Coincidence, it has often been said, is simply God choosing to remain anonymous. So, are the events in Tom's life mere coincidences or are they orchestrated by a loving and wise God? In Gabriel, Blow Your Horn! author C.S. Callahan (better known as Sister Callahan) introduces the reader to Tom, a young man on a career fast track where the future appears to be filled with money and success.
Tom is no different than many people I know. I even recognize aspects of myself in him. He's driven, goal-oriented, and not showing any signs of slowing down. He's got a two-year plan, a five-year plan, and a ten-year plan. That is, until he loses his job in the firm that was to be one of the stepping stones in those plans.
In the middle of this unanticipated dilemma, Tom accepts an invitation to his college roommate's sprawling home where he plans on spending some quiet time formulating his "Plan B." Seeing that his friend, Chris, has stayed on track with their mutually agreed upon goals, Tom is more determined than ever to make up for lost ground. Though still a bit shaken by his misfortune, Tom nonetheless recognizes a significant opportunity for a financial windfall at a nearby monastery. And it is at this point that a series of interesting and intriguing events unfold in a manner that has "coincidence" written all over. To better position himself for what he begins to see as his inevitable financial gain, Tom dons the correct garb (though often lacking the correct attitude) and works diligently to clear and clean the grounds and gardens that have succumbed to lack of attention. Tom sits with his newfound, albeit much, much older, friends and does his best to enjoy football on a dilapidated television set that is just barely getting reception — a far cry from the flat screen Tom had been used to. His dining habits also undergo a drastic change as the once avid wine aficionado makes do with the meager offerings at the monastery. Through it all, though, Tom never loses hope in his dream of wealth.
While at the monastery Tom's plan is complicated by a variety of unforeseen obstacles that include Paul, the steely, reserved priest and Robert the affable, although slightly-impaired cook. Chris' wife Sarah also becomes a prominent figure as she seeks to escape her shallow life in the solace of the monastery. It is there that Brother Gerald lovingly recommends, among other things, that she spend time with the Blessed Mother in the prayers of the Rosary.
In Gabriel, Callahan does a great job of leading Tom through events that he clearly believes are of his own making while quietly juxtaposing Brother Gerald's own prayerful requests to infuse the monastery with a youthful enthusiasm and vigor that it hasn't seen in years. Soon enough, coincidence yields to providence in illustration of Romans 8:28, "We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."
Filled with rich characters, excellent dialogue, and interesting events that make it difficult to put down, Gabriel delights, with both its inspirational message and satisfying resolution. Whether Tom is watching a football game in the recreation hall with the monks or using his robust youthfulness to clean and clear the much overgrown gardens, Callahan has created settings in which the reader feels "there." The reader becomes intricately involved with Tom's plot and marvels, knowingly, at both the overt and covert ways in which the Lord works. Every reader of Gabriel, Blow Your Horn! will be left reflecting on his or her own life, looking at the ways in which the Lord has worked. Add this to the fact that all proceeds from Sister Carolyn's books help support her retreat house, Windridge Solitude, and you have a perfect summer read!