Gaff got to the beach early. Early enough to watch the sun coming up over the ocean. Early enough to enjoy the sparkling light effects of golden sun on water. He didn’t set up his stuff until the show was over. Once his baited hooks were out there ready to bring in the big one, he settled into his chair to wait.
Bobby arrived later. The job as security guard in a local factory was cutting into his time on the beach. He repeated to Gaff-and to himself-the sacrifice would be worth it once he got up and running with his security consulting business. He was learning a lot that answered questions he had as a cop. It was all good, he kept saying. It’s all good.
The two men looked to the pelicans for signs of fish. They sat in silent wonder at the dark clouds rolling in from the southeast, clouds that spoke of violent storms.
Bobby asked, “You don’t think we’ll have to run out of here fast, do you? That looks like a pretty big front.”
Gaff nodded toward the clouds. “Might be that tropical storm they keep threatening us with. Missed Florida this time.”
Gaff squinted toward the water. “I think I see the predators working the schools of fish. Hate to think we might miss the big one because of a little wind.”
Bobby laughed. “You and the big one. Have you ever caught it?”
“Yep, I get ’em from time to time. Got you, didn’t I?”
Beyond Bobby, Gaff could see Sally stomping up the beach. “Uh oh. Did you make Sally mad again?”
Bobby turned to look along Gaff’s sightline. “Nope. Haven’t seen her today.”
“She looks like a squall storming toward us. More threatening then those clouds.”
They watched as Bobby’s cousin moved toward them, fast enough to kick up quantities of sand. Her face was red and drawn into a sour grimace. Her hands clinched into fists that beat the air as she moved.
Bobby groaned. “Now what?”
They didn’t have long to wait for the answer. Sally started before she got to them. “You tell that she-devil to move out of my house. I won’t have a pagan or a devil worshiper living with me. I am a good Christian woman and I won’t have it, you hear? I won’t have it.”
Gaff answered even though Bobby was the object of the tirade. “Who’re you talking about? What she-devil?”
“That Priscilla. That’s who.”
“Is she a pagan because she’s a writer or because she’s dating Bobby?”
“She’s got a lot of strange reading material that’s anti-Christian. She’s got the Gospel of Mary and A Course in Miracles. And she’s reading it right there in my living room. The nerve of her. She knows I’m a Christian.” Sally jammed her fists on her hips.
Gaff laughed. “Will you have to get your preacher to come over to bless your house to get all the devil germs out?”
Bobby looked at him reproachfully.
Sally hurrumped loudly. “Has she turned you, too?”
Gaff motioned for Sally to sit on his cooler, but she refused. Couldn’t fold that anger into a sitting position.
She turned on Bobby. “I want you to go get her out of my house this minute. This minute, ya hear.”
“Why do you say those books are of the devil?” Gaff checked the tip of his rod for signs that he had one on the hook. Maybe.
“They’re against the Bible, that’s why.” She kicked the sand to punctuate her statement.
“Have you read them? What in them offended you?”
“I wouldn’t read that tripe. My preacher said it was of the devil.”
“So you accepted what he said without checking it out for yourself.”
“He’s a very smart man and trained at seminary.”
“Does that mean he’s infallible?”
“You mean, like the Pope?” Her brow furrowed in thought. Gaff had heard her rail against those Catholics.
“Did you ask him what parts of A Course in Miracles he didn’t like?”
“No, I didn’t. He says that the people who wrote it say it came from Jesus. That just can’t be. Blasphemy.”
Gaff decided to take a different course through these shoals. He looked at the clouds coming from the southeast. “We might soon get a storm.”
Sally looked uncertain, but soon turned to look toward the southeast. “Could be.”
“Those clouds are moving pretty fast, piling up on top of each other.”
She nodded. “It does look ominous. You think it’ll get to us this time?”
Gaff ignored her question. “I’ve heard that a butterfly in Africa can stir up so much wind with its wings that it can result in a hurricane on this side of the planet.”
Bobby laughed. “Do you believe that?”
Sally laughed, too. “That’s silly.” She relaxed enough to sit on the cooler.
Gaff shrugged. “Does it matter? Butterfly’s wings or change in pressure up there. End result is a storm. If it comes our way we need to get ready for it.”
Bobby looked at his friend and smiled.
Sally looked confused. “Board up the windows and evacuate… It doesn’t matter whether a butterfly started it.”
“Hurricane can change your life forever. Sometimes, it’s important to look at the result instead of the cause. If it was started by a butterfly would you take the hurricane any less seriously?”
Sally shook her head in response. “A hurricane’s a hurricane. That’s serious.”
“Isn’t that book supposed to teach people the Way of Love?”
The sudden change of direction confused her. “What?”
“I know a little bit about that book. It shows people how to come out of love in every situation. Is that bad?”
“Well-l-l, no. I don’t think that is. Is that what it’s about?”
“I’ve looked at it and that’s pretty much what it says.”
“It says everybody can work miracles, doesn’t it? That’s blasphemy.”
“What makes it blasphemy?”
“Only Jesus could work miracles. That’s why.”
“Are the Pope and the higher ups of the Catholic Church blasphemous when they canonize someone to give them the status of Sainthood? A lot of times Sainthood is justified by reported miracles.”
“Well-l-l, no. But those are special people.”
“What makes the Saints so special? They were people living lives just like you and me.”
She took some time to mull this over. “Didn’t they spend their lives doing good works? Like priests and nuns.”
“Not all of them and not all priests and nuns are canonized. No, what makes them different is they were expressions of the kind of love that Jesus preached… and lived.”
She nodded enthusiastically. “That’s what I meant.”
“So if you learn to be an expression of unconditional love, why can’t you work miracles?”
Her answer came quickly. “Because I’m not a Saint.”
“They weren’t either when they were alive. They made mistakes and had serious doubts. Sr. Mary Elizabeth Seaton had a husband and twelve children before she became a nun. Then she founded an order and did good works. She’s a good example of how we can grow from life experiences.”
Sally leaned over to pick up a shell. “I didn’t know that.”
“What set them apart from others is a personal relationship with God.”
“A personal relationship?”
“A relationship that doesn’t depend on someone else as a go-between. A relationship that’s based on understanding the power of faith.”
“I understand the power of faith.”
Gaff noticed the tip of his rod wiggle. “Once you have that relationship, you can call on it to work miracles in your own life.”
“That’s the power of prayer. How can I do this?”
“That’s what the Course is about. How to develop that personal relationship with Jesus and then how to express that love in miracles to help people around you.”
“Do you think my preacher is against that book because he’s afraid it’ll put him out of work? After all, if people have a personal relationship with God then they won’t need him.”
“People won’t need him, but what about the good feelings you get from being in a group expressing love? That’ll draw us to church. The singing is full of love, too. It isn’t a competition. Church leaders should encourage people to study inspired writings so they get more out of the services.”
“But, first, he would have to read A Course in Miracles to find out what’s in it.”
“And that might force him outside his comfort zone. People fear change more than anything and he might be afraid that reading this little book might require him to change.”
“I’m going to get a copy of it. If I know more about it, I’ll be more convincing when I talk to him.” With this, she stood to retrace her footsteps back up the beach. Sally had only walked a couple of yards when she turned to them. “Bobby, Priscilla can stay… You think she’ll let me read her copy of that book? Until I get my own, of course.”
Bobby grinned. “Of Course! I’m sure she would.”
Once Sally was on her way again, Bobby turned laughing to Gaff. “You are a wonder, you know?”
“According to the Course, there is no difference in the magnitude of miracles.”
“And you work miracles all the time!”
“Not me alone. I’m guided by Mother Water. She’s the physical expression of the Christ Energy and the spirit of the planet. For me, she’s the ultimate expression of unconditional love. She brings the people to me and tells me how to help them.”
“Like that movie, hunh? Where the inhabitants of Pandora knew they were a part of the whole, including the planet and everything on it.”
“Like A Course in Miracles. We are one, a part of the whole. Hell is the belief that we’re alone.”
*Lorena Peter, Ph.D., writes entertaining mysteries, romances and wisdom books. All have strong spiritual underpinnings and paranormal elements. She blends a medical intuition and healing practice (and travel) with her writing. For more information go to WWW.LORENAPETER.COM. There you will see photographs of locations discussed in Gaff as well as a chapter for your perusal. You may contact her on Facebook. For her understanding of the Course, she thanks Carmen Cameron and the class in Louisville, KY.