“So, you’re no longer a Christian then?” she asked.
The minister says to the bridegroom
N, will you take N to be your wife?
Will you love her, comfort her, honour and protect her,
and, forsaking all others,
be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?from the vows section of the order of service for marriage: alternative services series one
“Not in any sense that many people would understand. I’m at a stage where I have some sort of belief in God – but not the personal sort that you pray to, or fear judgement from. I still revere most of Jesus’s teachings about how to treat others, but without a personal God how could Jesus be the Son of God? If there is no personal God then how can I believe in a Holy Trinity? Or in Jesus as a Son of God born to a virgin Mary?”
He looked at her to check her reaction. He found it difficult to read her expression. The elbow of one of her arms rested on the wrist of the other and the knuckles of her resting arm supported her chin. Her brow was furrowed as if she were deep in thought. One of her eyebrows was raised – whether in puzzlement or scepticism he couldn’t tell.
“Are you with me so far?” he asked.
She moved the knuckled hand away from her face to indicate that he should continue.
“I still even wonder about God’s role in creation” he said. “Just as there are eminent physicists who doubt that the Big Bang accounts tell the whole story. In summary, I have no real idea about what kind of God I can believe in – if any.”
“Okay,” she hesitated, “I can see now why you think that our positions are closer than I may have understood. But why would you think that your wife might come back to you just because you’re now ready to recant?”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t explain properly. I don’t think anything of the sort. Marjorie is happy with her new partner – and I’m happy for her. I don’t expect her to forgive my neglect of her. She probably, rightly, may see it as unforgivable. But I never apologised at the time and I want her to have a long overdue apology to, perhaps, give her some sort of closure. I don’t know whether she still harbours any residual bitterness. She may well do. But I still need to say sorry in any case because I believe that bitterness can be very damaging to how you feel – that it can corrupt your ability to feel joy. So, if an apology from me – however belated – can help assuage any such bitterness, I give it gladly. Too my son as well.”
Chivers moved his head across to Steve’s wrist and gently closed his jaws around it to give him a nip. Steve lifted his wrist in surprise and Chivers scuttled across the floor to Cathy.
“Did that hurt?” she asked.
“No,” he said, “not really. It was just a surprise. Perhaps he’s as sceptical as you.”
“All cats are both cynical; and amoral. He does enjoy being stroked,” she explained, “but when he’s had enough, he’s had enough. Nipping you is his way of letting you know. He doesn’t have the language to tell you any other way.”
“I remember,” he said, “When Marjorie and I were together we had a black and white tomcat, and he did the same. She took him with her but he’s probably dead by now. He’d be quite old.”
“Right,” she said, “Going back to what you were saying, that’s all been a bit of a shock. It must have taken a hell of a lot of un-thinking and self-examination to bring about a turnaround like that. Do you think that you’ll ever go back to that former type of Christian belief again?”
Instead of an opening photo today, I’ve used a quotation again. 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. A garden cherry tree in blossom – another 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 1/25 secs @ f/10 and 28 mm. ISO was 100.