The Stormy Night

The old priest stood by the big front doors of the church and watched the blizzard. “I feel like I’m in a snow globe,” he said to only the falling snow.  After a few moments of reflection, he closed the doors and shuffled back inside the chapel.  Most of the parishioners stayed home locked safely in their warm houses, only a few of the regulars braved the snowstorm to come to church that evening.  After seven o’clock, nobody came.  The chapel was empty except for one man who had been sitting on the same pew for most of the evening.

It was not an unfamiliar sight to the priest.  He had seen more than a few poor souls racked with torment and guilt.  But this man didn’t once look around to find a priest or to search out a confessional, he kept to himself.  That intrigued the old cleric.

The priest watched all evening as the younger man alternated positions of having his head rest on the pew in front of him and stretching back and looking at the ceiling.  Even though his old body was beginning to slow down, the priest was proud of the fact he still had a pretty good memory – especially when it came to faces.  He knew he had never seen the young man in the church before.

 

The priest started a systematic check of each row to make sure hymnals were put away.  As he worked his way down the chapel, row by row, he glanced at the man from time to time.  When he finally got to the man’s row, he asked, “Excuse me, are there any hymn books on this row?

The man, who appeared to be about thirty, looked to the side of him and then back at the priest.  “No, sir.”

“Mind if I sit?”  The priest pointed to the pew in front of the man.

The younger man sat up and straightened his tie.  “I’m not a member,” he said and waved his hand to signify the building.  “I just came in here because I need a place to think.”

“Oh yes,” the priest nodded his head and sat down.  “Everyone is welcome here.”

The young man looked at the priest and forced a laugh.

The priest looked at the expensive suit on the young man and noticed it seemed to contradict his appearance.  It had been soaked through with snow and still looked pretty damp.  A puddle of muddy water formed at his feet from snow.  It also looked as if he had worn that suit for several days and it had been awhile since he had shaved.   His black, thick hair had apparently been greased back at one time, but now was frizzing giving the young man a wild appearance.  “You don’t believe me?”  The priest rested his right stubby leg on the bench so that he could see the young man’s face.

The man played with a wedding band in his fingers and stared down at the floor.

“My son, what troubles you?”

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