“Please, help yourself, “ she invited him as she sat down on a second armchair.
As they collected their refreshments, she continued, “Okay, you wanted to compare and contrast our beliefs regarding religious faith or the lack of it. Is that it?”
“Beautifully summarised,” he said. “But I hope that we’ll be able to move on from that to see what other common ground we have between us.”
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“Mmm!” she said, “This sounds promising. Maybe there’ll be more than we expect.”
“ I hope so,” he said, “but starting with your summary. You’ve made it quite clear in the past that you have no time for Christianity. You are aware that I attend a ‘Christian’ church – whatever that means – and you seem to have formed your opinion of me based on that fact in particular. Am I right so far?”
“That’s an over-simplification, Steve. It’s only partly that but also the way that you often come across to me as a Holy Joe,” she said, “too good to be true.”
He took a sharp intake of breath, “Ouch!” he said, “ That hurt. On the other hand, I can see that others before you must have felt the same. I don’t know how much you know about my past history, but my wife left me – divorced me – because she felt that I was putting my, at that time, recently acquired faith first while neglecting her. In hindsight I realise now that she was right. What is often said of converts was true in my case. If I were to try to explain what, or why, I believed, you’d think that I was trying to convert you so, I won’t – either I mean – explain or try to convert you. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the past year, I’ve had a chance to re-evaluate my beliefs. When we were at the Wilsons’ a couple of weeks ago you made a comment about Christianity, but it was aimed at me.”
Steve saw that Cathy was about to interrupt.
“Hang on. Give me just a moment more,” he said, “You weren’t to know, but I had already resolved to quit the Readers’ course that I’d been following. In the days since, but not because of your comment, I have also quit my roles in church ministry and preaching. I’ve reached a point in my studies where I realise that there are beliefs and traditions that I can no longer claim to accept for myself. For that reason, I can’t continue to ask others to believe on the strength of my words or actions. Sheila, our vicar – and Beryl and George – are aware of this change, and of how I have come to a much more limited core of faith. I have also been in touch with my ex-wife to arrange to meet and tell her how sorry I am for how I made her feel.”
Cathy held her face in her hands as she looked at him, amazed.
“What did the Vicarina have to say about all this? I bet she’d have advised you to cross yourself before coming here if she’d known you might be consorting with the enemy.”
“Crossing is what Father Michael’s flock do, but she’s not the kind of vicar who’d see you as “the enemy”. Anyway, she said that she understood, and that what I’m feeling isn’t that unusual – even among the clergy.”
“So, you’re no longer a Christian then?” she asked.
Instead of an opening photo today, I’ve used a quotation. This section of the story – where we hear Cathy and Steve come to a better understanding of each other – is difficult to represent by a photograph. I’ll be using quotations to introduce each section of this key stage in their relationship.
I have, however, provided a photograph to feature. Bluebells in a garden – a harbinger of Spring.
I took the photo using my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor dslr camera with a 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.
EXIF data were 1/160 secs @ f/5.6 and 31 mm. ISO was 100.