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    Mac Rountree
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Divine Intervention - 24. Icons

Old Christmas 2020

 

Thomas acquiesced to Sean’s demand that they observe Old Christmas on Sunday, January 5th. Sunday was actually Twelfth Night, but they knew it would be challenging to have a big party the next day. Sean said he had Christmas presents for people but hadn’t found the time to finish them by December 25th, so he was giving them on Old Christmas, which was appropriate since they were Russian in style. Sean also said his illness had overshadowed their Christmas, and he wanted a day of celebration. He had disappeared for hours on end the two weeks after Christmas and would come downstairs to eat with Joe, Thomas, and Clay, and then head up the steps again to work on the gifts. Clay would put his head in the door, look at Sean working, and tell him everything was beautiful. Sean would ask him to come in and share a hug. Sean was slowly gaining the little boy’s trust. Joe would knock on the door and tell Sean to open the window because the smell of varnish and paint was not good for his lungs.

On December 25th, Mark had prepared a meal for everyone at the Mill House. Thomas and Joe went to celebrate with their new family. Clay had spent the night with Belinda and Robert while waiting for Santa Claus. Mark had called the men at 6 a.m. to tell them the children were up and for them to appear post haste. Joe and Thomas didn’t bother to change clothes but walked to the Mill House in their pajamas. They walked in the door, and Dan handed them cups of coffee. He looked appropriately disheveled, but the smile on his face was all that mattered. Clay was sitting on the floor in the middle of the room with tears in his eyes. Joe scooped him up and asked why he was crying. Clay sniffled and said he didn’t know what to do. Belinda and Robert were in full-tilt playing with their toys, but Clay had never seen such bounty. Joe sat on the floor with Clay and helped him acclimate to the variety of toys. Belinda was particularly rambunctious, and she had scared Clay. Thomas, Mark, and Dan stood to the side, looking at the mayhem with Joe serving as the gravity force for the three kids. They wanted to show Uncle Joe each and everything that Santa had brought them. Joe had assembled many of the toys but delighted the kids when he acted surprised at everything that Santa had brought to them.

Dan then led them in singing French Christmas carols. He was so patient in teaching them to sing in French. The children had a natural affinity for the language, but the adults were more challenged. Mark let Dan take the lead and beamed as the kids enjoyed Dan’s presence. Thomas and Joe took a cue from Mark on how to engage with Dan. They acted as if there had never been a breach. Robert was even affectionate with Dan because he realized his dad was happy again with Dan being in the house. Robert and Belinda had witnessed their dad over the prior weeks, and Robert decided if Dan brought happiness to his father, then so be it. He would like him also. If needed, he would defend them against the rest of the world.

Thomas thought that Mark was in a level of denial about how badly he had treated Dan. A casual observer would have been hard-pressed to believe there was anything between the two men other than a long-lasting, deep abiding love. The generosity of Dan’s forbearance, willingness to be open to possibilities of being together with Mark and the children, and making himself vulnerable to hurt were perfect for a clinical case study for the healing power of love. Thomas chuckled at himself, thinking that not everything required an assessment through his clinical lens. He told himself to turn off his clinical brain and just enjoy the day.

Mark was very gentle with Dan and deferred to him on most issues that arose during the day. Dan’s generosity of spirit and love at the Christmas Eve service convinced Mark that their love would make them invincible as a couple. Mark had pushed the man away once and decided that would not happen a second time, come what may.

Mark and Dan had prepared a buffet breakfast so people could fix a plate and sit in the great room. Joe was challenged to get Clay to eat any food as the boy had finally relaxed enough to play with some of the toys. Clay was happy, which also scared him because he was wary of being spanked if anything bad happened. In his life, there had always been something bad to happen, and he was always to blame. He was trying to be happy, but he also clearly unsettled. When Thomas said they needed to go home to shower and dress for the day, Clay was in a dither. He needed to be with his papas, but he didn’t want to leave his toys. He kept looking back and forth between the opposing forces of his desires. Finally, Joe picked up a firetruck and said they would take that home and then come back for more. Clay smiled, extended his arms to be picked up, and wrapped his arms around Joe’s neck. Thomas carried the firetruck as they headed to the Yellow House.

Sean went to the Mill House for the delicious meal that was served. He picked at his food and Daddy Joe kept encouraging him to eat more. Sean looked at Joe and reminded him that his young son was now a grown-up. Joe replied that when Sean was fourteen, he almost ate them out of house and home. Sean then headed back to his bed to rest. Sean had very little rest that day as Joe kept coming into his bedroom in the Yellow House to check on him. Sean would tell his dad that he was okay and to enjoy the day with Clay, Belinda, and Robert. Joe tried but couldn’t do it. He was channeling back to what had happened thirty-one years prior. Sean could see it in his eyes; Joe was terrified.

Sean remembered the Twelfth Night party when he first lived with Thomas and Joe at the rectory. It was his mother’s last day before she passed. Before Mary Agnes went to sleep that night, she told Sean how much she loved him and what a fantastic party it had been. She said that she was perfectly at peace with her life because she knew that Joe and Thomas would take care of her son.

 

All of these years later, Thomas planned a big party on Sunday afternoon where people could float in and out. The afternoon would conclude with a “family dinner.” Belinda greeted guests as they came in the front door. Robert was in charge of taking coats and putting them in the downstairs bedroom. Mark and Dan served as bartenders. They giggled and laughed at each other as they tried to concoct various drinks that people requested. They spent almost as much time kissing as preparing drinks, or so it seemed. Thomas thought that over the past two weeks, they had caught up on all of the missed kisses from the time of their separation.

Joe had hired a caterer to feed folks so he and Thomas could enjoy their company. They had the added pleasure of introducing their son, Sean, to people. The Bishop and his wife were the first to appear as he was heading from one church to another. Thomas was pleased he stopped by. The Bishop was confused when he saw Belinda wearing a pectoral cross and asked her where she got it. She said that the Dean of the Chapel had given it to her, which perplexed the Bishop even more. When the Bishop asked Thomas, he was told there wasn’t enough time that day to tell the story of Belinda. Accompanying the Bishop was Sidney Hofler, the young priest whom Thomas was mentoring. Sidney looked at Mark and Dan and thought he saw a connection. He smiled when he saw Mark sneak a kiss with Dan. Sidney wanted that in his life. Not stealing a kiss, but having a handsome partner.

Merchants from the Farmer’s Market started arriving. All of them bought food to be shared. The caterer found room on the dining room table to include their gifts. Brenda and Alice brought some of their vegetarian food, which was greatly desired by some of the guests. Cirese brought cookies with special packages for Belinda, Robert, and Clay. The butcher brought them steaks, and Mary Anne brought them a dozen duck eggs. Thomas knew the eggs would make a delicious souffle. A pair of Master Gardeners who staffed a table at the market arrived with potted plants for Joe and Thomas. Thomas received specific instructions on plant maintenance.

The house was filled with people who were enjoying themselves. Choir members arrived and started singing in the parlor as they stood around the piano. The Dean and clergy from the Chapel arrived and were pleased to be greeted by Belinda. She made sure that her certification was prominently displayed in the foyer that afternoon so all could see that she was honorary clergy at the Chapel. Mike, Mark’s boss, and his wife appeared. Mike enjoyed looking at Joe’s restoration of the house and then Joe and Mark took him to the Mill House to see the renovation. Mike was astounded at the level of master carpentry that went into the project. He asked Joe if he would consider being a consultant for restoration and renovation projects on some of the older buildings on campus. Joe said he loved that work and told Mike about the work he had performed on St. Anselm church and rectory in Philadelphia. Mike was thrilled that he had made that connection. Joe laughed and said it would give him something to do in his spare time; if he could find some.

Evan Glynfell arrived with his girlfriend. She was astounded at the beauty of the house and kept asking Evan how he knew all these people. Evan said they were clients, but he was clear that he couldn’t talk about the legal work he did for them. Joe noticed that Evan had roving eyes when looking at some of the women who were present. He was a good lawyer and apparently also a hound dog. Joe chuckled, remembering his very brief hound dog days.

Millie Tilley and her partner, Evelyn, arrived and started talking with people. One day, while reviewing the Harden case with Judge Woodward, Millie decided to come out to the Judge. She was prepared for his reaction. Ms. Tilley told him that after closing out her caseload, she would be working for Judge Janet Melville. Judge Woodward was angry and asked why she was taking such an action.

“Your prejudice in the Harden case reinforced for me that I had failed not only that family but also other families that had appeared before you. I was concerned about how my peers would analyze my work if it were sent for a second review. I am so deeply sorry. I was afraid and hiding in the closet. I am a lesbian and in a relationship with a woman. She and I are rearing her daughter. I will no longer hide. Judge Melville is assigning me all cases that involve either gay, lesbian, transgender, or questioning youth or parents. She is also concerned about the institutional prejudice against people of color who are also queer. She and I will be working on that issue.”

“I ask that you examine your own prejudices. We had a great working relationship except for that one major area. You are probably not aware of the number of cases that have come before you where there was a sexual “other” involved. Many of the kids you sent to detention or group homes were in court because the parents couldn’t deal with the sexuality of their children. The cases of youth suicide months after a court hearing were primarily because of their sexuality. My research paper on youth suicide in our county is being posted on the Department of Youth and Family Services website. I suggest you read it.”

At that point, Millie packed her briefcase, stood, and extended her hand to the Judge. He turned in his chair. He sat behind his desk and did not look up as Miss Tilley walked out of his office.

The following Monday, she received a letter from the Court Administrator terminating her work with Judge Woodward and that she was immediately assigned to Judge Melville. All of her current cases would be turned over to other workers. After she received the letter, Millie called Mark and told him that she needed to meet with him. Mark almost stroked when he heard what Ms. Tilley said. She apologized and said it was poor word choices on her part. She said that she needed to discuss something personal that was not directly related to the case. Although deep down, it was central to the experience of Mark and his children.

Mark and Millie met at a café directly off the Duke campus. Millie kept twiddling with her straw. She finally raised her head and asked for Mark’s forgiveness. Mark listened to her story and was angry at what he considered deception on her part. He was sympathetic about her living in the closet. Millie apologized for her cowardice. When Millie asked him about his relationship to Dan, a hardened look came across Mark’s face. She reached out to touch his hand and offered words of condolence. Before they finished eating, Mark invited Millie to the party. He hadn’t planned to do that but saw himself in Millie, someone who wrestled with life and finally had to decide on how to move forward with integrity. Mark was glad they were at the party. Millie and Evelyn lived in Durham, which provided just enough distance for Millie to have some privacy in her personal life. This party was the first social event in Hillsborough where she had brought her lover. They looked radiant and happy. Mark and Dan had hugged them when they walked in the door. Millie was surprised when she saw Dan. Before she left, she got Mark’s attention and held her hand up to her ear, signaling that she wanted to talk.

Sean spent a lot of the afternoon in the parlor. He had claimed the wing chair next to the fireplace; he made sure there were sufficient logs on the fire so that he stayed warm. He also took the gifts that people had brought and placed them under the tree. Clay was completely overwhelmed with the number of people in the house, so he planted himself in Sean’s lap or by his side for the afternoon. When Sean would see a wandering lost soul, he would invite the person to sit with him. He had a way of asking questions, which made people feel comfortable and included. Clay would just look back and forth between Sean and whoever he was talking without saying a word. He would have a slight smile on his face. People left knowing that they had been in the presence of a great artist who had the heart of a saint. They were charmed as he held the child in his arms.

At last, the final wave of people had arrived and were enjoying themselves. Thomas had invited people on the half-hour so that there was a constant flow in and out. Every time someone left, Belinda would offer her blessing. The sun was low in the sky and the temperature was dropping as was the energy level of the hosts. The caterers were starting to consolidate food trays and clean glasses and plates collected from around the house. In addition to the party food, they had prepared dinner for the family. Belinda bade the last person goodbye, and Joe secured the front door. It was another successful party given by the two men. They had entertained all of their years of living at the rectory in Philadelphia and enjoyed the social time with other people.

Thomas had invited Sidney Hofler to stay for dinner, which was gladly accepted. All of Sidney’s social engagements for the holidays had been at the homes of parishioners. He was glad to finally be at a home where he could be himself: a handsome, young, gay man who also happened to be a priest and poet. His area of academic expertise was Russian poets from the late 1800s. He and Sean had a detailed discussion about the confluence of Russian art and writing from that time period. Sidney was in his first parish and didn’t want to upset his parishioners by dating a man, so he was appreciative that the weight of his vocation could fall from his shoulders for a short period of time in the home of his mentor. He didn’t have to measure every word or adjust his mannerisms. He could be who he truly was. Sean enchanted Sidney, and even though Sean was older than he wanted in a partner, Sidney found the man bewitching. A stray comment let Sidney understood that Sean was straight; Sidney was delighted, but also sad because he wanted this man in his life. He felt like he had found a soulmate. Sidney and Sean sat by the fireplace, holding hands, telling stories, and laughing. Sidney was such an extrovert and full of funny stories that he made Sean think of Bugboy. Sean gave Sidney a quizzical look, then shook his head, and thought it not possible.

The caterers had set the dining room table and put platters of food out for the family. Sean passed Clay to Sidney. Sidney kissed the top of Clay's head and told him that he was a handsome lad. Clay beamed and kissed Sidney on the cheek. Sean banked the fire in the parlor, and everyone gathered in the dining room. Thomas became very emotional as he looked around the room where he had everyone circle the table. They were all holding hands. Belinda had placed herself between Mark and Dan. Robert was between Mark and Joe. Clay was holding Sidney’s hand. He kept looking up and smiling at the man.

“When Joe and I moved here, we thought we would be two old fogies who would live like recluses, and we hoped that one day we would meet some people. We knew that eventually, we would make friends, but it would take time. We didn’t know God would give us a family so quickly. Many years ago, a certain fortune teller informed me that we would have many children in our lives. She was undeniably right. God has been good to us through the years, and tonight we remember Sean’s mother, Mary Agnes. She passed into glory thirty-one years ago today. Tonight, we honor and remember her.”

Thomas gave grace for the bounty of food and friendship. Thomas then said they would go around the circle and each person had to say one thing they were grateful for in the past year. Thomas agreed to start and was naming numerous things; Joe reminded him that they were to say only one thing. Thomas laughed and said that his life had been so bountiful he couldn’t stop at one thing. Everyone laughed. Sean laughed and said he might be cheating, but he was thankful for his daddy/papa. He said it as one word. Everyone agreed that it was okay for him to cheat a little. Joe said he was thankful for the continued love and support of Thomas, who had been his partner for thirty-one years. Robert said he was grateful to his sister, Belinda, because through her bravery, she had shown him how to be his true self. He looked at her and told her that he loved her. Mark was practically in tears at the heartfelt love between his children. Mark had a smile on his face and said he was thankful for the love and understanding of his family. He then leaned over and kissed Dan on the lips. Belinda looked around and said she loved everyone but was so thankful to have Sister Mary Agnes guiding her life. People were astounded by her answer. Dan smiled and said he, too, was happy to now have this family back in his life. He leaned into Belinda, Mark, and Robert and gave them a group hug. Dan was surprised when Robert kissed him on the cheek. Sidney said he was thankful to be mentored by Thomas, who was teaching him so much about ministry, and he was grateful to be invited to share a meal with the family. Clay said one word: daddy. Everyone noticed that Clay looked at Sidney when he said that. Clay sat beside Sidney at dinner and would sneak food off of Sidney’s plate. He would giggle when Sidney would catch him. It became their game. Before the meal was over, Clay was sitting in Sidney’s lap while the priest fed him. It was a moment of grace and trust between the two.

Belinda walked up to Sean and said she wanted to sit beside him while they ate. Throughout the meal, Belinda quizzed him about his mother. She said that she had no memory of her mother, Linda, and wondered what it would be like to have a mother. Sean told her about his mother always protecting him and guiding him to be his best self. Belinda continued her questioning. Sean reached far back in his memory to talk about his mother. He said she was always mystical and very spiritual but not very religious. Sean said that there one principle his mother abided by: love. She was always a fount of love for Sean. Sean and Belinda both felt they connected through Mary Agnes.

After dinner, Sean said he had Epiphany gifts for everyone. They all said they didn’t know they were supposed to bring presents. Sean laughed and said that was his plan because the party was all about him. The adults laughed while Belinda and Robert scratched their heads, wondering what that meant. Everyone settled in the parlor. Sean told them that it was the love of Thelma and Jimmy that had allowed him to live his life as an artist. They had named him as their heir, and he now lived in their Philadelphia home and had a studio in an old warehouse that had been converted into artist studios. He said the gifts were given in loving memory of Thelma and Jimmy Whitehurst.

Sean handed a package to Thomas and Joe. It was an icon that portrayed Thomas, Joe, and Sean. Joe had a halo around his head. Saint Thomas, the doubter, was standing to the side as he looked at Saint Joseph and Sean, a young boy. Sean was written with his chest opened, which exposed his sacred beating heart and his healed lungs. There was a ray of light that illuminated St. Joseph, who had carpenter’s tools at his feet. Sean was leaning into St. Joseph wearing the Elizabethan ruff that Elaine had made for him those many years ago. Thomas was holding a Voodoo Doll, Dammit Doll, and a Cross in his left hand, and he had a beatific smile on his face. He was reaching out to Sean and Joe with his right hand while making a sign of peace. The angelic background was filled with the faces of the kids from the 1988 Christmas pageant.

Thomas gasped and then started tearing up while looking at the image. Joe focused on the sacred heart and healed lungs. The symbolism would be explored over time as Thomas and Joe moved deeper into studying the icon. Everyone complimented Sean on his mastery of painting. Sean smiled and thanked them.

“This is probably too esoteric and might not mean anything to you, but you do not paint icons, rather you write them. You write the story in images. Each icon is an important story that I wrote through imagery in oil on wood.”

Sidney shifted Clay, who was sitting on his lap and started reciting a poem from the great Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin. He spoke in Russian, and Sean was able to understand a few bits and pieces of the poem. The melodic rise and fall of Sidney’s voice carried everyone to another place and time. It didn’t matter that they couldn’t understand the words. The emotions were easily conveyed.

Sean stood, looked at Joe, smiled the same way he had thirty-one years prior, and recited the nativity story from the Gospel of Luke. He still remembered the power of that reading. People sat in silence to reflect what had just happened. Joe leaned against Thomas, remembering the beauty of that night.

Next, Sean handed a package to Mark and Dan. Again, it was an icon. Sean wrote Mark as St. Mark, the Evangelist Lion, who had the sword of righteousness in his hand. Dan was the Old Testament Prophet Daniel, who had been put in the lion’s den and yet lived through the night. In the image, the two men were holding hands. It was as if Daniel had proved his worth to Mark, or maybe Mark had accepted Dan for who he was. Both Dan and Mark had on Roman soldier’s breastplates with the initials S & B engraved on them. They looked strong and fierce. Belinda and Robert had on battle armor as they prepared to fight for their life as a family. There were Russian words around the edge of the icon. Sean said the icon was dedicated to Saints Serge and Bacchus, who were two lovers who died for their belief in living and loving together as a couple.

“There is a lot of power in that icon. Notice that you are front and center with your children on either side. Behind you in the background are other pairs of lovers who fought side by side for their right to love each other. I believe in the power of icons, so always be careful with it. All of those lovers were written and know your written story and will be there to protect you. Pray to it when you have to fight for each other and your family. Your desires and needs will be granted. The background is an image of Algiers. You are destined to live a vibrant and fulfilled life in Algiers.”

Mark was squeezing Dan’s hand. Was it possible? Were he and the children moving to Algiers to live with Dan? Mark knew it was his deepest desire for it to be true; he drew a deep breath of acceptance and turned to Dan, smiled, and nodded his head. Dan hugged Mark and kissed his eyelids. They knew their lives together would be forever.

Sidney started reciting the “Liturgy for Sts. Serge and Bacchus.” He closed his eyes and swayed during his recitation. Clay had fallen asleep in Sidney’s arms, and his swaying was rocking the child. It looked perfectly natural that Sidney was holding the little boy. The only other sound was the hissing of the logs in the fireplace. When he said, “Amen,” he opened his eyes and realized that everyone was looking at him in awe. They all said, “Amen” as a response.

Robert’s icon was written as a man with a halo, riding on a white horse, carrying the banner of St. George of Jerusalem. Sitting behind him on the horse was a fair-haired maiden who had her arm around his waist. Upon closer inspection, Robert understood that it was Belinda. There were dragons around the horse that Robert had slain. An angel looked down from the firmament that radiated beams of light on them. The angel was Linda, their mother.

“Robert, you will always be protected, and you will always protect Belinda. Your entire life will be devoted to the protection of your sister and what she is called to do with her life. You, too, will have a very gifted and fulfilled life, but you will always be her protector. Your mother is your guardian angel and will always be by your side. Robert, your name translates as Azriel in Hebrew, and it means ‘God is my aid,’ so you have both God and your mother protecting you.”

Dan looked at Mark, and they nodded their heads; they telepathically knew what the other was thinking. They started singing the John Rutter hymn of blessing, “God Be In My Head.” Robert got up from where he was sitting, crossed the room, and sat beside Belinda. He put his arm across her shoulder.

Sidney was enjoying himself as he looked at the beautiful icons. The feelings of love and caring among the family members filled the room with peace, love, and fulfillment that could only emanate from the divine. His own senses were overflowing with compassion and care for each person. He was grateful that he had been allowed to witness this miraculous family gathering. The sharing of the many artistic gifts was an added gift. He was amazed at Sean’s mastery of technique and the power of the icons. Hearing Dan and Mark sing had moved him tremendously. Sidney was startled when Sean handed him a package. Sean said it was a gift for Clay. Sidney was setting it aside when Sean told him to open it.

The icon was the writing of Clay being presented at Temple as a twelve-year-old boy. Holding his hand as he was being blessed, was Sidney. Joe stood to the side and had a hand on Sidney’s shoulder. Thomas was conducting the blessing. Sidney didn’t know what to make of the icon but was awed by its beauty.

Thomas recognized the Temple as St. George’s Chapel in Jerusalem. Joe stood, and in a halting voice, recited the Bishop’s affirmation from the Service of Confirmation.

Almighty and Everliving God, let your fatherly hand ever be over Clay; let your Holy Spirit be with him; and so lead Clay in the knowledge and obedience of your Word, that he may serve you in this life, and dwell with you in the life to come. Amen.

Thomas was dumbstruck by Joe’s recitation. He had no idea that his husband had memorized blessings from the Prayer Book. Joe had never told Thomas he had memorized the baptism, confirmation, and commitment services from thirty-one years prior. That day had been life-changing for Joe, and he had written the words of the blessings on his heart. He was now passing one of the blessings to Clay. The big burly Highlander continued to surprise his Lord Posh.

Sean then handed Sidney another package. Sidney was even more surprised when he looked at the icon and saw an image of St. Thomas leading a young man down a road. Thomas was dressed in a white robe and had a halo around his head. The young man was wearing a natural colored linen robe and was listening to what the older man was saying. They were both shod in sandals. Sidney realized the young man was him. How had Sean written him into both of these icons? He had not met Sean until that very afternoon.

Thomas stood and started reciting a reading from the Gospel of Thomas. His voice enthralled everyone. He finished by saying, “The Gospel of the Lord,” and everyone voiced the response.

“Sidney, you have found your mentor/twin in Thomas. The name Thomas in Aramaic means twin. He is often called Didymus Thomas. Didymus in Greek means twin. So, you have met your twin in ministry. It is written in the icon. Not just for the present time, but for the rest of your life. Thomas is passing his knowledge of ministry and compassion for people to you. You are now part of our family, whether you like it or not.” Sean grinned when he said that. “I think you have also found the son you have always wanted.” Sean smiled, looking as Clay, who had nestled deeper into Sidney’s chest. “Before she died, my mother told me I would have a brother. Sean, you are my brother. I know that with every fiber of my being. She also said a young girl would save my life. Belinda, you recently saved my life. Tonight, the second of my mother’s two prophecies is fulfilled. I am thinking of the Song of Simeon, but I hope I have a few more years left to live. Simeon saw the Christ Child and knew that the prophecy from God had been fulfilled and that he could die in peace. I would ask God for time, so I can get to know my brother.”

Sidney was at a loss for words, which was rare for him. He knew that this was of God, and he didn’t question why. Sidney also knew that he and Thomas had forged a bond that would last his lifetime, he had found a brother in Sean, and he had a long-desired son.

Dan had a sly smile and started singing “The Long and Winding Road.” Others joined him, which lightened the mood. The song quickly dissolved into noise as the non-singers tried their best to sing. Everyone laughed as Dan pushed them through to the end. Everyone agreed it sounded awful, but they didn’t care. Singing together had provided a nice emotional break, and they got up to find something to drink and eat. Sean put another log on the fire. They reassembled, knowing that the gift-giving was not finished.

Sean looked at Belinda and said he had a special icon for her. She opened the package and saw a kneeling woman taking care of a sick child who was on a stretcher. The young woman was Belinda, and the sick child was Sean. Belinda noticed something remarkable about the icon. As she turned it side to side in her hands, another figure was at the sick child’s side. The person looked like Sister Mary Agnes when it was turned in one direction and then an unknown woman when she moved it. She kept shifting it back and forth. Belinda showed everyone the icon.

“Uncle Sean, who is the woman?”

“There is no woman, Belinda. I wrote her out.”

“There is Sister Mary Agnes, and then I see a woman I don’t know.”

Sean gasped. He had written that part of the story three times. First, Sean had written his mother on one side of the sick child. It didn’t feel like the fulfillment of the story, and he wrote her out; instead, he wrote the story of a man. Again, he didn’t believe it told the full story, and then his hand wrote in a plain background where the figures had been. He moved next to Belinda as she moved the icon. He could clearly see the man and then his mother. He told Belinda that his mother was the woman and that her name was Mary Agnes. Belinda said that the man was Sister Mary Agnes, whom she had met at the pride parade. They handed the icon to the others, yet no one else could see the figures except for Sean and Belinda. Sean took Belinda’s hand.

“You are destined to care for the ‘others’ in our community. You will be their voice. You will live an authentic life as an ‘other.’ You will help people understand the power and gift of living an authentic life outside the norm of society. You also have the gift of healing. You have a holy power for the healing of spirit and life. You brought me back from death. I can’t explain the power of this icon, but this is the result when I tried to write an icon for you. It wrote itself when my hand followed the petitions of my soul. I owe you my life, and others will feel the same way over time.”

Robert stood and started reciting Canto VI of “The Lady of the Lake.” Everyone sat in astonishment. The quiet, shy boy revealed another side of himself. No one knew he was a Sir Walter Scott fan. Robert read Scott because of his love and devotion to his Uncle Joe. Belinda stood and hugged her brother for his gift of the poem. Mark couldn’t speak because he was so emotional and proud; Dan hugged and kissed him.

Sean then said he had a group present. He held up a larger icon that included all of them, along with Thelma, Jimmy, Keith, and Bugboy. Sister Mary Agnes and his mother, Mary Agnes, were written as Jesus and Mary. They were on a mountain top along with the great prophets Moses and Elijah at a time of transfiguration. Belinda was at the center of the painting and was being transfigured. Her hair was like flames of fire. She had sprouted wings. She was levitating above the mountain top. She had her arms spread, and her fingers were giving the signs of peace. Her smile was radiant. There were rays of light emanating from the Bishop’s crucifix, which was centered on her chest. Joseph and Mary were standing to the side of the icon, smiling on as the proud parents. Everyone else in the painting was kneeling with looks of adoration and awe. Cardinals were flying above the assembled acolytes.

Dan started singing the “Nunc Dimittis” composed by Alexander Gretchaninov. Mark joined him. The beauty of the Russian anthem and their joined voices stilled the hearts and minds of all. After it finished, Sean moved and sat beside his new brother, Sidney. He took Sidney’s hand in his. They turned and looked at each other before hugging. Clay awoke and put his arms around each of the men pulling them close. He kissed their cheeks. Sean looked around the room and saw that everyone was paired. No one was alone. Sean looked at Sidney and Clay and knew that God’s prophesy for his own life had been fulfilled, and his newly found brother would not be alone in the future.

In his own way, Sean had written the lives of the people in his life. They had all been transfigured through their love and care for each other. Their lives, and those whom they loved, had been recognized for the goodness in their souls. The quietness of the night enveloped them as they sat reflecting on their lives found in Sean’s writing of the icons.

 

FINIS

 

 

Thank you for reading "Divine Intervention." I would greatly appreciate your taking the time to recommend the book to other readers. You can do so from the landing page for the story. My many thanks for all of the comments, suggestions, and corrections. I love telling stories and love that you enjoy reading them.

Until the next time,

Mac

Copyright © 2019 Mac Rountree; All Rights Reserved.

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Chapter Comments

O M G, Mac. 

WOW cant begin to describe what I'm feeling.

This 'Finis' chapter, with the family connections and Sean's gifts of Iconography to the family is truly a blessing,.

On this Good Friday when the world is looking for resurrection (and salvation) from Covid19, your closure of 'Divine Intervention' gives HOPE (writ large).

Thank you. Keep safe. Stay well. Write more (that last part is me being a little greedy, ahead of looking for dark chocolate Easter eggs).

Tony ;-)

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I've said it before, but there is only one word to summarize my feelings about the power of this story:  WOW!!!  It is so rare to find the depth that accompanies this story.  Thank you, Mac, for sharing this story!

Tony

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WOW is correct!  A powerfully emotional ending to this wonderful story. And yes it is fitting that today is Good Friday!

Thank you Mac and to everyone during this difficult time - be safe.

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1 hour ago, Anton_Cloche said:

O M G, Mac. 

WOW cant begin to describe what I'm feeling.

This 'Finis' chapter, with the family connections and Sean's gifts of Iconography to the family is truly a blessing,.

On this Good Friday when the world is looking for resurrection (and salvation) from Covid19, your closure of 'Divine Intervention' gives HOPE (writ large).

Thank you. Keep safe. Stay well. Write more (that last part is me being a little greedy, ahead of looking for dark chocolate Easter eggs).

Tony 😉

Tony,

Many thanks.  I hope that the closing chapter does give hope during the Eastertide season and also as we try to stay safe from Covid19.

I love dark chocolate Easter Eggs.  My usual source for homemade eggs is closed this year.  Sigh.........LOL, there are many things worse than not having dark chocolate.

Thank you for reading the book.

Blessings to you and yours.

Mac

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1 hour ago, pvtguy said:

I've said it before, but there is only one word to summarize my feelings about the power of this story:  WOW!!!  It is so rare to find the depth that accompanies this story.  Thank you, Mac, for sharing this story!

Tony

Tony,

Thank you my friend.  Have a blessed Easter.

Mac

Edited by Mac Rountree
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55 minutes ago, KayDeeMac said:

WOW is correct!  A powerfully emotional ending to this wonderful story. And yes it is fitting that today is Good Friday!

Thank you Mac and to everyone during this difficult time - be safe.

KayDeeMac,

Thank you very much for reading the book.  Last week, I thought about how to post the chapters so the last chapter was released on Good Friday.  I felt that it was the perfect time.

Stay safe and have a wonderful Eastertide season.

Mac

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5 minutes ago, starboardtack said:

Thank you for this most beautiful story.

Starboardtack,

Thank you for reading the book!  I am so very appreciative of my readers.

Blessings,

Mac

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Mac I read many stories but seldom does one touch me the way this one has. From the very first chapter all I get was love. Such an uplifting story what an ending that hart warming. I will be watching for more from you keep up the great writing. 

Darell

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Thankyou MacRountree. 

Have a Happy Easter.

Stay safe, everyone.

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2 hours ago, brbear1 said:

Mac I read many stories but seldom does one touch me the way this one has. From the very first chapter all I get was love. Such an uplifting story what an ending that hart warming. I will be watching for more from you keep up the great writing. 

Darell

Darell,

Thank you very much.  A few years ago, I realigned my philosophy and theology to one that is love based.  

I have other books posted on this site.  I started my next book,  "And A Child is Born" yesterday so it will be a couple of months before I post anything.

My best,

Mac

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47 minutes ago, Tonyr said:

Thankyou MacRountree. 

Have a Happy Easter.

Stay safe, everyone.

Tonyr,

Happy Easter to you also.

Thank you for reading the book.

Mac

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3 hours ago, Mac Rountree said:

Darell,

Thank you very much.  A few years ago, I realigned my philosophy and theology to one that is love based.  

I have other books posted on this site.  I started my next book,  "And A Child is Born" yesterday so it will be a couple of months before I post anything.

My best,

Mac

Months?😢

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My heart is full, and my eyes are overflowing. I will probably go back and reread this chapter after my mind has settled. This ending was amazing and beautiful! Although I need to say you must have been pulling my leg when I asked for the HEA, and you responded like you didn't know what I was talking about. This ending was spiritual and way beyond HEA! Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. I am pretty sure I was captured after the first sentence! I will be looking forward to your next story. Thanks again. 

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2 hours ago, Tonyr said:

Months?😢

Tonyr,

Sorry, buddy.  I have just written one chapter and I have a lot more to write and figure out before I start posting.  As soon as I feel comfortable to start posting I will let you know.

Mac

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1 hour ago, JeffreyL said:

My heart is full, and my eyes are overflowing. I will probably go back and reread this chapter after my mind has settled. This ending was amazing and beautiful! Although I need to say you must have been pulling my leg when I asked for the HEA, and you responded like you didn't know what I was talking about. This ending was spiritual and way beyond HEA! Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. I am pretty sure I was captured after the first sentence! I will be looking forward to your next story. Thanks again. 

Jeffrey,

Thank you for such wonderful comments about your emotional response.  I see the ending as spiritual and open to possibilities for all of the characters.  I foresee what Mark's job will be when they are based in Algiers.  I anticipate that Joe and Thomas have a rocket ride of a future in the Middle East - Thomas will have a position at St. George's and Joe will be assisting Mark as he travels around Europe inspecting buildings where students are being housed and educated.  Sidney and Clay end up in Philadelphia.  Sean has already told us his story.  Belinda will open the world to the possibilities of a transgender priestess of healing and love with her brother by her side.   So many possibilities.  

Settle your mind and reread the story.  I have read it countless times and feel so fortunate that these characters let me write their story.  I get teary each time I read about the Christmas Pageant and Sean gifting icons.

Blessings to you at this Eastertide.

Mac

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Well that was glorious, in every sense of the word.  That chapter was suffused in peace, calm, certainty and love.

In the case of Mark and Dan, I was surprised at the choice of Algiers over Paris.  Algeria is beautiful but not accepting of same-sex relationships.  And Belinda would go to prison.  But this is fiction, and Algiers holds a mystique over even Paris.

 

 

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12 hours ago, Brokenbind said:

Well that was glorious, in every sense of the word.  That chapter was suffused in peace, calm, certainty and love.

In the case of Mark and Dan, I was surprised at the choice of Algiers over Paris.  Algeria is beautiful but not accepting of same-sex relationships.  And Belinda would go to prison.  But this is fiction, and Algiers holds a mystique over even Paris.

 

 

Dear Brokenbind,

Thank you for the compliments.  You named exactly what I was hoping to achieve.

I went back and forth many times about whether Mark and Dan were going to Paris or Algiers.  There were pros and cons for each.  I chose the riskier pathway.  It is fiction but there has to be a basis of realism.  I will continue to ponder.

Thank you for reading the book.  I have always valued your feedback.

Mac

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