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Note: This is part of a new serial fiction series focusing on the life of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, following the life of a fictional character as he encounters the saint. New chapters are released every Sunday! Click here for the previous chapter(s).
“Matteo! Look at this view!”
Giorgio was sitting with his friend, Luca, at the edge of a large boulder which hung over the side of the mountain. One wrong move and the two of them would tumble down into the valley below. It was remarkable the courage (or carelessness, as some would think) these two young men had.
“Let m-, sto-, her- for a few minutes…I will ge- up there eventu–.”
Matteo had to stop again and sit on a rock that was about 50 yards away from where Giorgio was waiting. While the mountain air was refreshing to breathe, his body was not prepared for the strenuous hike. The incline was becoming even steeper and the trail was no longer dirt, but only rocky terrain.
He also had another coughing fit.
During the six months he worked in the mine, drilling holes and breaking rocks, Matteo created so much dust that it invaded his body. The working conditions shortened the lives of all those who worked there. In fact, most of his friends died after working in the mine for a single year.
On this hike he started to understand that it would be his fate soon.
What really perplexed Matteo, as he started to regain his strength and move ahead on the trail, was that Giorgio wantedto work in the mines! Giorgio said to him a few moments ago that he chose that profession to “Serve Christ among the miners!”
Why would Jesus be in such a hellish place?
Matteo shook his head as he thought about this strange, joyful young man who served the sick and the poor.
“Look at the beauty of God’s creation!” Giorgio gestured with his arms for Matteo to enjoy the vista before them.
It was marvelous.
There it was, the snowcapped mountains, soaring pine trees and lush valley between them all. He could even see a river roaring in the distance, though it looked so small from his point of view.
“Matteo, don’t you ever think about who made this all? How what a gift it is to us? Every time I am in the mountains I feel closer to God. I see his footprints. I hear his voice.”
Giorgio’s words made Matteo uneasy. He began to shift nervously, desperately wanting to get away from this preacher.
Yet, at the same time, he was drawn to Giorgio and the sincerity of his voice. He knew the words were honest and from his heart. The innocence of Giorgio was astonishing. The God Giorgio believed in was not the god Matteo was taught to obey as a child. He always thought God was vengeful, ready to strike down the disobedient. Some priests even told him that was why his parents died from the Spanish flu…because they were sinners and brought down the wrath of God.
“I am sorry, Giorgio. I don’t know what to say. The view is beautiful, but how could a God who allows so much evil in the world, create these mountains? It doesn’t make sense. Why would he give us so many gifts, but then curse us at the same time?”
At that Matteo turned away and coughed more, feeling his body rebelling against him.
Giorgio turned his head with a concerned look on his face, turning his body to address Matteo.
“Matteo, I will admit, I don’t always understand God’s ways. There is great evil in the world, this I know. Why does God permit it? I only wish I could see the tapestry he is weaving with our lives. I know there is something greater, something better that he has planned for us. I trust in him.”
Giorgio started to turn around and gather himself to his feet, but as he was putting his knee down at the edge of the boulder, his other foot slipped. He lost balance and was scrambling to grab hold of the boulder.
Luca was already up on his feet, but then immediately reached down to grab Giorgio’s arm.
Giorgio was slipping backwards, quickly falling off the boulder and into the abyss below. As his hand came close to the edge, he grabbed hold of a tree root that was curling over the bolder.
“Help!” yelled Giorgio.
Matteo and Luca both raced to grab Giorgio as he was hanging off the cliff.
To be continued…
Come back next Sunday for the next chapter!