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GRACE Along The Way is heartwarming yet far-reaching for anyone who wonders about something outside of the human mind that can come to their aid and be relied upon, when needed and invited. Together two abandoned boys, Jeff and Steve discover a course of action that can be depended upon to link them with a universal intelligence. The results will surprise you.
The Cambridge Home for Boys is the fated meeting place for Jeffrey Barnes and Steve Johnson. Destiny brings them together as roommates and they develop an invaluable and pricesless friendship, as they both want to improve themselves and become independent, especially if no adoption is in their future. Jeff is the more studious, tenacious and reflective youngster, but Steve is an independent thinker in his own way. Together they begin to develop a special philosophy of life that takes them into upper segments of the mind. Although they take different roads to their final goal, both are able to assist others in creating their own miracles.
Waiting his turn outside Sister Margaret's office Jeffrey sat on the rather uncomfortable simulated park bench provided. He looked up and down the corridor trying to amuse himself. Time passed slowly. All was quiet. He felt somewhat isolated. Most children had already been picked up. But he was sure Sister would get him out in time to make the bus.
As the door opened and his friend Frank Anderson walked out smiling, Jeffrey got up from his seat and walked into Sister's office. She always seemed to have a bunch of papers on her desk and a rather large collection of folders, some of which Jeffrey knew were the other students' files.
"Sit down, Jeffrey. I'll be with you in a moment," she said as she finished her busy routine, which never seemed to end.
He sat comfortably in the large brown leather chair on the other side of her crowded table. Her office wasn't very large really, although it did have room for two other chairs, which were situated on either side of his chair. Jeff was quite certain the other two chairs were probably for parents when Sister had a meeting with them and their child. He'd never had one of those meetings; he didn't have any parents.
Looking around, he noticed there were only a few religious pictures on the wall, one of which was Jesus after the Resurrection. He wasn't surprised Sister had this picture of Jesus since she always looked at the positive side of life. It wasn't that Sister ignored the suffering aspect; he just figured she didn't concentrate on it very much. Jeffrey liked that; he liked that a lot.
"Well now," Sister said pleasantly as she put away the other file, "you sure do know a lot about Thomas Jefferson. That was an excellent answer you gave in class."
Jeff felt proud. "Thanks. I do like him. I think he was a good president. In fact, the history books say he was a 'great' or 'near great' president."
"Yes, he was, Jeffrey, and he made some good decisions for our country. I think you're progressing nicely in both my history and religion class. How are your other classes? Any problems?"
"No, not really. Math is hard, especially the algebra part, but if I keep at it, I understand it. Mr. Larson told us the other day that no one is flunking his class. He said we're all moving ahead nicely. That's good. English is fine, and I'm okay in Science. I think I'm okay right now."
"That's good," said Sister thoughtfully as he saw her check his folder. "Your record here shows you're doing good work in all your classes. But then, you do apply yourself, and your study habits have greatly improved. Now, maybe you could lighten up, just a little. Good study habits do help, don't they?"
He knew Sister thought he was too serious. But he was alone in the world. Didn't she get it? He had to stay aware so he could always do his best.
"Good study habits mean everything," Jeff admitted agreeably as he shifted in the big chair, trying to find a comfortable position. "When we first talked, honestly, I didn't get it. But now, I know how important it is to keep up with my classes and not get behind. Other kids might get more help at home than I do, but at the orphanage some of the kids tease me. They think homework is dumb. But I don't, and I'm glad I can use the study hall here sometimes when I need to."
"Jeffrey, that's one of the reasons you were chosen to attend this school. Others had their chance, but some didn't want to work. They were put back into public school. Now, there isn't anything wrong with public school, and if they work and study, they'll get a good education. But our school will give you more exacting work and better prepare you for high school and college if you show an interest--and you've done that."
"I'm already eleven, you know; I probably won't get adopted now. Hey, I'm not being negative, Sister," he added as he saw the uncertain look on her face. "I'm stating a fact. A lot of older kids don't get adopted. That's true. I've got to be able to face that. And that'll mean I won't have anyone to help me later, if I should need it. I want to study hard and do good so I'll be okay ... know what I mean?"
Just then Jeff noticed a familiar expression cross Sister's face and added, "I know you say I think too much, but I have to. I must prepare myself, you know?"
"I do understand and that's pretty neat. But you're such a serious thinker. Some older children get adopted sometimes, right? I know you've had a few foster home placements that didn't work out, but don't give up, okay?"
"I'm not giving up, honest, I'm not. Sure I know it could happen, but I must be prepared if it doesn't. If I'm supposed to be alone, that's okay. But I've got to be ready."
"Isn't there an open house at the orphanage this Sunday?"
"Yeah, there is," answered Jeff as he heard his tone of voice head downward. He didn't want to think about that. That subject made him moody and sometimes gave him a stomachache. So he looked down at the floor, then at his well-polished black shoes that still didn't quite reach the floor from the chair he was sitting on. The stiff collar on his white shirt suddenly became uncomfortable. He fidgeted as his thoughts raced to think of something more pleasant.
He knew Sister must have noticed his nervous reaction to her question. Still, he had to wonder how she'd react to being presented at an open house. She didn't know how upsetting it could be. No one knew, except the other kids.
Sister continued, "Well, Sunday could be a good day for you. You could get chosen again, but even if you don't, they usually have good food and fun games, right?"
"Yes, that true and everyone is on their best behavior," Jeff answered easily. "That's usually fun to watch. But what I don't like," said Jeff, continuing in a softer tone, to himself mostly, "is the fact that I feel like I'm on display, you know? People come and look at you and they smile nice, especially if they're looking for an older boy. Then maybe they see a boy they think looks better than you and off they go. That hurts."
For a moment Jeff didn't talk. What more was there to say? Life was just the way it was. This topic was depressing, so he tried to think about something else. Then Sister changed the subject with a question.
"Remember what I taught you in religion class a few weeks ago? I know it's a new thought and will take some time to understand, but do you remember what I said?"
"Yeah, sure. You said we should cooperate with the graces we are given."
"That's right. So you at least remembered what I said."
"But I don't think I understand it." He searched Sister's face for a possible clue.
"That's okay, Jeffrey. I'm just starting to present some new thoughts for you to analyze. Many adults wouldn't know what that meant either. So again, it's the fact that God loves all of his children, not just some of them. And he gives different graces to each of us. If we fight these graces, we don't get the benefit from them. But if we cooperate with them, then life can change in a good way for us, understand?"
"Sort of," answered Jeffrey aloud, but inside he felt confused.
"Well, God has no favorites; He loves us all the same." And Sister ended the
But Jeff continued. "Do you mean God loves me as much as Frank Anderson: Frank has a mother, father, sister, his own dog and lives in a nice house. His mother is always there with him in the morning before class, and his family goes on vacations and they do fun things. Are you saying God loves me as much as Frank, because right now, it don't seem to me that He does."
"Yes, He does love you as much. Everyone's life is different, Jeffrey, and for someone who'd been so alone, now you've got some friends, and you're doing great in school. You don't know what'll happen in your life tomorrow or Sunday, for that matter." Sister paused for a moment, and Jeff saw her give him a reassuring look. "Everyone's life isn't going to be the same, and that's just the way it is."
"Yeah, I know," Jeff answered thoughtfully. "And a few times I got to go to a sleepover at Frank's house, and his mom and dad are always nice to me. That's something I didn't have a few years ago. Frank's mom and dad said they like me a lot. They really said that to me."
"I know, you've told me about the fun you've had at the Anderson home. I'm sure his parents like you; you're a nice boy."
Feeling immediate embarrassment, he continued at once to change the tone of Sister's last remark.
"Maybe you're saying that I cooperated with some of God's graces then."
"Maybe you did," said Sister, and Jeff noticed she was laughing.
"That means then I can be cooperating with graces without knowing it when good things happen."
"Well, that's certainly part of it, of course, but not everything happens immediately. I think your bus will be coming soon, so that'll be all for now. Think about what I've said and stay positive about Sunday, okay? Just have a good time. And ..."
"I know, I know. Cooperate with the graces I'm given."
"That's right, and don't forget to have a good time, too." Sister smiled at him as she completed the session.
"Yeah, I will."