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Archive for August 23rd, 2015

9

Cooper sat on the end of the front pew and listened to the growing silence as the last of the attendees made their way out of the cathedral’s massive front doors.  Now that no one was around, he loosened his tie, and undid the top button of his shirt.  He felt tired.  Not the blind fatigue that marked the last three months, but the kind of tired that comes from an honest day’s work.  He knew he’d sleep well tonight.  He smiled as he bent over to pick up the program that someone had carelessly dropped to the floor.  His name wasn’t the only one on it, but he chuckled softly as he read his name, unable to concentrate on any of the others.  He’d reflected on the fickleness of fate, and how it would take an outcast and a refugee, who no longer had a country, and elevate him to the position he currently occupied.

“Sir?  Sir?”

Cooper was jerked out of his reverie, and silently cursed himself for not hearing the approach of the sergeant standing in front of him.  “I’m sorry, sergeant.  I’m afraid I was so lost in thought that I didn’t hear you approach.  How can I help?”

“I’m not sure, sir.  I heard the sermon.  I listened all the way through, which surprised me.”

“It’s ok.  I’m still surprised at the idea of giving one.”

“Yes, well…I guess that’s what I wanted to ask you about.  I found that part interesting.  The part about how you weren’t always a believer.  I was wondering…”

“How that changed?”

“Well, yes, sir.”

“I grew up with it in my family, so it wasn’t something I was unfamiliar with, but I guess I’d have to say that it wasn’t until I started reading that,” his hand reached out to the small, snap cover leather-bound Bible in the sergeant’s hand “that I started to look at things I was already seeing in a different light.  I suppose it is a cliché, but I don’t think a genuine belief is something I could lead someone else to.  They have to find it for themselves.  The best advice I can give you, sergeant, is to read it on your own.  Try to read three chapters a day, and then spend some time thinking about what you read.  If you can make the time, and you dedicate the effort necessary, I think that you won’t be able to help from coming to a genuine and sincere belief on your own.”

The sergeant was quiet for a moment.  Then he collected himself, and said “Thank you, Commander.  I’ve taken enough of your time.”

Cooper looked at the sergeant, and said “Not at all, sergeant.  I’m pretty sure that’s the reason I’m here, and I’m always a little surprised that this is the work my sovereign has me doing.  Everyone seems to be helped by it, no matter how inadequate I feel about it.”

The sergeant looked at him for a moment, his expression unchanging, even as a smile as big as the sun started shining in his eyes.  “Well, then, if that’s the case…”

Cooper allowed a trace of a smile to cross his lips in response.  “Yes?”:

“Sir, the only reason I came today is because some of my men wanted to come, and they asked me to come with them until I said yes.  But I stayed…I stayed because something you said resonated with me.  Our unit leaves tomorrow.  I was wondering if you could come by and counsel some of them.  It would mean a lot.  They won’t tell us where we are going, and in my experience, that usually isn’t good.”

Cooper looked at the sergeant’s unit patch, and realized that he knew where the sergeant was going, and that it wasn’t good.  “Of course I will, sergeant.  In fact, Lt. Col. Gearhart, and I have to drive by there on our way back to where we’re staying.  Why don’t you ride with us?”

Cooper and the sergeant started down the long aisle to the doors, with Rick and Lise in tow.  Rick asked Lise “I guess this means that we’re not getting back to the residence for a awhile?”

Lise, who had been smiling, said “Shhhh!” before saying “I think sleepless nights are about to take on a brand new meaning, Col. Gearhart.

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