In one of the small streets of Old Cairo, stands the convent of St. Marcorios or Abu Sefein (The Saint with the two Swords). Many simple nuns, who have left their homes and their families for the sole purpose of praying and praising God, live there. They all wear veils as a sign of their abandonment of life and all its worries. They are dressed in black garments, not as a sign of mourning or distress but as a sign that they left everything and are no longer preoccupied with anything but what is essential for living. In this simple nunnery, the nuns devote all their lives for prayers and praises. They do some manual work and some simple crafts in order to cover the expenses of the nunnery.
Several years ago in the midst of these holy nuns, lived an Abbess called Tamav (Mother) Kereya. She served and nurtured her children, the nuns. She would stay awake to guide and strengthen them spiritually and physically. Tamav Kereya was known for her great love to reading the Bible and to singing praises. It was said that she memorized the Old and the New Testaments by heart. Whenever she talked, it would be about the teachings of the Bible or about the lives of the Saints. Bishops would often come and listen to her talking about God.
In this spiritual atmosphere, one of the rich people of Upper Egypt from Abu Korkas used to go to the nunnery carrying gifts. In the morning, he would stay in Cairo for his personal business and in the evening, he would go to the convent to enjoy Tamav Kereya's stories about the saints and listen to her talking about God's great love and care. While staying at the convent, he used to feel as if he is abandoning his worldly life and laying it at Tamav Kereya's feet. He felt that he had laid his life in the hands of God to obtain renewed strength so that he would return to Upper Egypt with a peaceful mind and a contented soul. Tamav Kereya used to tell the man how God sends St. Abu Sefein to help and guard the convent.
The rich man decided to renovate his mills so he put some of them for sale. He went from village to village to receive the price of the mills. He put the money he received in a small bag under his arm. One of the taxi drivers noticed the bag full of money and decided to steal it no matter what it would cost him. He started talking to the rich man and ended the conversation by asking if the man would like a ride to Abu Korkas. The man answered affirmatively and they decided on the driver's fees.
On their way, the taxi driver talked to the man kindly to create a friendly atmosphere. When the cab approached the village of Kafr Ammar (the driver's village), the greedy driver pretended that there was something wrong with the taxi. Therefore, the driver excused himself and told the man that they would pass by the village for a few minutes to fix the taxi. The rich man agreed and the taxi driver drove to a small cabin and stopped the car. He went into the cabin and came out carrying a toolbox and pretended to fix the engine. The rich man was tranquilized that it will take a few minutes.
What the rich man did not know was that when the driver had entered the cabin, he met two of his friends. One of the friends asked, "Why are you here so early?"
The driver asked him to be quiet and not to make any noise. He signaled to his two friends to enter an inner room of the cabin. With a low voice he told them, "Both of you exit from the back door and wait for me on the road outside of the village. Pretend that you need a ride to somewhere along the road of Abu Korkas because the man in my taxi is a simple man and he has a bag full of money"
One of the driver's friends asked, "How will we get rid of him?"
The taxi driver thought for a few moments and answered, "I know a perfect spot along the way. We’ll stop there and get rid of him."
The taxi driver apologized to the rich man for his delay and they went on their way.
The driver started talking to the man as if everything was casual. They finally arrived at the spot at which the two bandits waited. The taxi driver pulled over and asked them, "What do you want?"
They answered saying, "Could you please take us on your way? We’ll pay you whatever you want."
"I'm sorry but this man is late. He’s to get to Abu Korkas," the driver said.
"That's the way we want to go."
"I'm sorry gentlemen but you’ll have to ask this man first."
The bandits asked the man if he would mind them but he, being a kind man, did not refuse. The two bandits rode the car realizing that their plan was working wonderfully. With incredible speed, the driver drove away until no sign of life could be seen and then the driver pulled over. The rich man then realized that something was wrong. The bandits’ faces turned into evil figures as they cornered him. Full of fear, the man asked, "What do you want from me?"
"The bag." answered one of the bandits
"Then take it and leave me alone."
"If we do that you’ll surely notify the police."
The man tried to assure them that he would not tell the police but to no avail. The bandits prepared themselves to strike the man. The rich man lifted up his heart asking for the help of the God of St. Abu Sefein.
Suddenly the three men backed away with fear as they saw the man starting to fly into the air. A police officer was holding his hand and flying with him over a nearby pond.
The bandits could not believe what they were seeing. None of them could open their mouths as they stared at the marvelous sight. Even the rich man was overwhelmed with amazement. The bandits, fearing that the police officer would arrest them, fled away terrified.
The rich man had forgotten about his bag of money and about the bandits. He looked to the police officer who was comforting him and patting his shoulder. He looked back trying to spot the taxi but it was nowhere to be seen. The man kept on looking around him astounded.
Minutes passed like hours. The police officer sat beside him comforting and reassuring him that he would not leave until the man was safe. He started telling him how unwise it was to collect money in front of other people. The two kept on talking until the man felt at ease again. The police officer then flew with him over the pond and returned him to the road saying, "Don’t be afraid for I’ll send you one of my friends."
A few minutes later a Mercedes drove by and the officer stopped it. Knowing that the driver was going to Abu Korkas, the officer asked him to drive the man to his house saying, "He’s a close friend of mine."
The man got into the car and when the officer made sure that he was safe, he disappeared.
The driver froze and asked the man, "Where’s the officer who was just here?"
"He left." answered the man
"Where did he go?"
"He went back to where he belongs."
"He didn't go anywhere. Where is he?"
“He’s St. Abu Sefein," replied the rich man.
The driver did not believe until the rich man told him the whole story.
The man replied with regret, "Why didn’t you tell me before he left so that I can take his blessings?"
The driver of the car was taking care of the church of St. Abu Sefein and he knew a lot about his great miracles. The following day, the rich man left Abu Korkas. He went to visit the convent instantly to offer thanks to God who glorifies Himself in His saints. He then told Tamav Kereya and all the nuns the wonderful things that had happened to him.
What If you Started By Sweeping
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