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Gabriel's Creek

315 pages5 hours


Chris Collins is a husband and father, prompted to find the depth of his faith to deal with his new diagnosis of a terminal illness. Seeking sanctuary, he chooses to spend one of his final days doing something he loves: walking 18 holes of golf. Little does he know that he is headed for an introspective day in a delightful and uniquely special place, Gabriel’s Creek Golf Course.

Drawn away from his intended playing location to this uncharted track, Collins meets and grows comfortable with its staff, including their adorable mascot, a Border Collie named Ralphie. A special breakfast ends with the Pro’s caution, “This place is magical...You’ll see what I mean.” Ralphie becomes part companion, part guide throughout Collins’ round of reflections.

Chris is inspired by a variety of characters he meets, some familiar and some not, but all unexpected. Their interfaces with his life show much about who Collins is, who he was, and who he now believes he should have been. Both his pride and regrets surface from a review of how he treasured his relationships.

The interactions of the round force Collins to face several tests of his faith, including as he remembers accepting his wife’s infidelity and its fallout. Among the darkest of these issues is his fear of judgment for the uncertainty of his role in the murder of a business opponent.

The crossroads of his childhood, scholastic years, business executive and family-rearing lives all fall under review while Collins negotiates Gabriel’s Creek. The holes he plays during his round include being whisked by unknown forces to golf courses around the country and the world. Like those other players that join him for fleeting stretches, some are familiar to him and some are not. Is it time travel, or is it just the enchantment of Gabriel’s Creek?

His interaction with other characters blends with his memories of bygone places and times, leading him to learn many lessons of life too late. As he plays, these insights lead Collins to make plans to apply his newfound knowledge to outstanding life issues before his coming death. Like so many of us do, Collins learns the hard way that procrastination can be costly.

Chris is not so much fearful as curious about what is coming. Through the round, he wonders what the transition from this life to the next will be. He is staggered by the fact that every living thing experiences death, but advance details of the trip are clear to no one. The more he speculates about his coming encounter, the more he is comforted by the strengthening of faith he’s gained with his walk through Gabriel’s Creek.

Through what has become an emotional day, his inspirational round reinforces the notion that we should all treat each day of life as a gift.

The 18th hole is more than the end of Chris’ round. On that final green so much comes into clear focus; Collins finds that Gabriel’s Creek Golf Course exists in neither the earthly nor the next world, but perhaps somewhere in between.

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