Sheila placed a hand on his head and prayed for him.
Afterwards he thanked her for listening and her helpful comments. She wished him luck but not to worry about telling George what he had told her. She hugged him and he left, greatly relieved.
Saturday 9th April Steve’s House
Steve welcomed Beryl and George into his living room and asked whether they wanted tea or coffee. He had already left a jug of milk, a bowl of sugar, spoons, plates of cakes and biscuits on his coffee table. While they helped themselves, he went into the kitchen to prepare the beverages. He had filled and switched on his kettle just before they arrived, so he wasn’t out of the room for long.
As he handed the filled cups to them, he thanked them for coming. Beryl got straight down to business.
“George tells me that you’ve been worrying about something. It must be serious for you to convene a special meeting with us. It’s always nice to visit you, love, but I’m sorry to hear that you’re carrying some kind of burden that needs our help to lift it with you.”
“You make a great chairperson, Beryl,” Steve said, laughing. “I had a longish chat with Sheila yesterday. She knows that I’ll be seeing you this morning, and she’ll want to discuss what I’ve said with George. I’ve asked you here to cover the same ground as I did with her, to help you prepare. Are you sitting comfortably?” he paused to check their agreement, “Then I’ll begin.”
As he had promised, Steve repeated what he had said to Sheila, if not word for word, nevertheless comprehensively. Beryl and George looked at each other, both stunned and, momentarily lost for words.
It was Beryl, again, who spoke first.
“You poor man. This is obviously not something that has suddenly struck you. You must have fretted over these thoughts for months. I wish you had come to us sooner. First of all, don’t worry about what we may or may not think about you or your dilemma. At least you have been intelligent enough, adult enough and thoughtful enough, to have worked your own way through to this point.”
“Most of the people who call themselves Christian – even those in the pews every Sunday – never even get as far as your starting point. They are content to come, sing hymns, pray, doze through the sermon and then chat to their friends. The words they sing, the prayers they hear, and the bullet points of the sermon go in one ear and straight out of the other without ever passing through their brains. They leave with a quiet sense of peace – and that isn’t a bad thing.”
“It isn’t even a criticism: it’s just a fact. Most of them come because they were brought up to come to church, and they think it’s the right thing to do. Tradition comes into it as well. They understand the Ten Commandments and obey them to the best of their ability. They know the Lord’s Prayer off by heart, even if they never think about what it means. You are different. You’ve been seeking for meaning and you must not – I repeat – must not think of leaving our congregation.”
This was a marathon speech for Beryl. Steve had never heard her speak on any subject at such length. He was deeply moved.
“Is that everything that’s been on your mind Steve?” George asked quietly.
You may remember the photo preceding the text of today’s post – it is of course the image that I’m using to represent Steve’s house. Because the subject has still been Steve’s crisis of faith, I’ve chosen a photo of a different church again for variety.
For my featured photo, I used my 26 MP Fujifilm X-T4 cropped sensor mirrorless camera with a Fujinon XF 10-24 mm f/4 lens to take the shots. The shot is of a ter’s church’s in St Helens, Merseyside.
The EXIF data for the featured photo were: the shutter speed was 1/12secs @ f/5.6 and 10 mm. The ISO was 200.