Tuesday, February 24, 2009


By Rachel Campbell

A shiny gold cross hung around the woman's neck, embalming a statement of who she was and what she was for. An emerald turtleneck paired with a long plaid skirt reinforced the identity she attempted to create. Her hands, tucked in a small leather Bible, followed the words as she read aloud.

"And the Lord came to Jonah a second time..."

The words hung in the air before the woman closed the book with a smile. Second chances, she said, are golden opportunities. We all need second chances. As the woman began to pray-- her small voice lowering even more-- she addressed the group before her, but was inwardly speaking for herself. The cross she carried around her neck had never felt so heavy.

A week ago, the woman discovered she was pregnant with her second child. She had not told her husband yet, afraid of his reaction. Would he be joyful like the first time or angry since they could not afford it? She knew joy was certainly not in her own heart-- the baby, unexpected, was not coming at a good time. She had tried hard to track her monthly cycles, but something must have gone wrong.

Yesterday, walking through the clinic door had been so easy. The nurse who helped her had been so friendly, so understanding. It had been a good choice... then. She was elated to have the problem off her chest. We didn't want another baby anyway. Besides, I would have had to quit my new job that I have been working towards for years...

Last night, the woman knew the life inside her had left. And the Bible that laid beside her bedside grew into large seething eyes, piercing her heart if she looked for too long. Her husband's breathing, as she lay next to him, suddenly ceased to comfort. And the guilt of her action came upon her like a hawk sweeping down on its unsuspecting prey.

"And Father, forgive those who need forgiveness and give those who need it, second chances to do what they know is right." The woman finished her prayer with a desperate sigh, one that the students before her knew nothing about. Her life was forever marked.

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