Toccopola's previous pastor is Gabriel O'Byrne.
Pastor Gabriel arrivesd in the midst of the depression.
A dustbowl howls across his trail. A hellhound chases. There are stones in his passway.
He finds a downtrodden congregation. Beaten. Hardened through economic destitution. Turned in on itself. Sceptical of outsiders. Vicious.
On the day he arrives Father O'Byrne sets up a large bonfire in his yard. Her toasts scrawny briskets and salted forequarters. He presents useful skills to the community.
He's a firestarter.
He's a provider.
He's a lightning rod.
He's a man to whom men are drawn.
Drawn they are.
They leave their damprotten railside shacks out of curiosity, or disbelief, or hostility, or defiance, or hope.
They are drawn in. They are mesmerised.
Mesmerised by the high-kicking flames.
Mesmerised by the tenderly radiating heat in the face of encroaching chill.
Mesmerised by the beautiful roar of planks ripped from his own wagon. A means of conveyance totally consumed in anarriving gesture.
Like William the Conqueror, he drills holes in his long boats.
Gabriel O'Byrne signals his honesty. Signals his earnestness. Signals his intention to stay.
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