(Short story from The Other Side by Sha’Tara)
(According to my trusty old MS Word, this short story is five pages long. Therefore, so as not to take up too much of your time, I’m posting it in three “installments.” Some of the title is of course borrowed from the famous Christmas short story “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry. A simplistic short story written to demonstrate the spirit of Christmas; also the joys and real dangers inherent to self empowerment.)
Ariana and Sylvia were twins and they were inseparable. They did most things together and were seldom found far from each other. Even as they grew older, they shared their times and even their friends. When their parents divorced, they were ten years old. In their innocent wisdom, they decided to “share” themselves between the parents. Sylvia went with her dad and Ariana remained with her mother. So every time the girls wanted to be together one parent or the other had to bring her over. Thus, over a period of time, and even after they were re-married, the parents developed a deep friendship as they watched their children playing or talking together.
After their parents separated, both girls, raised nominally Catholic, began to consider their faith and returned to the Church, attending and helping organize various functions. They shared the same intense belief in what the Church stood for.
Both grew into beautiful young women and over-achievers. They were heading to college when Ariana told her sister that she had decided to enter the convent and become a nun.
“I want to try on Mother Teresa’s shoes Sylvia, see how they fit and how long I can walk in them before they kill me!” Mother Teresa had been their childhood heroine.
Being Catholic, entering the convent was not an issue. Men and women were both desperately needed by the Church. Sylvia cried when her sister put on the veil and became Sister Celeste. She accepted her sister’s choice as they had always accepted each other’s choices. Sylvia went to college then on to university intent on getting a medical degree.
After a few years Ariana, now Sister Celeste, confided her passion to Sylvia as they spent a Christmas day afternoon together.
“I want to open a hospice for the homeless downtown. It’s my dream, Syl. It’s my passion, my inspiration.”
“And how does your Order and the Church feel about that?”
“If I can get private funding to open it and keep it going and convince at least four other sisters to join me, they’ll bless it. Problem is, I don’t have any contacts I could use to raise the money.”
“How much money do you need to start?”
“I need at least one hundred thousand dollars to open. I’ve got a tentative tender on a lease already. After that, I don’t know.”
Sylvia took her sister’s hands in hers and looking into her eyes, said: “Has God ever failed either of us, sister?”
“No, never.” she replied, smiling.
“Then go ahead. Do this and you will get the money… I promise!”
They talked some more. That day they swore an oath to each other, that no matter what the circumstances, no matter the distance, they would always spend Christmas day together.
Silvia sold her new car. She broke her engagement and when he told her to keep the ring, she sold that. She maxed her student loans and canvassed the campus and all her well-heeled friends. A few weeks later, near the end of January, Sister Celeste received a call from the bank where she had opened her “hope account” for the hospice. There was a one hundred thousand dollar anonymous donation in the account.
Ariana opened her hospice and from the very start it was a success. A brilliant manager and tireless, she drove her staff and herself to meet the needs of the homeless. Abandoned children were found temporary homes; pregnant girls were sheltered and placed here and there. The sick and the dying found a place of refuge there — a warm place, not an institution. She was often heard saying, “Unfortunately, our business is probably the busiest in town. We’ll never go broke from lack of customers.”
(end part 1 of 3)