by K. Ray
Disabled teen Leah says a prayer. What happened next she'd hoped for, but didn't expect.
|Author's Note: I struggle here with tense. It seems to waiver between past and present in places it should not. If you review, could you please keep note of this and help me out here? Any suggestions apart from that subject are certainly welcomed as well! I wrote this scene as a part of a larger work in which The Call is the focus and affects other characters in different ways, giving a Psychologist the ability to hear thoughts and a nurse the ability to see disease in her patients, all able to use the gift to better the world around them. The character here is the centerpiece, perhaps, in the story, as her young faith compels others to move forward.
Texas Worship Experience – with Leah Summers
Leah Summers has just moved to this new town in Texas and despite being shy and in spite of her disability, she’s made friends already, both in school and at church. She is amazed at how different the church is from her old one. The church’s worship team uses drums and guitars – awesome! She is surprised to have been invited to the quarterly Teen Worship service – so surprised that she stumbles over her response. Instead of politely declining, she found herself agreeing to go. She is glad to have come.
It is held at the home of Gabe and Heidi (Holiman) Rey. Gabe is the youth pastor. In just these few months he seems to her like an adopted father (and she fantasizes about a scandalous wedding to her mother.) She’s gotten used to being in a wheelchair, and now at Gabe’s she’s transferred out of the gimp-mobile and is sitting cross-legged and barefoot on the floor in a circle of other teens. The main pastor, Jonathan Holiman, isn’t here, but she’s pretty sure it was his wife Stephanie that expertly maneuvered her chair from the in-the-way place she’d had to park it to transfer. Leah feels about as normal as she ever has, singing praise songs in a round-style, together with the others. On a chair in the middle of the circle which crowded the living room sat Stephanie Holiman, leading the worship with an acoustic guitar.
When they break for “personal time,” she searches for Gabe and spots him, standing up against a wall, praying. She hesitates for only a moment before crawling in his direction. She feels she can never truly be normal, even if the heavens bend to accommodate her, so for this reason she’s willing to abase herself to reach Gabe. When Leah was nine, she was paralyzed from the waist down in a car crash that also killed her father. Her muscular upper body, honed form years of physical therapy and daily use of her wheelchair, compensated for her lower-body weakness and, thank God, her range of motion allowed her to still be fairly mobile, even if awkwardly so. If her peers find it odd to see a teenager moving on all fours like a toddler, like a dog, they don’t show it. She’s invisible, perhaps.
Reaching Gabe, she tugs on his pant leg. When he looks down, her nervousness melts with his kind smile. She asks him to pray for her healing, for God to return her to normal. She’s thought of asking this since a Pentecostal revival at the church a few months back. At that meeting she witnessed Gabe receive “the gift of healing,” and saw a woman with one leg shorter than the other grow the gimpy limb to be equal. She needed more than a few blessed inches, but she believed the bible and thought God had it to spare. Her old church taught that such gifts and miracles were confined to the Apostolic Age, but this new church had planted in her a seed of hope. She had watered it with many doses of scripture that confirmed her newfound faith. Her spirit cried out for healing, and now she waited for Gabe, and God, to respond. She wondered what he was thinking, hoping he wouldn’t refuse. She waited for him to say something cliché and stupid like, “normal is overrated” or “you’re perfect as you are.” But Gabe doesn’t refuse, he only slides his back down the wall, bending his knees until he’s sitting next to her. He puts his hands on her trembling shoulders, says, “okay.”
In the beat between his acceptance and when words were vocalized, before he says anything at all, a shofar sounds. She knows that he can hear the smooth, rich tone, too, because when he beings to pray he matches the rhythm of his words to the sound of it. The words of his prayer mix with the sound of the heavenly instrument and a wave of energy, carried on the wings of sound, passes over her and into her. She feels a tingle in her toes, and weeps when they move back and forth at her nerves’ command. Her deadened limbs come back to life. It was as if God turned up a dimmer-switch inside her body. The tingle moves upward until her whole body, even the part she could already feel, is vibrating with energy. Goosepimples stand on her arms. When her eyes begin to tingle, she closes them serenely. She trusts this feeling, knows it is the answer to her prayer. She lets the electric wave wash over her until she is immersed in it. She felt so full of light and life she wondered if she glowed. She said to Gabe, “It worked,” and a song of worship she was familiar with rose inside of her, one she had heard on the radio. Gabe lifted his hands from her, his face full of awed wonder like a kid at his first memorable Christmas. He raised the hands to the sky and shouted, “Hallelujah!” When he lifted his hands, the shofar blast suddenly ceased. The song playing in her head was, “Rise up and Praise Him,” and though her legs shook in their weak condition, she was able to stand.
When she lifts her eyes also, she sees the scene of the room has changed. Bronze-skinned men and women – angels - clothed in white are mingled in the crowd, and demons clothed in shadows are cowering in the dark places. She gasps. Others scream. The big news might have been her healing, which defied logic and begged to be called a miracle, except that everyone was also experiencing a miracle of their own. Or something. Of the eleven teens crowded in the tiny apartment, all of them gained new sight. Their perception varied, but all cried that something had happened. She heard one person complaining that something was “wrong” with her eyes and for a moment Leah worried that she should ask Gabe to take this all back. She was worried that he would ask her to, and she didn’t want to, not at all. One of the fifteen angels (she’d counted!) was so close she might touch it.
She vocalized her concern not expecting a response, but one of the white-clad beings spoke: “The Call has gone out. You’ve been chosen.”
“Chosen?” She parroted. “I just asked to be normal. Is there a bad connection on the prayer lines?”
“Being normal is overrated.” The angel winked at her. Winked! “But it wasn’t your prayer that started this. The Calling was ordained. From the beginning, God has planned for an Awakening of His Chosen. Your faithful prayer HAS had an effect though. Your healing is in motion. There is greater than this to come. Tell these young children to have faith. There is nothing wrong with their eyes or ears.”
The main doubter, the one calling good evil and evil good, is Rebecca ____. Leah slowly made her way to her wheelchair, thought about taking a rest in its seat, then knelt to a carrying basket attached to its side. She pulled out the bible she’d left there, meaning to give the girl a piece of God’s mind. Carrying it and walking threatened her precarious balance, but she steadily moved to the group which had formed around the sower of discord. She paused, looked quickly around, and saw a mischievous shadow that had been tailing her. “Shoo!” She said, as if it were no more than a bothersome fly and not a minion of the Lord of Flies. She silently prayed and her head cleared. Had she not been discerning of the spiritual realm, she might have lashed poor Rebecca with the sword of her mouth, and such a thing was not meant for the devil’s work. Rebecca is only frightened, she thought, and decided she would befriend the girl.
Before she reached Rebecca, Gabe stepped into her path. “Leah! It’s amazing. You started all this and there isn’t anyone here whose eyes haven’t been opened!”
Leah blushed. “I didn’t start all this,” she said.
Thinking her only modest, Gabe protested, “You certainly did! What big faith you have, oh what courage!”
Her blush reddened to scarlet as anger added to embarrassment. “No!” She proclaimed. “My faith is small, our God is big, and He’s only just begun.”
“Your eyes, they shine like lasers, Leah. That is my new sight. Others have dim eyes, some have flickering candles, but your eyes reflect the sun.”
Awkwardly uncomfortable, Leah said, “I see angels. And demons. And they speak to us if we’re listening.” Then, she proceeded to tell him the angel’s message.
He listened attentively. As she spoke, others within hearing range wandered closer, drawn by the intensity of her telling as much as by the message. Glen ____ was one of the listeners. When she finished, he said, “I see things too, but they don’t make sense! When I look at Gabe I see a… well, I see a… I’m sorry Gabe, I see a vampire!” Gabe, who had put his hand around Leah’s waist to support her as she stood, laughed unexpectedly.
“I can’t tell you right now why I think this is so, but that is a fair description.”
Leah asked, “And what do you see in me?”
Glen promptly responded. “Supergirl. You have the cape and an S on your chest. It’s obvious.”
She chuckled. “You see heroes and villains,” then looked crosswise at Gabe, who still smiled.
“So what does it mean?”
“I don’t know,” she said, “but I think we all should tell what we’re seeing and it might make some sense afterward.”
Stephanie (Holiman) had come up behind her and when she spoke Leah jumped, then stumbled forward. Gabe tried to catch her from behind, but grabbed at thin air. She landed hard but straight, catching herself by the palms of her hands. She rocked forward, momentum threatening to tip her into a roll, but she settled on her hands and knees. Some fast thinker parted the crowd with her wheelchair. She looked reproachfully up at it. The one pushing it was Elizabeth ______. Voices in her head, sneaking in at the moment of her vulnerability, questioned her healing. Why do I have to get back in that cursed thing? Maybe I’m not worthy of God’s gift and He’s rejected me. What will they think if I climb into the chair? That I’ve given up? But there was nothing to do but get in the chair, so she did. Her legs had held her up for a miraculously long time.
“Are you alright?” The voice was Rebecca’s. “I heard you; I heard what the angel said. I see things now that I’m afraid of, but if it’s God’s will I shouldn’t have questioned it.”
“I am not healed,” Leah said despairingly.
“No,” Rebecca said, “but the healing is in motion.”
Author's note: Ignore the rest of this as it applies to the larger work yet unfinished.
Who are the Eleven?
Brittany (Summers), the younger sister of Leah
Cindy (Holiman), the youngest daughter of Jonathan and Stephanie