someone had made a
$70,000 donation for his schooling without David's taking it as another sign. "David,
you won't have to worry about costs; someone set up a sizable trust to pay for your
"I knew it. It's another sign. All of this is, the cycle, my
stopping at the Faith, Hope and Charity Mountains, the football everything."
"David, people help others with their education costs every day.
Look at all the parents who put their children through college."
"Well then, tell me who set up the trust? My parents sure couldn't
"I can't tell you. And let's not get on one of our discussions
about inner locutions," said Timothy, picking up a slice of pizza. "Have you
given any more thought to enrolling as a permanent deacon?"
David also picked up a piece of pizza. "Yeah, I've thought about
it. It might be better for me, with the less schooling and all. I'd have fewer classes and
then I could continue at the hospital."
Monsignor Grant finished chewing, then said, "David, what you are
doing for those men at the at the hospital is noble. I find it amazing. That's where I see
God's signs in you."
"I'm not doing anything special. Sure, at first I didn't want to
go down there, but so many of the guys are around my age . . . Well, we just have a lot in
common." David stopped to take another bite. "Anyway, speaking of signs, since
you won't tell me who set up this anonymous trust, I've got to tell you about how I was
saying this prayer about putting my faith in God, hoping to continue on in a life of
charity . . ." Timothy listened to David, smiling and offering his bit of wisdom now
They finished lunch and while walking across the parking Monsignor
Grant said, "David there's one more thing I need to show you." He opened the
trunk of his car. "The same person that set up the trust thought you could use this
David reached into the trunk and picked up a dark gray notebook
computer. His thumb found the snap and he opened it. "I can't believe it! I always
wanted this model. It has the new Pentium processor, the build in fax and the dual-scan
"Well, the person knew you wanted it."
David looked directly at Timothy. "Bill is the only one who knew I
wanted one of these. I used to talk about it all the time at work. He's the one that set
up the trust; isn't he?"
"I promised I wouldn't say."
"I'm not going to take this or the money. That's Bill and Mary's
"He's right. You are as stubborn as a mule on a hot Texas
day," said Monsignor Grant, shutting the trunk before David had a chance to put the
computer back. "He told me that the money is from the property and electronic
equipment he just liquidated in Colorado. He told me you already paid him for the business
and the money is rightfully yours!"
David paused, looked at the computer then walked over next to the bike.
Everything started to add up. It's like my whole life had been laid out before time or
something, like one big plan. David carefully put the notebook computer in the right
saddle bag, then threw his leg over the seat. Still not saying anything, he pulled on his
helmet before he looked over and said, "Don't worry, I won't say anything to
Bill." David worked the Harley backwards out of the parking spot and then hit the
starter. Now only a few feet from Monsignor Grant, David yelled over the low rumble of the
motor, "Timothy, it's another sign." Although Monsignor Grant shook his head
side to side, his frown turned into a smile. David shifted into gear, and grinning ear to
ear, he headed out of the parking lot.
The next week was hectic; David just barely moved from the monastery
and enrolled in the seminary in San Francisco. Being closer to the hospital made it
convenient to visit between classes, evening and on weekends. With the new notebook
computer he could do homework anyplace and he used it to connect up with Danny on
Wednesday evenings. For the first six weeks time flew by and the only trouble David
managed to find was getting caught giving a patient a ride on the Harley. He had to report
to the hospital board, but no formal action was taken. Off the record he was told to be
extremely careful and not ever get caught doing it again.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving David and Danny were doing their
usual keyboard chatting and just before they signed off David typed:
YOU HAVE A GOOD THANKSGIVING AND WISH YOUR MOM AND
SISTER THE SAME FOR ME.
I WILL, BUT MOM WON'T. SHE'S SAD. ANN TOLD ME WE
MIGHT NOT EVEN HAVE TURKEY TOMORROW.
DANNY, DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE PROBLEM IS?
NO, BUT I THINK SHE'S MAD AT TONY OR SOMETHING.
I'LL PRAY FOR HER. YOU SHOULD TOO, DANNY. GOOD NIGHT.
As soon as Danny switched off his computer he heard the phone in
the front room ring. "Marcea, this is David. We haven't talked for a long time. I
called back to see how things were going for you. How are you doing?"
"I'm doing okay," Marcea replied softly. "Danny didn't
say anything did he?"
"No, not really. But I was wondering what you are doing tomorrow
"Not much of anything," Marcea said as she carried the
cordless phone across the room and cuddled up in the corner of the sofa.
"Well, if you don't have plans, why don't you, Ann and Danny come
to Thanksgiving dinner with Monsignor Grant and me."
"I couldn't do that. I'd be imposing."
"No, you wouldn't. Did you know Thanksgiving Day was originally a
Christian holiday and is really the only one that hasn't had it's date changed or was
intended to overshadow a pagan festival? It was actually three days of prayer the early
Pilgrims set aside to give thanks to God."
"I didn't know that David. Its sounds like you're becoming well
educated at the seminary."
"I wouldn't go that far, Marcea, but I do think . . . " David
and Marcea talked for the longest time just like they use to.
Finally, Marcea confided in David. "Tony kept reminding me that my
biological clock was ticking. The straw that broke the camel's back was when he told me
that the longer we waited to have a child together the greater the odds of my giving birth
to an unhealthy child. The creep showed his true colors by telling me how he wanted his own
son to take over everything he had, to play sports with and go fishing."
David shared her pain, wishing he could reach through the phone to
comfort her. Just before they hung up David asked, one more time, if she'd meet them at
the restaurant for dinner. Marcea wrote down the address of the restaurant but wouldn't
promise anything, still insisting she'd feel out of place.
That night when Marcea laid in her bed she thought about how genuine
David had been over the phone. He's changed. He's not the same David I lived with. The
way he talks and cares . . . everything he's doing at the hospital. It's obvious, David's
new destiny is to serve you, Lord. I pray for him.
The next morning Marcea got the children up early. She had Ann put on
her finest dress and then went to battle to get Danny to wear a tie. Although she hadn't
accepted David's offer to join him and Monsignor Grant for Thanksgiving dinner, she did
feel like attending a church service. David's information telling her how Thanksgiving
actually originated from three days of prayer by the early Christians had made her reflect
on all that she had to be thankful for.
It was a welcomed surprise to David when Marcea showed up early at the
small mission church in Davis for the service. David hugged Marcea, asking her if she was
going to join them for Thanksgiving dinner. She again declined the offer, saying she would
feel like an intruder. Danny was unusually quiet. Marcea had warned him on the drive up
not to say anything about going out to dinner. He reluctantly agreed . . . after he got to
take off the tie. Ann showed off her dress and wearing her first pair of nylons, she felt
like a young woman.
After the Thanksgiving Day service Monsignor Grant wouldn't accept any
excuses. They left the church parking lot in two cars for the restaurant. The smell of
turkey filled the air as all five of them were seated. Ann squeezed in next to Monsignor
Grant, Marcea sat next to them, David sat across from Marcea, and Danny scooted in on the
remaining side of the table.
The food was ample and home-made, right down to real mashed potatoes
and cranberry sauce. Danny wouldn't touch the yams or stuffing and David came to his aid;
when Marcea insisted he eat everything; David coyly traded cranberry sauce for his yam and
stuffing. Monsignor Grant told Ann about the bishop's race horses and that he was looking
for a stall keeper for the weekends. Danny and David talked computers while Marcea sat
quietly, just content to be with good friends.
While they were eating pumpkin pie Monsignor Grant turned to David and
asked, "How are things at the seminary?"
"I'm really busy. The class on Old Testament Hebrew has me lost.
But I worked out a deal with the instructor; I helped him connect up the classroom
computer to the Internet and he's tutoring me privately."
"That what I heard. You've already got a reputation with your
technical skills. The word is they're going to take you up on your offer to network all
the computers at the seminary."
"Yeah, I know. Isn't it strange? Here I thought I'd never be using
my skills again and I'm back pulling wire and hooking up computers. Who knows, maybe will
get connected into the World-Wide-Web and start dealing with a lot of the trash and
"I don't think it strange. Maybe it's a sign," Monsignor
Grant said with a big smile, before taking a bite of pie. "Oh by the way, the
Chancery Office is thinking about installing a permanent deacon at the mission church here
in Davis. I offered your name for a possibility after you graduate. I hope that was okay
"Sure, that'd be great. It'd be convenient for me as I could still
work at the hospital. But whatever my mission is, I put my faith in God. Who knows? One of
the priest instructors at the seminary was asking me how difficult it was to set up an AM
radio station. They're talking about . . . "
Danny interrupted the conversation by bumping David on the elbow, then
whispered in his ear. The two of them excused themselves and headed toward the restroom.
Marcea was a little uncomfortable, remembering the time she lost it and became verbally
hostile with Timothy in the parking lot of the monastery. Trying to show her true side she
said, "I'm glad that you put David's name in for that position. I'm sure he would be
good there at the small church."
"Yes, I think so. I think the time is coming when the church is
going to use deacons more, especially at small mission churches."
Marcea made an effort to keep the conversation going. "I don't
understand one thing. You said a deacon, not a priest. Is there a difference?"
"Yes, a considerable difference. A permanent deacon, unlike a
transitional deacon stays at that position. He doesn't go on to become a priest. There's
less schooling and some other things that makes David a better candidate for that
"Oh. I can see where less schooling will be good. David's one of
those types who would have a hard time spending five years in the classroom."
"You're right about that. In the short time I've known him I can
tell he's one of those hands-on types. He'll be able to do Baptisms and administer Last
Rites, which will work into his calling at the hospital very nicely," said Monsignor
Grant, taking another bite of pie. The conversation died for awhile and he started to take
a drink of coffee. "Oh, I almost forgot. Another thing a permanent deacon can
be married, or get married if his wife agrees to share in his ministry. She's required to
also take schooling. It's important that . . . "
"You two are boring me," Ann said, as politely as she could.
"Can't we talk about horses?"
Just then David was pushing Danny back from the rest room toward the
table. Ann pestered Monsignor Grant, making sure he'd remember to give her name to the
bishop, filling him in on all her knowledge of horses. Danny started telling David about
two programming errors he'd found with the computer mystery game he had downloaded to him
and said he would have it solved soon. Meanwhile the word married kept echoing in
Marcea's head as she just sat still, smiling and watching everyone enjoying themselves.
That evening Marcea had Danny call David via computer to thank him for
inviting them all out to dinner. She couldn't help herself and after only a few minutes of
their being connected she scooted in next to Danny and took over the keyboard.
DAVID, THIS IS MARCEA. I HAD A WONDERFUL TIME TONIGHT.
JUST WANTED TO TELL YOU PERSONALLY. THANK YOU FOR INVITING US ALL.
IT WAS OUR PLEASURE MARCEA. ON THE WAY HOME TIMOTHY TOLD ME HOW ANN
BENT HIS EAR ALL ABOUT HER EXPERTISE WITH HORSES. HE'S GOING TO CALL THE BISHOP IN THE
MORNING. YOU'D BETTER SAY SOMETHING NOW IF YOU DON'T WANT HER HAVING THAT STALL KEEPER
NO, THAT'D BE FINE. MONSIGNOR AND I ALSO TALKED ABOUT . . .
Marcea quit typing.
OH, ABOUT YOU AND YOUR SCHOOLING AND DIFFERENT THINGS.
WHAT KIND OF DIFFERENT THINGS?
OH, LITTLE THINGS. HOW YOU'RE MORE OF A HANDS ON TYPE GUY, NOT ONE TO
SPEND TIME IN THE CLASSROOM.
BOY, YOU'RE RIGHT ABOUT THAT. WAS THAT ALL YOU TALKED ABOUT?
YEAH, THAT WAS ABOUT IT. OH THERE WAS ONE MORE THING?
There was a long pause.
I ALMOST FORGOT. . . DAVID I COULD
USE YOUR EXPERTISE. WE'RE PUTTING ON A CHRISTMAS PROGRAM AT THE DAYCARE/SCHOOL THIS YEAR.
COULD YOU HELP WITH THE SOUND SYSTEM?
I THOUGHT BILL DOES ALL THAT STUFF? HE'S PRETTY GOOD WITH SOUND
YEAH, HE IS. I MEANT COULD YOU HELP WITH THE LIGHTING AND MAYBE VIDEO
TAPE THE PROGRAM? THIS YEAR WE'LL HAVE SOME OF THE SPECIAL CHILDREN THAT STAY AT THE
OVERNIGHT CENTER IN THE PROGRAM.
SURE MARCEA, I'D LOVE TO. AND I COULD USE YOUR HELP TOO, ON SOMETHING.
COULD YOU HELP ME PUT TOGETHER SOMETHING FOR THE GUYS DOWN AT THE HOSPITAL?
Marcea and David chatted for hours. Neither one thought, or
suggested just picking up the phone to have a voice conversation. Danny had long ago
slipped into bed and prayed the same prayer he had for years.
The first three weeks of December flew by. When David and Bill worked
together on the lighting and sound for the children's Christmas play, it seemed just like
old times. David did a professional job on the video taping and hadn't expected
seventy-three proud parents to ask for a copy. One of the media instructors at the
seminary stayed over the first Saturday of Christmas break to help David copy tapes.
Sunday afternoon, with two boxes of video tapes in arm, David knocked
on the door to Marcea's apartment with his foot. He was surprised when Bill answered the
door. "Let me give y'all a hand," Bill said as he grabbed the top box of tapes
"Hi Bill. You going to watch the kids when Marcea and I go to the
"No, we're all going with you," came Mary's voice from inside
the apartment. David looked inside the door and saw Mary, Sister Katherine, Sister
Madeline, Ann and Danny ready and waiting to go. Marcea was the only one they had to wait
for, but she finally emerged from down the hall after changing her sweater and checking
her hair for the third time.
David felt like he was leading a procession, helping Bill carry the
Christmas tree off the elevator with Mary, Sister Katherine and Sister Madeline following,
carrying trays of food and cookies. Ann and Marcea took up the rear with a big box of hand
made decorations and cards from the kids at the daycare. Bill set the tree right in the
center of the rec-room and everyone started decorating. Sister Katherine started humming
"Silent Night" and before she got to the second verse she was being accompanied
by three of the patients. Soon everyone was joining in the festivities.
Danny noticed one of the patients in a wheelchair in the corner giving
a nurse a hard time when she tried to get him to join in. After she left Danny wheeled
himself over next to him and proudly said, "Hi, my name is Danny. I'm a friend of
"David! That do-gooder, shows up here and talks to everyone. It's
a big joke. He's not the one dying. Look at me. I was a great athlete and in the prime of
my life. Now this."
"What kind of athlete were you?" asked Danny.
"I was great at everything track, skiing, tennis, even
surfing at forty," spouted the patient.
"I'm impressed," said Danny positioning his wheelchair so
that he could see everyone else gather around the Christmas tree. "If I could have
one thing for this Christmas, you know what it would be?"
"Yeah, kid. I've heard it a thousand times! You'd want to find a
cure for AIDS."
"Nope. But that'd be good. What I'd like to do is trade lives with
you. If I could do all those things you have done ski, play tennis, surf, and all
that stuff that would be the one thing I'd want. Just for one year would be enough,
but till I was forty would be too much to ask for." Danny then moved himself back to
the center of the room to help decorate the tree.
Bill's height earned him the honor of putting the angel on the very top
of the tree. After a round of clapping, Sister Katherine started humming "The First
Noel." The singing filled the rec-room and floated out and above the fourteenth
floor. Danny felt somebody tapping on his arm and looked over to see the patient in the
wheel chair. "Hey kid, Merry Christmas."
The stay at the hospital turned out longer than planned for. Both Ann
and Danny fell to sleep in the car on the way home. Marcea woke Ann, helped her into the
apartment and guided her down the hall into her bedroom. David carried Danny to his
bedroom, put him to bed and stood there looking down at him. As they prayed David couldn't
help but tell Danny how proud he was of him for the way he befriended a lost soul. Danny
just rolled over and groggily said, "I love you, David."
When David left the bedroom and walked out into the dimly lit front
room he could smell the scent of Marcea's perfume. Closing his eyes and drawing in the
fragrance he envisioned Marcea standing there adorned only by candle light. But the
fantasy was snapped by the sound of a door being closed.
"How about if I make us a cup of coffee?" Marcea said
quietly, as she came out of the hall and walked toward the kitchen.
David reached out for her hand as she passed by. Marcea froze. David
put his other hand on her shoulder, turned her into him, and gave her a small kiss on the
forehead. Marcea looked up, closed her eyes, then put her moist lips against David's. They
melted into each other as they exchanged warm passionate kisses at the end of the hall. It
took all David's strength to break their embrace and looking down into Marcea's big brown
eyes he struggled with the words. "Marcea, I'd better leave. I don't think I could
control myself if I stayed. I know you understand." David walked to the door still
holding onto Marcea's hand. Then he turned and gave her one more kiss on the forehead.
Once again their mouths found each other.
This time Marcea broke their embrace and with a somewhat teasing smile
she said, "David, I do understand." Then she kissed him with all the months of
boiling, pent up passion. Finally, her hand found the doorknob, she opened the door and
gently pushed David away.
Dazed and spellbound, David slowly backed out the door, unable to take
his eyes off Marcea. "Ah, ah, Marcea I almost forgot. I was wondering if you and the
kids would like to come to the Midnight Christmas Mass service we're having."
"I'd love to David. Why don't you call me tomorrow and we'll talk
about it." Marcea slowly closed the door.
It was Christmas Eve and David anxiously scanned the darkened church
while lighting the candles. Taking the bread and wine to the back of the church, he still
did not see Marcea, Ann or Danny. His excitement turned to concern. The church was packed
and Monsignor Grant and he were in the foyer, just about to start down the isle. Finally
Marcea rushed in the door. "Danny ate too many Christmas cookies. I had to wait for
Mary and Bill to come over."
"Is he okay?" asked David as he took Marcea's arms and led
her into church.
"I'm sure he'll be fine. He had Ann playing his personal nurse,
until Bill and Mary showed up with an armload of presents. It was a miraculous
recovery," said Marcea as she let loose of David's arm to slip into the pew.
The service concluded and Marcea waited while David put out the
candles, cleared off the altar and turned off lights. Everyone had left the church when
David walked back to where Marcea was waiting. Not saying a word, David handed her an
envelope, then walked back up to the front of the church and knelt in front of the manger
scene. Marcea opened the letter.
Dear Marcea. I could never find the words to tell you
how much you mean to me. That is why I've written this letter. Your beauty extends
outwards and its only been over the past year that I been able to see that this awesome
radiance starts within your soul.
It is my prayer that you would marry me and let me into your heart. No
matter what your decision is, I will always pray that the power of the Holy Spirit
continues to look over us all. I'm just beginning to see that everything that has happened
is God's will and it seems that all the signs suggest that he wants us to be family. The
love that His son brought to us on this day is an example of the love I would like to show
you. Would you share your family and life with me for the rest of our days?
I Love you. David
Elated, stunned and speechless, Marcea sat there staring at the
letter, unable to move as all her deep hidden dreams rushed forward, already becoming
plans. We'll have a big wedding, then a romantic honeymoon someplace private, just
David and me. Someday we'll get a house in the country where we can have a dog, maybe a
horse. I can have a garden and . . .
David walked back then reached into his pocket and said, "I
hope that I know your answer, so I don't have to take this back." Pulling out a
solitaire diamond ring, he lightly took Marcea's hand and slipped the ring on her finger.
Marcea stood up, kissed David and said, "Yes, David, I'll marry
you. That's all I've prayed for since that day I met you out in the parking lot of this
church months ago."
"That was at Paul's funeral," David said smiling, thinking of
Paul. "You know, Paul once told me if I didn't change, it wouldn't be fair to you if
I asked you to marry me."
"David, you have changed. You're not the same person I once knew.
It's strange, like somehow Paul planned all this."
"You know Marcea I can feel him right now standing there with a
big smile on his face."
"I know, David. And the best part is he brought God into our
Marcea's dream of a large hometown wedding evaporated when they decided
to get married in the small church in Davis. Both agreed that this was where their lives
were now. Although they only had met a handful of friends, these were the people that
meant the most to them. The date was set for the first week in June, after David's final
exams and before Marcea's busiest time of year for over-nighters at the school.
The months flew by. Marcea's already busy schedule now had her
attending classes two days a week at the seminary with David, a requirement for the
wife-to-be of a permanent deacon. The classes did give Marcea and David some quality time
together during the week since both now had such full and fulfilling lives. Even on
weekends they found it hard to just be alone, with David either at the hospital or it
being Marcea's weekend to work. They both couldn't wait until they'd be living under one
roof, so that they'd be together more. At least then every night when the lights of their
fast-paced worlds dimmed, they could lay next to each other and share something they never
had before their souls.
The small wedding was turning out to be a blessing, with no more than
twenty invitations having to be sent out. It made Marcea's decision to walk down the isle
by herself less awkward; since she had only met her mothers new husband two times. But
David did insist they pay the airfares for Marcea's mother and stepfather to fly down
saying a bus from Seattle was too much to ask.
A week before the wedding Marcea picked up her dress and was trying it
on in her office before she went home for the day. Sister Katherine happened by the
partially open door and looked in. The white sleeveless dress accented her olive brown
skin and the small train was not overly done. "Ooh! Marcea you look so
beautiful," said Sister Katherine as she pushed the door wide open.
"Thank you," Marcea said turning in a full circle.
"What's going on?" asked Sister Madeline just getting to the
doorway. "Oh my, oh my! What a sight to behold!"
Now Mary came to see what all the commotion was about. "Marcea, oh
Marcea," she said pushing between Sister Madeline and Sister Katherine and going to
Marcea. She grabbed both Marcea's hands and looked at her, unable to speak.
Mary finally caught her breath and started telling of her wedding day
to Bill, but then it slipped out. "Marcea, I should have asked you. But I took it
upon myself to say it would be okay."
"Okay for what?" asked Marcea.
"A, okay, that a few of the parents from the daycare bring their
children to the wedding. I know you wanted a small wedding but a few of the kids really
want to come. I can tell them differently if you want."
"No Mary, that's okay. I really don't mind, but it would be a
little embarrassing if we didn't have enough food or cake."
Sister Katherine jumped in. "Marcea, don't worry about that. I
will make sure there is plenty of food and cake let me take care of that. This is your
Sister Madeline coyly slipped in the conversation. "Robin, Danny's
friend was asking about your wedding. I think she'd like to come also. If it's okay?"
"That would be fine. But I feel guilty we only sent out twenty
invitations. I should really invite them formally."
"Hog wash!" Mary said. "These people are your friends
they just want to share in your happiness."
"Yes, don't worry about a thing," Sister Katherine again
"Thank all of you for everything." Marcea embraced each woman
individually, still floating on the realization that her wedding day was the following
The wedding day jitters finally hit Marcea as everyone fussed and
helped her get ready. Her mother cried seeing Marcea the first time in her dress. Although
well intentioned, she started offering suggestions about the flowers, the seating and
tried unconsciencously to take charge. Sister Madeline came to the rescue by taking
Marcea's mom and step-father to the reception hall, charming them with witty conversation
Danny and David were changing in the small sacristy room next to the
altar when Bill came in. "Y'all look sharp."
"Thanks Bill. Doesn't Danny make a good-looking Best Man?"
"You bet he does!" Bill said in a reassuring tone. "By
the way David, this is supposed to be a small wedding isn't it?"
"Yeah. Just twenty or so guests and family. Why?"
"Well I think a few extra guests slipped in. Three nurses came
with a couple of your friends from the hospital, they said everyone on the fourteenth
floor said to say hi and congratulations."
"That's great. I'm really glad they came."
"A couple of guys with tattoos and their women showed up on
motorcycles," Bill continued, while scratching his head. "They said they were
your riding buddies."
"Yeah, they told me at church they were going to crash my wedding.
They're okay Bill. Franko's really a good guy. He and Monsignor Grant go back a long
"Okay then. Y'all got about ten minutes till you're hitched."
"Bill, thanks for everything. You did a great job ushering,"
David said shaking Bill's hand.
"See y'all in a few minutes." Bill said, leaving to go find
Mary. He knocked on the door in the back of church. "You gals got about five minutes.
Do y'all need anything?"
Mary cracked the door. "We're all fine, Bill. Would you like to
sneak a peek at the bride?" Bill stuck his head in the door and caught a glimpse of
Marcea. Her pure radiant beauty stopped all six foot four of Bill. She opened her arms and
Bill barged through the door to give her a hug.
Hugging Bill it just came to Marcea, she wondered why she hadn't
thought of it before. Raising up on her toes she whisper into his ear. "Bill, would
you do me the honor of walking me down the isle? You're the only dad I really know."
Bill held Marcea for the longest time, too emotional to reply. Mary
overheard Marcea's request and couldn't help the tears. She now joined them in a three way
hug. The room seemed to burst with joy. Finally, Bill put out his arm and Marcea grabbed
on to it. "Well young lady, we'd better get this wedding under way." Ann lead
them out of the room and when they rounded the corner to walk down the aisle Marcea's hand
tightened on Bill's arm. It looked like every child from the daycare and also the
overnight inn were there with their parents. Mr. and Mrs. Miller were up front sitting
next to the bishop and her mother stepped out from the very front row to snap a picture.
The music started.
David's eyes locked on his bride with each step she got more beautiful.
His knees trembled as Bill handed her to him. David just gazed upon Marcea, her
breathtaking beauty overwhelming him. It was as though there was a strange quietness in
the church. He then turned to look out over the love-filled pews. It was strange but he
could hear perfectly just like that night at the base of the Faith, Hope and
Monsignor Grant greeted the people. "Today I have the honor of
joining Marcea and David in the Holy Bond of Matrimony. And as I stand here I can't
remember this church ever being so full of God's children. David would probably tell me
this is some sort of sign." Monsignor Grant paused and smiled at David. "And
today I would agree with him. The sign that I see is God's love in each and every
child here, and that means all of us, as we are all children of God."
The end of a new beginning.