This year for my father’s birthday I decided to write a story for him. This is a flash fiction glimpse into the life of a beer drinking priest. I was inspired by my father who loves both beer and God. I hope you enjoy.
Two Bottles and a Revelation
By Lauren Sisley
-To my dad who taught me to follow God’s calling
Father Roberts loosened his collar after a long day’s wear. He shut the door to his study and took a seat behind the desk. There were no easy days leading his congregation. Each day was packed with meetings to attend, hospitals to visit, and house calls to make.
With tired hands he opened his Bible. It was time to focus on his own spirit. In his line of work it was easy to pour himself out. It was more difficult to fill himself back up. As he began to pray for direction in his work his stomach rumbled. Hours of running about herding the sheep caused him to forget about lunch.
The prayer ended quickly. He resolved to move his work into the parsonage where he was free to shed the collar and to fix himself a plate of spaghetti. Behind the desk was an old creaky door which adjoined his parsonage to the abbey. Minutes later, as he stood over the stove stirring the pot of minced onion and tomatoes his heart was heavy with an encounter from that day.
“Father, I’m not sure that I am living in God’s favor.” Sampson, a young man from the congregation admitted while sitting on the other side of the desk.
“What makes you unsure?” Father Roberts questioned.
“Lately things have gone from bad to worse in my life. Like, no matter how hard I pray or how righteous I try to be life just sucks.” Sampson’s shoulders sank and his eyes dropped to the floor where his toes tapped against the carpet.
“What is it about this life that sucks?”
“I’m drowning at work. I try to do everything right, but it’s just never enough. There was a promotion I was really hoping for. It would help my family so much. Now, I have to go home and tell my wife the bad news.” His hands were beginning to fidget.
“Have you prayed for God’s will?” Father Roberts opened most sessions with this question. Many of the people he had spoken with throughout the years wanted more, but rarely did they seek the counsel of the Lord.
“Well, not really.” The young man admitted. “I just sort of assumed that if I worked hard I’d get it. God knows it would help with the kids.”
“Ah, yes. But sometimes our will and God’s are not the same.” Father Roberts began to run his fingers over the stubble growing on his chin. When he looked into Sampson’s eyes he was taken back to his twenties. The man was so familiar.
“But I’ve been doing everything right.”
“It isn’t about our acts, Sampson. It’s about our faith.”
Father Roberts opened the refrigerator and pulled out a cold beer. As the noodles boiled he stirred his homemade sauce while also taking long drinks from the refreshing bottle. He felt the weight of the day lift with each gulp.
Moments later his phone rang. He put down the bottle and turned down the stove top to allow for a simmer. He reached for his phone and realized that the call coming through was Sampson.
“Hello, Father Roberts. It’s Sampson again. Would it be okay if I stopped by the parsonage tonight?”
“Well, of course it would be fine. I’m working on dinner. Would you like to join me?”
Sampson agreed to be there shortly and to bring his appetite. It had been a while since Father Roberts welcomed someone into his own home. It was his place of retreat from the beckoning of the church, but he sensed Sampson’s distress and happily offered a meal.
The two men sat across from one another for the second time that day. Father Roberts was on one side of the table finishing his bottle of beer and watching his guest. Sampson twirled the pasta on his fork for longer than any hungry human ever would. Something was on his mind and once Father Roberts fed himself he was sure they would get to it.
“So, please, tell me what has brought you here.”
“I’ve been thinking about what you said earlier. About God’s will.” Sampson said. He began to wriggle nervously in his chair. “I left your office and went home to pray.”
“That’s a start.” Father Roberts acknowledged.
“As I prayed there was something that I could not get out of my head.” Father Roberts desperately wanted to return to the kitchen for another beer, but decided against it in the midst of Sampson’s discourse. “While I sat in my car praying about God’s will for me all I could think about was your collar, Father.”
The cleric was intrigued and searching for an explanation.
“What do you think it could mean?” Sampson’s fork stopped circling the plate of noodles. His eyes moved from his dinner to the priest along with his question.
“I can’t say I know.” Father Roberts admitted.
They finished their meals and Sampson left with the promise that Father Roberts would pray about the situation as well.
While he cleaned up their meal and did the dishes Father Roberts opened a second bottle. He let the aromatic brew warm his stomach. The bubbles fizzed and the stress of his day started to dissolve once again.
Sampson was a younger version of himself. Father Roberts remembered when he had first heard the call to priesthood. It wasn’t at a seminar or in the sanctity of a church. He was a student who enjoyed his beer like any other. He was up late studying for an Economics final with two beers already in his system. His heart became heavy with questions about his purpose. And in those moments as he pondered the direction his life was taking he heard the still, quiet voice of God. It was a call to lay it all down. In his dorm room he committed to the call and became a priest years later.
He was glad to serve a God that called him, but also allowed him to drink his beer. God accepted him twenty years ago for who he was. And now as his fingers wrinkled from the dish soap he recognized the calling of another. With the towel beside him he dried his hands off and called Sampson.
“Sampson, it’s Father Roberts. I’ve had a revelation…”
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