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Lamb Chop cried in the darkness of the loft that night, while clouds scuttled across

the face of a pale dead moon. Sister Maria let her cry. Sometimes people had to do
that without interruption, without being shushed to death and told that it was
alright, things would get better. It had been a lot to handle hearing the dead
essence of Olivia, Faye and Jordan.

"They're dead," Sister Maria told her.


"I know. I was scared. Am I dead, too?"
"No, you're not dead and everybody's scared."
"Do we pray for them sister maria?"
"Especially me, and I'm supposed to be the strong one.

Lambchop closed her eyes. Our sorrows at the death of a believer are joyful
sorrows Sister Maria explained. and our rejoicing at the death of a believer is
a sorrowful rejoicing. There is nothing hopeless about the sorrow. And there is
nothing flippant about the joy. The joy hurts. And the sorrow is softened with
invincible hope. Her tone reflected no concern whatever. Neither did her eyes.
Lambchops steady breathing indicated the beginning of
sleep. Mean Joe quit smiling. The fragrance of Opium perfume drifted up from the
pillowcases.

The woman would never awaken, she had no mechanism for it. But she would
become fully aware of her true state and look herself in the eye and probably
scream. Maybe he was using the wrong expression, Mean Joe thought. Maybe it
wasn't a question of the woman becoming aware, because the message had been
passed to her a hundred times: "For you, there isn't any more." He'd stood at her
shoulder as she stared out at the squirrels that day and realised that she didn't
exist. No word for the state of her mind in that one moment really fit except the
word "nonexistent." Because as she stood there for that one brief moment, he'd
made sure that no Troop member passed her anything to divert her attention from
what he wanted her to know: no problems, no emotions, no feelings, no nothing,
had passed to her from anyone, including himself. And she had grasped the reality
of her state of being; he had felt it. Except that she was like a lamp with its cord
unplugged from the socket. That's how much it had affected her.
He signaled and the long-dead image of Olivia I inserted a piece of recall in the
woman's mind ... she was almost 16 years old at that time sitting on her bed with a
typewriter infront of her. Walls and floorboards rattled with the gusts of icy wind.
The room filled with raw winter light glinting off the snowbanks outside. THE
CREATOR. The woman carefully typed these letters.
To admit that the world has a Creator is to admit that this world has a reason, a
purpose. To admit that there is a Designer is to admit that there is a moral order, a
functional order, a right and a wrong, a better and worse way to live life. To admit
that this world was created is to admit that you have a responsibility for how you
have treated others, how you have lived. And the standard for judging your actions
is not you. Its outside of you. And everybody knows instinctively that they have
fallen short of the glory they were made for.
Olivia's features shifted and Elvira looked down in the typewriter with a fuller face
and younger eyes.

Because the woman's mind was open now, Mean Joe knew with this recall that
Olivia I had her faith solely for Christianity pinned Elvira like a fish on a hook,
wriggling and screaming protests, he let Olivia proceed. Right into the woman's
helpless mind, he allowed the insertion of one more picture.
Sunlight shot through the classroom window, although the window itself was hazy.
The dust motes were much clearer, dancing in the hot summer air. She defended
and spoke
The strange Christian story we celebrate at Christmas turns out to align far better
with the human condition and experience. Its themes of good and evil, of purpose,
providence, sacrificial love, justice, mercy, grace, redemption, forgiveness, and
immortality resonate deeply within us. And we find them woven into all the
greatest, most beloved stories humans ever tell. I suggest there is a clue to note
here.
The strange Christmas story offers us good news of great joy that will be for all the
people (Luke 2:10). The strange materialism story offers us bad news of a great
hopelessness that will be for all the universes.
At bottom, the difference between faith in God and all other alternatives is a choice:
to believe or not to believe. But this is no blind leap of faith.
Certainly, faith is not exhaustive knowledge or complete understanding. Faith
believes certain things that are unseen. But we do not believe the unseen things
based on nothing. Faith is not a shot in the dark. Faith is not a good guess.
Faith sees the stars and gapes in wonder. Faith sees a little baby in her mothers
arms and blinks back tears of astonishment. Faith sees even evil, mind-numbing
atrocities and aches with revulsion. But these realities do not add up to nothing.
They are parts of a story, lines in a poem, and the punch line is God, a good and
loving Creator, and a world bracing with beauty, slashed and cracked with evil and
sin.

That was all because Mean Joe let the picture fade away. So she didn't know why
these were shown. What significance is faith to her current state. What God has to
do with the life that weren't her own; that there should be a very good reason why
all recall seemed like a movie of someone else's life.

Mean Joe did move then, assuring her as much as he dared that the image had
meaning, that her literary works about God and Faith had a definite purpose. On
hearing his words the woman did not move. She stood like a stone with dread rising
in her throat until it formed an ice-cold knot.

Suddenly, June was gone and by the middle of July, the woman felt nothing except
the dire need to hang onto herself, counting minutes by the clock to make sure that
no one else stole her time. To what purpose, she had no idea. The presence of her
people, now that more of them had come forth, was inundating. The woman
became confused. The more she wondered what it was that she wanted, or needed,
or was, the more determined they were to tell her what they wanted. The woman
wondered what her own purpose was.

We'll let you know, they said.