Sunday, November 7, 2010
Bring It On
The frost was already an eighth of an inch thick on the windows of the cottage. Dale had just finished his correspondence to the Diocese at St. John's. He heard the soft chatter and giggles of Lydia and young son Derek in the other larger living room doing home-school lessons.
They had been absolutely right. The numbing dampness and lifeless gray of late October in Labrador was no small challenge to the spirits or constitution. He had accepted this missions assignment in full knowledge of the fact that their predecessors had lasted only eleven months. How strange it seemed that this one-time insurance salesman from Halifax should now find himself on the other side of seminary, a fairly placid eighteen months' under-study at Cornerbrook and a double reading of the medical-missions exploits of Grenfell; now stationed with aboriginal peoples in their preparations for the long winter.
He and Lydia maintained the assurance that they had heard from God following prayer that night in their apartment thirty months ago. A whole package of missions opportunities had arrived in the mail two days before. Their small Anglican fellowship had just finished a week of meetings with "Straight-Eye" a charismatic Inuit lay preacher from up the coast. (A Federal program had gotten him a scholarship in Sociology in St. John's and he had continued through grit and many a part-time job to the Masters level. He wanted skills, hope, methods and resources to take back to his hurting, challenged and largely ignored people. Seven months back "on the land", his humanistic hopes collapsed at the foot of the Cross of Calvary. A new life was launched. That was fifteen years ago.)
Dale put his papers and Bible onto the desk at the corner of the "study". Funny how he had turned to his own note written on the inside jacket months before:
"Bring on this day. Bring on this opportunity for God to manifest to us His glory, love and covenant care through Christ Jesus."
How strange the words seemed recently. The relentless aching cold. The persistent half-light. The repetitive quiet hours offering help at the town garage where trucks, launches, snowmobiles and all-terrains were a steady fare with Ernie the half-breed mechanic and his wife Justine from Montreal. Ernie had been one of the first in attendance at the small chapel. He delighted in telling his people how Jesus had gotten him off the streets, the illegal gambling joints and the booze and drugs of that Quebec metropolis.
Dale was jarred by the sound of a slow, determined knock at the front door. Lydia answered it quickly, and hurriedly ushered the visitor inside to the warmth. It was Blossom and she appeared to have been harshly man-handled. Blood on the top of the forehead and a rising welt at the left cheek. Her coat was only half on, and the "Canadiens" sweat-shirt underneath all askew. The laces of one boot remained untied.
One sentence said it all: "Jimmy was at it again." By that she meant that her current common-law had binged for the weekend and returned mid-Monday morning looking for trouble. He was in fact the cousin of her ex-husband Marc. Took her in after Marc found another mate more to his liking. Blossom was crippled in one leg from a snowmobile accident. She had proved barren after four years of marriage involving desperate attempts to become pregnant. The traveling medical team at Holy Cross clinic had applied all of their knowledge, but to no avail. Ironically Marc and Lila were now enjoying their fourth month with baby Joseph.
Derek knew well enough to go to his room as his parents cradled Blossom to a comfortable wing-chair complete with blanket.
Dale uttered a quick and silent prayer: "Use us now Father to pour in the oil and hope...and yes, Father, bring it on..." He offered Blossom the hot, wet wash cloth and tissues. Lydia was in the kitchenette for hot tea and toast.
An insolent wind shook the front door.