Skip to main content

Excerpt - THE PASSION OF MARY MARGARET by Lisa Samson

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


The Passion of Mary Margaret


Thomas Nelson (March 10, 2009)


by


Lisa Samson



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lisa Samson is a Christy Award-winning author of 19 books, including the Women of the Faith Novel of the Year, Quaker Summer. Lisa has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as "a talented novelist who isn't afraid to take risks."

Her novel Embrace Me has been named as one of Library Journal's books of the year.

She lives in Lexinton, Kentucky, with her husband and three kids.

She stays busy by writing, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying...some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Mary-Margaret accepts a calling that surpasses her wildest dreams . . . and challenges her deep faith.

When Mary-Margaret Danaher met Jude Keller, the lightkeeper's son, she was studying at convent school on a small island in the Chesapeake Bay. Destined for a life as a religious sister, she nevertheless felt a pull toward Jude-rough and tumble, promiscuous Jude.

After sojourning as a medical missions sister in Swaziland, Mary-Margaret returns to the island to prepare for her final vows. Jude, too, returns to the island, dissolute and hardened. Mary-Margaret can hardly believe it when the Spirit tells her she must marry the troubled boy who befriended her all those years ago, forsaking the only life she ever wanted for a man she knows she'll never love.

Excerpt of chapter one:


The Passion of Mary Margaret


Thomas Nelson (March 10, 2009)



Chapter 1


MY SISTERS, IF I BEGAN THIS TALE AT THE END, you would know my heart is full of love even though nothing went as planned. I could tell you God's ways are not ours, but you probably know that already. And I could tell you that his mercy takes shape in forms we cannot begin to imagine, but unless you walked in my shoes for the past seventy years, you could not feel the mercy I have been given. The mercy God gives us is our own to receive, and while sometimes it overlaps with others' like the
gentle waves of the bay on the banks of which I now sit, for the most part, the sum and substance of it, the combination of graces, is as unique as we are.

So I will begin this tale at the beginning, on the night my mother conceived me in a moment of evil, a moment not remotely in the will of God, although some might beg to differ on that particular point of theology. It's their right and I don't possess the doctrinal ardor to argue such things anymore. So be it. What you think or what I think on the matter doesn't necessarily make it true. God is as he is and our thoughts do not change him one way or the other. If you've an ounce of intellect,
you'Il take as much comfort in that as I do.

My mother, Mary Margaret the First, as my grandmother called her, began cradling my life inside of her when a young seminarian took her against her will by the walls of Fort McHenry. Most evenings after teaching second grade in South Baltimore, she walked up Fort Avenue to the five-pointed star-shaped fort from which the Battle of Baltimore was fought in 1814, rockets red glare, bombs bursting in air, and so forth; and those British frigates sailed up the Patapsco River with Francis Scott Key on deck, penning what would become our national anthem.

The seminarian knew about what my Aunt Elfi called my mother's "evening constitutional" and sometimes he would join her in the gaslit, city twilight, hands clasped behind his back-at least I picture him that way-bent a bit forward at the waist and listening to her talk about her students perhaps, maybe the other religious sisters, for she had just taken her final vows as a School Sister of Notre Dame. Perhaps she talked about her pupils' parents, or how she enjoyed listening to the radio shows in the evenings in the cramped apartment she shared with her friend, fellow sister, and coteacher Loreto; how their school had been seeking ways to provide at least one good meal to the children a day, considering how many of their parents were out of a job after the crash on Wall Street.

I don't know what my father must have said in return, but I've always wondered. She must have been caught by surprise, surely, because Grandmom said my mother was sharp and quite a good reader of people. He must have fooled her somehow. Grandmom said he was the seminarian at nearby Holy Cross Church. Perhaps he'd even heard her confessions. Not that they'd have been shocking. Grandmom said my mother didn't give her much trouble.

Perhaps as they walked, the sun slanted its rays against the faces of the buildings, turning the stones and bricks from gold to crimson, the sky blazing with magenta and violet as though sheer scarves were waving behind the clouds. Maybe the cobalt night
soaked into their clothing during the chill months, deepening the black of their coats, drawing the color out of their scarves and the character out of their features until they happened by a lamplight.

One evening something evil entered into him and he entered into her and I resulted. Did Grandmom tell me? If so, she certainly didn't employ that terminology. My age necessitated more delicate, obscure phrasing, perhaps something about the things only husbands and wives should do being forced on someone else. I can't recall exactly when I found out, but it feels like something I've always known and preternaturally understood. I might have overheard a conversation. I don't know. That
my mother was a religious sister in an unwanted pregnancl threw fate completely out of balance. When I was thirteen, I figured I could put things aright somehow, maybe justify my existence by picking up the torch my own birth snuffed out.

It's bad enough to be born from the sin of two consenting adults. But I resulted from rage and control, from one person overpowering another in the assumption his right to take was more important than her right to give. That takes "man meaning
it for evil but God meaning it for good" a giant step further. Yet blaming God for the lies of an Egyptian nobleman's wife who didn't succeed in getting Joseph to succumb to her hardly subtle sexual requests and that wine steward's selfish forgetfulness is somewhat different than giving him wholesale credit for rape. You have to draw the line somewhere or pretty soon Ted Bundy truly couldn't help himself and that terrorist they're talking about these days, Osama Bin Something or Other, really is on a holy mission, and who knows where that will end up? That sort of theology shouldn't sit well with anybody, whether you're from Geneva or Rome, so perhaps I have more doctrinal ardor than I realized ten minutes ago! Goodness me. I
suppose I've grown slightly opinionated now that I've entered my eighth decade. So sisters, forgive an old woman a little rambling at times. Not that seventy is that old, mind you. Indeed not.

My mother came home to Locust Island to grow a healthy baby inside of her as she strolled by the shore and prayed in the chapel here at St. Mary's, feeling at home among the sisters. My grandmother's house was just down the street from the school.
She prayed hours and hours on a kneeler, spending more time on her knees than at home. Aunt Elfi most likely joined her frequently because Aunt Elfi knew being present was the first way of helping anyone.

Grandmom said my mother would sit on Bethlehem Point every evening and stare out over the waters of the Chesapeake, her gaze pinned to the spider-legged lighthouse out on the shoals. And she'd cry. Grandmom didn't ask her to expound or emote. Grandmom was second-generation German. The chill had yet to dissipate completely.

I imagine Mary Margaret the First took hope in that whirlinglight of the lighthouse out on the shoals, as I always have. It makes me think that somehow there's somebody capable of warning you of danger, and if you fi.nd yourself in it, that person will climb into a lifeboat and come to get you. It's difficult to take your eyes off the piercing white beam when you sit here on a dark night.

We all want to be rescued and we'll look in the craziest places for that rescuer, won't we? We all want to be found.

Mary Margaret the First sat beneath the same tree under which I'm sitting now. It's one of the reasons I always end up here. The way the tangled roots protrude from the ground perfectly cradles my lawn chair, and on afternoons in late July or August, the canopy of leaves stifles some of the sun's heat. Only when my mother sat here, it was young, a tree with more hope than wisdom.

Conceived in sin, birthed in sorrow, I entered the world in a flow of blood that failed to cease once I had been released into my grandmother's hands. After fifteen minutes or so, Grandmom knew the bleeding wouldn't stop on its own; my mother was dying. Aunt Elfi fetched Doctor Spanyer, who said with an aching stutter that by the time they'd deliver my mother to the h-h-hospital, having to procure a boat to the mainland and then ride two hours to Salisbury, she'd be d-d-dead. The poor doctor died a year later on the way to the very place my mother couldn't go, his wife refusing to believe he'd bleed out when his son Marlow ran over his foot with the lawn mower. He did. She moved away after the funeral.

The inhabitants of Locust Island formed a hardy, scrabbly sort of people back then because every person knew in their core that if something traumatic happened physically, the nearest hospital more than two hours away, there was nothing to be done but die. And if death was the only outcome, well, the sooner the better and heaven above let it be something massive ans quick: a fall from a roof onto your head, a fatal heart attack or a stroke, a smash on the skull with a sledgehammer. A lawnmower accident. Postpartum uterine hemorrhaging.

Aunt Elfi then slipped out into the rain and fetched Father Thomas, our parish priest. Tears in his eyes, for he was my mother's confessor, he anointed my mother's forehead, eyes, ears, nostrils, lips, hands, and feet and prayed the prayer of extreme unction, the first prayers my new ears ever heard. Aunt Elfi said he then picked me up and said, "The final puzzle piece in Mary Margaret's redemption."

I still don't know what that means. I can't say my life is completely explainable, that I don't have a lot of questions. God willing, the answers will be unearthed before I die.

My grandmother named me Mary-Margaret the moment my mother passed away. I've always liked the hyphen she gave, as if somehow it serves as a bridge between my mother and me, a gentle, silent "and so on and so forth." And it is my own hyphen.

Had my mother lived, I most likely would not be writing in this notebook. She planned on giving me up for adoption, wanting me to have both a mother and a father, and returning to her order, teaching, most likely farther away, leaving the entire
ordeal behind her. And I wouldn't have blamed her. Of course Grandmom said she always planned to raise me there in the little apartment with one couch and too many straight chairs; that she would never have let me go to another family when ours was well and good and fuily capable of raising a child. And I can only believe her as she never did pass me on to anybody else.

The main players in this morality tale have passed on: Jude, my mother, Grandmom and Aunt Elfi, Brister, Petra, Mr. Keller, and even LaBella. Except for John, Gerald, and Hattie, and myself. Actually, if you're reading this, I am dead too. I
assume the raping seminarian passed away as well. I never knew what happened to him. Who among us would have the spirit to embark on such a search? I don't even know his name, if anyone discovered his crime, or if he slunk away into the arms of the Church.

And did he take refuge in the arms of Christ? Did he seek forgiveness? Did he, perhaps, turn into something more?

See? Questions. Never to be answered. Most likely I've waited too long. He'd be long in his grave by now. I'm old!

Well, my Aunt Elfi said my mother's soul passed into me as lightning trilled the air around us. Grandmom said she was crazy, we were all Catholic, we didn't believe in that sort of thing; surely the soul entered the baby well before she was born and would she please be quiet and help her wash her only daughter's body and clean up the blood?

The blood she gave for me. Yes, I'm painfully aware of the symbolism.

Aunt Elfi would have carefully rolled up her sleeves, donned an apron, and pulled back her long, white hair. She would have lovingly dabbed each rose-bloom of blood away' leaving a comet of iron-red across my mother's thighs as she wiped her clean'
Aunt Elfi moved in a gentle, Patting way, her voice never much above a whisper.

My mother, by the way' was the product of an indiscretion between my twenty-eight-yet-still-unmarried grandmother and an island tourist from Belgium. Though completely out of character for my thick-jawed grandmother, even less understandable
was that he found her horsey, Germanic face attractive. So sex seemed to be something unredeemed in and of itself in my famrly of females, but somehow taken up and looped around the fingers of the Almighty and put to rights in the aftermath'

Well, Aunt Elfi never misbehaved like her sister' but it only took one look at her to realize someone scrambled her brain with a fork before it was fully cooked.

Later on that September afternoon in 1930, the sky clear and the orange sun gilding the fallen rain' men and women walked home from the dock, from their fishing boats or the seafood cannery at the western edge of our island. Cans and cans of oysters were shipped out from Locust Island every day. Abbey Oysters. The company used a monk as the logo even though many of the islanders were Methodists. As you can imagine, Friday was the best day for sales, a fact that did not escape even the most Methodist of Methodists. Sometimes I walked by the cement block building and looked through the grimy window' watching as the shuckers' hands darted like minnows extracting the smooth, precious meat from the rough, prehistoric exterior. Rounding the corner, the pile of shells grew with each day, only to be carted away and ground into lime.

Those men and women passed by, oblivious to the tragedy as they scuffled down Main Street in front of our building. They didn't know the bell from St. Mary's Convent School that called the girls to dinner served as a death knell for Sister Mary
Margaret Fischer as well as a ringing in of a new life, proof, some wise person once said, that God desires the human race to continue. They figured another day had passed, much like the one before and the one before that, back to the day one of their parents or siblings or children passed away or someone was born into this world. We always remember days when something begins or ends.

And as those two women washed the bloody legs and the pale, fragile arms of my mother-pictures of her display lovely, wavy, dark hair and dark eyes-I lay bundled on the bed, looking up at the ceiling. That's what Aunt Elfi told me. I didn't cry
until Father Thomas returned to comfort us in our sorrow and he gathered me into his fragile arms, crying with me. He was a tender sort until the day he passed away.

I was two days old when Father Thomas, the older members of our parish, and our family, consisting of my grandmother, my aunt, and myself, committed my mother to the earth at St. Francis Church's graveyard. Afterward, they walked right inside
the church, stood by the simple, stone baptismal font, and I was baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Sister Thaddeus, whom I'll tell you more about later, an older schoolgirl at the time, said she watched from the shadows, listening to the Holy Spirit telling her to pray for me every day. And she did.

Afterward, Aunt Elfi brought me to Bethlehem Point, this very piece of land on which I now sit, beneath the same tree, and she held me as the sun went down for good over my mother. She walked back home with me in her arms, fed me a bottle, and laid
me in my bassinette, where I slept through the night. Exhausted, they both deserved that little ray of grace. I never gave them any trouble either.

Comments

Popular Posts

Merry Christmas! Enjoy The Spinster's Christmas

As a Merry Christmas gift to all my blog readers, I’m going to be posting my Christian Regency romantic suspense, The Spinster’s Christmas , for free on my blog! I’ll be posting the book in 1000-1500 word segments every Tuesday and Friday. (When I do the calculations, it’ll finish around the end of May.) Why am I posting a Christmas story when it won’t be Christmas in a week? Because I can! :) The Spinster’s Christmas is the prequel volume to my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series . Right now I’m editing volume 1 of Lady Wynwood’s Spies, and it’s on track to release in 2020. (If you’re on my Camille Elliot newsletter , you’ll be sure to hear when it’s available for preorder.) I anticipate that the Lady Wynwood’s Spies series to be about ten volumes. I think the series story will be a lot of fun to tell, and I’m looking forward to writing up a storm! Below, I’ll be listing the links to the parts of The Spinster’s Christmas as I post them. (I created the html links by hand so please l

Lady Wynwood's Spies, volume 4: Betrayer is here!

The latest volume in my Christian Regency epic serial novel is released! Here’s the back cover description of Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer : A Christian Historical Adventure set in Regency England with romance and a supernatural twist Part four in an epic-length serial novel Beleaguered spies Lady Wynwood’s team of spies are trying to heal from the physical and mental wounds recently dealt to them. However, their investigation into Apothecary Jack’s mysterious group has turned up only a few strange, disjointed clues, and the dangerous Root elixir continues to circulate in the London underbelly. It is only a matter of time before the Root is sold to Napoleon, which would give him overwhelming dominance in the war. Sudden threats Then Laura, Lady Wynwood, is unexpectedly attacked by a man she had trusted. Although Phoebe and her household staff manage to protect her, her life is now in danger and she must go into hiding. Dangerous mysteries Laura uncovers more

Tabi socks, part deux

Captain's Log, Stardate 07.25.2008 (If you're on Ravelry, friend me! I'm camytang.) I made tabi socks again! (At the bottom of the pattern is the calculation for the toe split if you're not using the same weight yarn that I did for this pattern (fingering). I also give an example from when I used worsted weight yarn with this pattern.) I used Opal yarn, Petticoat colorway. It’s a finer yarn than my last pair of tabi socks, so I altered the pattern a bit. Okay, so here’s my first foray into giving a knitting pattern. Camy’s top-down Tabi Socks I’m assuming you already know the basics of knitting socks. If you’re a beginner, here are some great tutorials: Socks 101 How to Knit Socks The Sock Knitter’s Companion A video of turning the heel Sock Knitting Tips Yarn: I have used both fingering weight and worsted weight yarn with this pattern. You just change the number of cast on stitches according to your gauge and the circumference of your ankle. Th

How can I pray for you?

Photo credit: lalalime.blogspot.com 日本語訳は下をご覧ください。 I hope you had a good Thanksgiving, taking time to be still and remember God’s grace. My IBS has gotten a little better, but I’m still not entirely in control of my symptoms. There are simply too many things I don’t know if I can eat or not, and when I try things, if they affect my IBS, then I’m out for about a week at a time. My writing has slowed down more than I’d like. Please pray for God to heal my IBS, and for me to learn what God wants me to learn by allowing these struggles. Just as I’m struggling, if you are too, remember that God is with us and has a reason for everything that happens to us. Lord, thank You that You are always with us and have control over everything that happens to us. Help us to surrender to You and do Your will, no matter what is going on in our lives. Amen How can I pray for you today? Please leave me your prayer requests! Prayer requests can sometimes be private things, so to keep your

ひとり寿司第25章パート2

「ひとり寿司」をブログに連載します! ひとり寿司 寿司シリーズの第一作 キャミー・タング 西島美幸 訳 スポーツ狂のレックス・坂井 —— いとこのマリコが数ヶ月後に結婚することにより、「いとこの中で一番年上の独身女性」という内輪の肩書を「勝ち取る」ことについては、あまり気にしていない。コントロールフリークの祖母を無視するのは容易だ —— しかし、祖母は最終通告を出した —— マリコの結婚式までにデート相手を見つけなければ、無慈悲な祖母は、レックスがコーチをしている女子バレーボールチームへの資金供給を切ると言う。 ダグアウトにいる選手全員とデートに出かけるほど絶望的なわけではない。レックスは、バイブルスタディで読んだ「エペソの手紙」をもとに「最高の男性」の条件の厳しいリストを作った。バレーボールではいつも勝つ —— ゲームを有利に進めれば、必ず成功するはずだ。 そのとき兄は、クリスチャンではなく、アスリートでもなく、一見何の魅力もないエイデンを彼女に引き合わせる。 エイデンは、クリスチャンではないという理由で離れていったトリッシュという女の子から受けた痛手から立ち直ろうとしている。そして、レックスが(1)彼に全く興味がないこと、(2)クリスチャンであること、(3)トリッシュのいとこであることを知る。あの狂った家族とまた付き合うのはごめんだ。まして、偽善的なクリスチャンの女の子など、お断り。彼はマゾヒストじゃない。 レックスは時間がなくなってきた。いくら頑張っても、いい人は現れない。それに、どこへ行ってもエイデンに遭遇する。あのリストはどんどん長くなっていくばかり —— 過去に掲載済みのストーリーのリンクはこちらです。 *** ビーナスはベンの視界をさえぎった。「ここは大丈夫だから、もう帰っていいわよ」 「でも——」 ビーナスは、また彼の目の前でドアを閉めた。 「何——」 ビーナスはレックスの言葉をさえぎり、ドアの隣の窓から外をのぞいた。「よかったわ、レックス、エイデンが来てくれて。あなたの巻き爪を全部切ってくれるわよ」ビーナスの声が小さい部屋に響き渡った。 どうやって礼儀正しく答えようかと決めかねているように、エイデンの表情は少し硬くなった。多分、(そうなの?)とか(それはおもしろいね)とでも言う

Camy Tang's November newsletter

My Camy Tang (Christian Contemporary Romantic Suspense) newsletter went out this week, but in case you missed it, the link is below. In my newsletter this month, there’s an update on my personal life and publishing schedule, and I also linked to a blog post about what the TV show Supernatural has to do with GONE MISSING, the 6th book in my Sonoma series Click here to read my Camy Tang newsletter for November. I also forgot to post the link for the October newsletter, so you can click here to read it.

No Cold Bums toilet seat cover

Captain's Log, Stardate 08.22.2008 I actually wrote out my pattern! I was getting a lot of hits on my infamous toilet seat cover , and I wanted to make a new one with “improvements,” so I paid attention and wrote things down as I made the new one. This was originally based off the Potty Mouth toilet cover , but I altered it to fit over the seat instead of the lid. Yarn: any worsted weight yarn, about 120 yards (this is a really tight number, I used exactly 118 yards. My suggestion is to make sure you have about 130 yards.) I suggest using acrylic yarn because you’re going to be washing this often. Needle: I used US 8, but you can use whatever needle size is recommended by the yarn you’re using. Gauge: Not that important. Mine was 4 sts/1 inch in garter stitch. 6 buttons (I used some leftover shell buttons I had in my stash) tapestry needle Crochet hook (optional) Cover: Using a provisional cast on, cast on 12 stitches. Work in garter st until liner measures

Grace Livingston Hill romances free to read online

I wanted to update my old post on Grace Livingston Hill romances because now there are tons more options for you to be able to read her books for free online! I’m a huge Grace Livingston Hill fan. Granted, not all her books resonate with me, but there are a few that I absolutely love, like The Enchanted Barn and Crimson Roses . And the best part is that she wrote over 100 books and I haven’t yet read them all! When I have time, I like to dive into a new GLH novel. I like the fact that most of them are romances, and I especially appreciate that they all have strong Christian themes. Occasionally the Christian content is a little heavy-handed for my taste, but it’s so interesting to see what the Christian faith was like in the early part of the 20th century. These books are often Cinderella-type stories or A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett) type stories, which I love. And the best part is that they’re all set in the early 1900s, so the time period is absolutely fasci

One-Skein Pyrenees Scarf knitting pattern

I got into using antique patterns when I was making the scarf my hero wears in my Regency romance, The Spinster’s Christmas . I wanted to do another pattern which I think was in use in the Regency period, the Pyrenees Knit Scarf on pages 36-38 of The Lady's Assistant for Executing Useful and Fancy Designs in Knitting, Netting, and Crochet Work, volume 1, by Jane Gaugain, published in 1840. She is thought to be the first person to use knitting abbreviations, at least in a published book, although they are not the same abbreviations used today (our modern abbreviations were standardized by Weldon’s Practical Needlework in 1906). Since the book is out of copyright, you can download a free PDF copy of the book at Archive.org. I found this to be a fascinating look at knitting around the time of Jane Austen’s later years. Although the book was published in 1840, many of the patterns were in use and passed down by word of mouth many years before that, so it’s possible these are p

Year of the Dog serial novel, chapter 7

I’m posting a Humorous Christian Romantic Suspense serial novel here on my blog! Year of the Dog is a (second) prequel to my Warubozu Spa Chronicles series. Year of the Dog serial novel by Camy Tang Marisol Mutou, a professional dog trainer, is having a bad year. While renovating her new dog kenneling and training facility, she needs to move in with her disapproving family, who have always made her feel inadequate—according to them, a job requiring her to be covered in dog hair and slobber is an embarrassment to the family. She convinces her ex-boyfriend to take her dog for a few months … but discovers that his brother is the irate security expert whose car she accidentally rear-ended a few weeks earlier. Ashwin Keitou has enough problems. His aunt has just shown up on his doorstep, expecting to move in with him, and he can’t say no because he owes her everything—after his mother walked out on them, Aunt Nell took in Ashwin and his brother and raised them in a loving Chri