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The Stranger's Touch
By DONALD E. MACKAY
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 DONALD E. MACKAY
All rights reserved.
THE STRANGER'S TOUCH
I wrote it all down in my will for the lawyer. I wanted my family to have my possessions and this story as well, after I go to the other side.
This story states how it was for me. The Creator punished me but He relented in time. He gave me a pretty young woman; a waitress called Sophie to share the remainder of my life. My name was clearly written in my will, but Sophie called me Cookie, and that's more than good enough for this story.
I was not important in this life; I was just a stranger to all and even to myself.
While I possessed little importance in this life, the story, however, is very important. If a man is in danger of losing his soul, I would say that made it very important. How did it all come about? Is it a love story? Is it a story about philosophy? Is it a story about the human condition and suffering and pain? Yes, yes, all of that but much more.
It began in early fall; September I believe it was. I was in my early fifties and as ignorant as was possible for a man in this life. Was there sorrow and regret and emotional agony that struck my mind? Yes, yes, it was all of those failures and much more.
Many think I was blest, and many are they who would be convinced I was cursed. I suppose it was somewhere between those two poles of extremity.
It was a lovely day, a little cool perhaps, but not a cloud in the sky, so they said.
I had been told that on this fine fall day, as the chill was on the air, I went for a walk to the back field. I often spent an hour or two merely thinking and calling out to the God I was told was real. There was a Deity in all creation, and I was told that I believed, at least they said I wanted to believe. They said how I often cried out to the Creator seeking knowledge of His reality. The neighbor often heard me calling out to the clouds in the sky, 'Where are you? Why don't you respond if you are real?' It was no different that day when I issued a loud tirade. My neighbor, I once knew him well, but no more, was walking his dog and saw me pointing to a rather small, dark cloud that had somehow appeared just above me in the sky. I was demanding to be heard by the Creator. At that moment, lightning streamed from the black cloud and struck me.
When lightning struck me, my neighbor guided me to the house where I once lived. Standing outside, they said I gazed about me like a lost child that was dumb struck, until a woman came out to see why I didn't come back in. It was beginning to cloud over. The rain had begun to fall, and a cold wind started to blow. How strange it all was, for they said it was a perfect day in the beginning. Only one small dark cloud had appeared and discolored the blue sky, but now many clouds sped across the sky. I stood alone, a stranger in my own land.
I was a perfect stranger to myself and to all who once knew me. Most of my past life had been erased. Standing before them was as an innocent child with no remembered sin or wrong thinking beyond the outrage I offered the Creator. Yes, I remembered some of my derogatory comments directed toward the Heavens and a few necessary things like math and taxes; basic things. Did I do many wrongs in life? I can be sure I did. I would probably testify as to the evil deeds I had performed with great sadness. But I cannot remember them to say how each was performed or the why of them or that I needed to ask for forgiveness for them.
The future seemed a frightening place to contemplate. I thought where could I go; to whom can I say, yea, brother, I know thee well? I have no recollection of skills I've been told I once had. If my means of livelihood had been taken away from me, what was the good of it? Must I begin again and re-learn all the things I once knew? I was still able to spell and count. I still knew the basic facts of life, but all the other common things that anyone should know have evaporated like a mist in the sun. Only one thought kept coming back to me, it was about a man called Job, but I knew no man by that name. I knew him not.
At the hospital all the bustle of nurses and doctors with their knowing glances were on parade. I was some sort of freak. I was struck by lightning, still alive but mentally gone in an instant. They asked me many questions, but what was I to tell them? The doctors subjected me to all sorts of probing of my mind. Why had this happened? How had this happened? I was not injured beyond a severely burned finger and a small hole in the bottom of my right foot.
The memory loss brought to me a great deal of pain and regret. My family came to the hospital to see me; I listened. My children and I were only able to stare in the general direction of one another. I was told my wife loved me, and we had a loving relationship. I said, but my dear loving wife, I know thee not. One child asked me why I was talking like that. How could I say the why of it? The visits were pure disaster. Each one stood near my bed and stared into my eyes that were wide and clear. My face produced an unfathomable nothingness in response to the knowledge my family thought important to convey to me. They said as a deacon of the church, I was a leading church member and a good father and a good provider and a loving husband and a true friend. On and on it went. Nothing could bring back all the major and minor keys to my once happy life they had shared with me. But, I wondered; was I ever really happy?
I wasn't locked in as a prisoner, as I was not a threat to others or to myself. I was more a medical curiosity than a real patient. No restrictions were placed on me. I was allowed to walk the halls and visit other patients. I then found out what I had gained. Ah, how my mind struggled with the questions that had no easy or possible answers.
As I was free to wander, I came upon a little girl's room. Her condition intruded as it came uninvited in a terrible vision that invaded my mind. This child was beyond ill. I gazed at her, and all the physical failures that had befallen this unfortunate child came rushing into my mind: A defective heart, a weak liver, and both were reaching for failure. She was blind from birth. I have no way to tell how exactly it was possible. By some means, I held her in my mind for a few moments as a healing force streamed toward her, and then she was released. I said she was released by some force not known to me; it was none of my doing.
I was struck a terrible emotional blow to my entire being. My breath came in short gasps and my hands shook. I struggled to understand what had slammed into my brain. But if one has no answers, the questions would simply dangle in mid-air and quiver with a power all their own.
The little girl began to scream in pain. "It hurts my eyes; mommy, it hurts my eyes."
Sunlight had penetrated the shadowed room in an intense narrow stream between the slats of the window screen and struck her eyes. Her mother was standing by her bedside and took her hand and asked her, "What is it Suzie, what is it that hurts you?"
"I see you mommy. I see you."
In my mind's eye, I saw in another vision, quite clearly that Suzie's heart had begun to beat in perfect rhythm, and her body parts responded and began to function perfectly.
The girl's mother began to cry for the doctors and the nurses: "What has happened here? What is this?" The mother was in a state of shock.
I saw the duty nurse; she came running to see what the problem was. Why was this woman screaming like that?
I stood frozen in place, transfixed as the healing had penetrated the child's body, but how was that possible?
The Stranger that I am had no desire to be part of the developing mystery. In my haste, I stumbled and almost fell as I hurried to walk away. The inner struggle now became almost insurmountable. How had the little girl responded to my probing mind? I knew the little girl could see and was healed. What power had allowed that vision to penetrate my mind?
After the terrifying experience with the little girl, I began to accept the idea the Creator did respond to that ignorant individual who once stood in the empty field near the woods and shouted at Him and tempted Him. How else to explain what happened? Having lost all knowledge of family and friends and other memories as well, I knew I was being punished. A simple tool for doing the Creator's work, was that what I became? The image of a man called Job remained in my mind, but why? I had lost almost everything else. I don't know why the man called Job was important; I don't remember this man. Was he a man I once knew in my former life? Nay brother; I knew him not.
As I stumbled down the hallway to my room, I thought I saw what it was. I had insulted the Creator, and He acted. I tempted Him, and He responded in this way. I had been told how I addressed the ultimate of all, shouting and demanding to be heard. I had a clear memory of one instance. I cried out, "Why don't you come down here and kill me, at least then I would have the satisfaction of knowing you exist?" He answered me.
My next encounter was with a visitor in the hospital, there to see her friend who had been in an accident. I felt the sweat rushing down my back as the invading images of a fatal illness flooded my mind with vivid images. Oh my God, she was so young and beautiful and kind and gentle and filled with cancer. Nearly all her internal parts were being destroyed slowly, so slowly she had no idea she was about to die. What was my part in all this? I wasn't able to do anything more than let my mind reach out to her, and she gave a shudder as if a chill wind had suddenly struck her. She was held in my mind for a few moments as healing rushed toward her, and then she was released. I said she was released; but I didn't do it; I didn't do it.
She leaned against the wall as if afraid she would fall. She looked nervously about her to see if anyone had noticed her shaking hands and legs. She was unsteady, but she regained her composure. She looked at me, but I was only a stranger who was walking away. That fact offered nothing to indicate anything out of the ordinary had happened as it related to the stranger she saw. She never knew a few moments ago, she was at risk, and the angel of death would have arrived and touched her brow to take her home. Surely, she would now go on in life doing what she was best able to do, sharing her kindness and joy of life with all those who would meet her. What more she was destined to do; only the Creator knew.
I now had a clear understanding of how it worked, well, as clear as possible for a man in my condition. While I was in the hospital, I had little else to do but ponder my fate, wander the halls, and watch TV. I saw several interesting programs that offered the idea that the brain was a good deal more powerful than generally supposed. One showed a Chinese man who could create heat with his hands simply by willing it to happen, and another man could hurl a man off his feet without touching him physically. I suppose what I do is in line with that sort of invisible force they employed.
I soon found out I couldn't help just any person. I had visited several rooms and saw many fatally ill patients that were in desperate need of help. But I saw they were only people in need and soon destined to die. I felt deep sorrow for them but that was about all that was possible for me. I was helpless. Indeed, who was I to determine which individual needed saving and which would be allowed to pass on to failure and the earthy trench that called to us all? Only those who had a vital place in the fabric of life would be open to me. I spent the rest of my stay in the hospital without finding another deserving and open mind that would respond to my probing. Choosing was not mine to have; I saw that.
Since I saw myself as a stranger to my family, and the possibility that I would never remember who I was, I felt the best thing was to simply leave, and give myself time to find a new life. Of course, at my age a new life would be short lived at best. But then, perhaps I could do some good for those who were in trouble. I had asked my family to take me home as soon as I could be released. I knew I couldn't stay there.
I knew I had to get away from the hospital as the little girl would surely say she saw the stranger who had touched her mind. I knew I was one of the first images she saw the moment when I stumbled and almost fell. She would remember me. The visitor also saw me; maybe she would remember me as well. The people and the staff would soon find me, and I could not let that happen.
Self preservation was a basic fact of life I had retained. I knew I would be mobbed if I was identified. All the sick and dying people would begin a stampede, and I could not survive. A stranger now without family or friends; it was true. I was being punished very severely. How pathetic it was for a man who had no idea who or what he was. Self preservation demanded it, and I intended to stay a stranger; was there a choice?
While I was still in the hospital, I had asked about transportation possibilities. One of the nurses mentioned a bus that would take me anywhere I wanted to go. The problem at the moment was: I had no idea where to go. I arrived at my house with my family, and I know I never saw it before except the day I was struck by lightning. I could not stay feeling I did not belong. Yea brother and sister; I knew them not.
I eventually bought a ticket to the farthest City I could name. I never looked back. The day I left the home that was once mine; I heard a song on television: "How Does It Feel?" How does it feel to be alone, I mean really alone? Was it part of my punishment for tempting the Creator? Who would doubt that? I allowed myself to assume that was the only logical answer. I was, by necessity, destined to be alone for the rest of my life. I couldn't have friends, I had left my family, and so I eventually turned to the only friends I could count on. One of the male nurses in the hospital had demonstrated a portable DVD player. It was small and light. It was not complicated. Once I was able to locate work, I would buy one and buy a selection of DVDs to keep me company. A computer was out of the question; too complicated. It was too easy to locate a person. I needed to be free.
I felt alone and yet, was that exactly true? Was I just a tool for the Creator? The creator acted through me, and I in my loneliness responded and conveyed His wishes to those in need. In that sense, I was not alone in my loneliness. Was it possible more mysteries would appear to this blessing than was so evident to my conscious mind? I could not allow my mind to wander into a bog of possibilities. I had no freedom to act on my own; I had discovered. The Creator was ever with me as needed and directed what was left of my life.
The bus took me to a City several hundred miles away from my one time home. I had some money, but I would need more in order to survive. I had to find employment. I had been wandering about the City looking for work, and I saw a sign on a small, family restaurant's window asking for help. They were looking for a handy man. The handy man stayed in the kitchen out of sight, and only the food servers were exposed to the public. I was soon doing all the necessary jobs the more skilled had no time for: I scraped the leavings from the plates and I kept the dishes and glasses and other items clean and I swept and mopped the floor; all were part of my employment as a handy man. It was hard back breaking labor.
I was thinking about the man called Job again. I seemed to remember something about this man. He had lost everything somehow; was that not so? But then so have I; was it not powerful brother? Yea it was so, but I knew him not.
Every room I found to rent had a bible. I had little else to do in the evening but read. Job kept coming back to my mind. And so I read about this man. But Job didn't do anything wrong. He was innocent. Was I innocent? I think not.
One night in pure desperation, I fell on my knees and called to the Creator. Surely He could see I was floundering badly in my job as a handy man. The work was back breaking. If I lost my health, how would I be able to do His bidding? I asked Him how much more of this must I take; was there no succor to be had?
The tears that stained my shirt were not tears of self pity but tears of sorrow and regret. On my knees I cried out: If I am to do Your work, You need to help me or I won't survive. I can't do this, I can't do this alone. I was struck with remembrance. It rolled into my mind like a fog on a cool spring day. I remembered various cooking techniques. Various terms used in cooking that came rushing into my mind. Maybe the Creator was relenting.
Excerpted from The Stranger's Touch by DONALD E. MACKAY. Copyright © 2014 DONALD E. MACKAY. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
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Table of Contents
THE STRANGER'S TOUCH, 1,
THE CHRISTMAS CARD EFFECT, 20,
THE GENTLE BREEZE, 42,
THE TICKET HOME, 58,
THE MUSICIAN, 64,
THE RING, 76,
THE DEBT OF HONOR, 83,
THE KETCH MARY B, 90,
THE PARK, 97,
A DESERT BLOOMS, 124,