Tuesday, 15 February 2011

God's dwelling place - Part II

“I must believe. I have a generous monthly stipend – and accommodation in the vicarage! A flock to attend to! Were I not to believe in Jesus, we'd be homeless, I'd be without employ! And my flock - so many bereaved parents - 20 other boys from this parish as well as Matthew and Timmy did not return home alive from war. I can't let my parishioners down,” said Reverend Whyteside.

His daughter replied glumly: “I don't believe in Jesus. I still believe in God, though - don't know whether He's all good and omipotent... " She looked anxiously at her father to see what effect her blasphemous words had had on the Vicar of Priors Marston. In the moonlight, she could discern a resigned expression on his face. He seemed indifferent to what she'd said.

"Let's be angels, Papa – let's not be us any more – let's leave this place and fly away and come into people's lives and bring them cheer - help them forget their sorrows...”

“What in heavens possessed you to say such a thing, girl? I help in practical ways; as a vicar, I am Jesus's intermediary here.”

“Well, neither you nor Jesus could save Matthew or Timmy or Mama...”

Reverend Whyteside looked grim. He knew Constance was absolutely right. He'd gone over this night after night after night. And that sermon - he'd surely earned God's wrath - assuming God was indeed a loving God. And if He was not a loving God - should he be serving Him?

They crossed a stile into a field full of sleeping sheep, the lambs close to the mothers. Another stile, and the path took them through an orchard in bloom.

The spring night was full of the most delicious perfume of nature in its fullest force. They walked on along a succession of footpaths in silent contemplation. Tentatively, the vicar reached out for his daughter's hand; he held it tight, this brought back some of the feelings of fondness he had for her as a child. But the thoughts were mixed; he could not think back to Constance as a five year-old without thinking of Matthew as a seven year-old and little Timmy, three. That happy nursery; such bliss. Gone for good. He'd never be a grandfather. Tears began to well up in his eyes.

At half past four, the eastern sky was decidedly brighter; quarter of an hour later a magnificent strip of orange-red expanded before them along the horizon. They stood still and watched. Birdsong accompanied this marvel, and their ancestors, born of the same Warwickshire earth and returned to it century after century would also have felt the unison.

The sun rose gloriously over the hill above Staverton. It touched more and more of the small clouds that had spread in from the west with pink pastel hues before flooding the sky with brightness and warmth, enhanced by the smell of the fecund soil under their feet. The both felt overwhelmed by a sense of total elation of the senses; this is what it was to be alive!

“When our plans and are hopes are shattered, we shouldn't dwell on them; we should not dwell on our loss, we should just live for moments of beauty such as these, moments that allow our spirit to overcome the sadness,” said Constance suddenly, with a look of wild abandon.

The vicar pondered his daughter's words, and gestured to her that she should continue to develop her thoughts.

"These moments transcend the grief, the everyday pain of what often seems like a futile existence. If you can't make plans any more, then let us make the most of our time living for moments of joy, such as this one, Papa," said Constance, hugging him around the shoulder.

“I shall have to alter Sunday's sermon accordingly!” replied the Reverend Whyteside, allowing a trace of a smile to cross his lips.

“What did Jesus have to say about this?” she asked.

“I can't say that I know,” he answered.

This time last year:
Beat this for a snowy winter!

This time two years ago:
Poland's most popular outergarments

This time three years ago:
The Frost Gods return

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

a most delicate and sensitive study of human vulnerability, frailty and hope, captured with your confident, economic prose style that allows the transcendental to pierce {ever-so-softly} through the mundane veil.

You are developing an excellent balance of themes that centre wholly upon what goes on in the human heart {good or bad, troubled or content, resigned or open to the force of human impulse}, what may go on in the soul and what we hope goes on in the infinite.

JW