Grace

By
It happened on an unusually warm night. It felt like I had just been put to bed when I heard a thunderous crash slice the silence—the sound of broken glass on hard floor. I jerked awake, and the foggy thoughts flew out of my head as I wondered why my mom would be in the kitchen at two in the morning. My heart was already pounding in my chest and I wanted to call out to her, but a gripping fear clamped my lips shut. All of a sudden a shadowy figure was standing in my doorway with a long gun pointed straight at me; the man in black spoke rapidly in Amharic. In the bunk above me, my older sister, Hana, woke up before the man came into the room and grabbed us.
During that fateful night, while the rest of us were relaxed in deep sleep, my dad had woken up to the sound of a piercing whistle—an alarm that we were being robbed. While one of them had knocked on the gate, our guard had opened it and the rest tied him up while still others jumped over. They did not shoot him but rushed to our house, where my dad only had enough time to jump out of bed and pick up the phone before they broke through the glass on the outer part of our door. One man shoved the gun through the iron grate as broken glass fell to the floor, motioning for my dad to put the phone back in its cradle and open the door. When they were all inside, they immediately ushered my dad back into his room with his hands on his head, and forced my mom to lie under the covers while they yelled for our money. Some went through the rest of the house, and one entered my brother’s room also making him lie under the covers on my parents’ bed. That was when the man came to my room.
Hana and I were directed into our parent’s room and we shivered under the blankets, not quite sure what was happening. As I peeked out from beneath the sheets, I saw long, black rifles aimed at my dad as he spoke, “ We don’t have money; we don’t have any money.” He repeated this over and over, as his hands waved above his head, trying to draw them away from the room. I saw that the men wore all black and handkerchiefs covered half of their faces, leaving their eyes visible. Suddenly, my older brother began to cry and would not stop until one of the guards said, “Stop crying boy. We won’t hurt you.”
After what seemed like hours, but was in fact twenty minutes or so, something very peculiar happened. In seconds, the guards immediately fled the room as fast as they could, leaving just minutes before all of our friends arrived. As my dad made various calls, the rest of us timidly wandered outside, and were greeted by hugs, kisses, and prayers spoken aloud by neighbors and friends. My mom started weeping and as I stood in the driveway watching my dad embrace the men, the realization of what just happened hit me and I felt a surge of weakness overcome me.

Later, when I asked my mom why the men had left so suddenly, she told me that she had seen a brilliant bright light, and a voice commanding, “ Leave them be. Don’t hurt them.” That was when, for the first time in my life, I learned the true meaning of grace.





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