She startles the preacher at first when he enters the sanctuary this morning. He didn’t expect anyone to be there at nine A.M. on a Tuesday. But there she is. The sunlight filtering through the stained glass windows softly color her blonde and grey hair.
She is probably middle-aged or older. The years have been kind to her though. She is still attractive, large blue eyes and a friendly face. She is not dressed for church. As a matter of fact, she is slightly under dressed for church. Pastor Spira can’t help but notice that right away. Her tank top is tightly hugging her abundant bosom and its plunging neckline exposes too much of her. This causes him to hesitate to approach her.
The faraway look on her face is accented by a slight frown. It is this lost and bewildered expression that persuades the young preacher to sit down in the pew in front of her and ask if he can help in any way.
Her response is immediate, “Have I truly forgiven someone if I can’t forget how they hurt me?”
“Forgiveness is of course the right thing to do. But forgetting could be unwise.”
The woman, a stranger to the church, Pastor Spira believes, takes a moment to absorb his words which he spoke without hesitation.
“I’m Jackson Spira,” the young pastor extends his right hand. “I’m the pastor here.”
The woman examines Jackson Spira for a moment or two before she shakes his hand. He appears too young, too inexperienced to be so quick with the advice. He is also not who she expected.
“I’m Sharon,” she barely touches his hand and quickly removes hers and returns it on her lap while her other hand continues to twirl her hair.
Jackson wonders why she studied him and greets him so abruptly. He continues to smile at her to try and encourage her to trust him.
“What happened to the other preacher?”
“If you’re referring to Pastor Richards, he retired about a year and a half ago.”
Still twirling and pulling her hair, “I’ve been out of town for about thirteen years. I should have figured things would be different.”
Jackson’s first thought is that this church probably didn’t change too much in thirteen years. He has found it difficult to make changes and easy to find resistance when he does something that Pastor Richards didn’t do. He chooses to keep that thought to himself.
There is a few moments of quiet while both parties try and find a segue back to the initial discussion.
“I always heard it said “forgive and forget.” You seem to disagree,” Sharon decides to just jump back in where they left off.
“I want to be careful since I don’t know the person or the reason initiating the forgiveness.”
“You certainly don’t talk like Frank, I mean Pastor Richards.”
It’s not like Jackson hasn’t heard that before. He’s learned to ignore it, lately and press forward.
“When someone causes you pain, it can be dangerous or at least foolish to forget that they hurt you. Forgetting is more like agreeing that what they did was alright. Forgiveness is not.”
“I never thought of it that way.”
“Forgiveness is about accepting a fact of life. We cannot expect perfect behavior from even the people closest to us. None of us are capable.”
Sharon smiles at this. Jackson puffs with pride thinking he perfectly solves her dilemma.
“Now, that sounds like Frank.”
The moment of self-satisfaction fades, “You must have known Pastor Richards pretty well.”
“Oh, yes, Pastor Richards, as you call him, and I were really close friends at one time.”
“Were you a member here?”
“Heavens, no. Frank kept after me to join and become a regular. I just couldn’t see it.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, how did you get so close?” Jackson unconsciously leans in closer resting both arms on the back of the pew that separates him from Sharon.
“We grew up together. Right here. Frank and I dated some in high school.”
Jackson rests his chin on his hand. He really cannot understand why he is so fascinated by Sharon’s and Pastor Richard’s relationship. Then, he suddenly realizes it could be that he hopes to hear some gossip that taints the halo of the man he proceeds as pastor of this church.
“So, you remained close even after high school, then,” Jackson researches.
“After high school, we went to separate colleges. He went away. I stayed closer to home. He got a degree. I dropped out and started working at the family floral shop. He brought home a bride. I never married.”
“But it sounds like you still were close or did I misunderstand?”
“No. you didn’t misunderstand. I’d drop in like this every now and then, right here in one of these pews. He’d listen to my sad stories or laugh with me about some crazy adventure I found myself doing, that is up until about thirteen years ago.”
“Why did you leave?” Jackson sort of hopes it had something to do with Pastor Richards.
“Frank and I started getting closer after his wife, Anna died. At least, I thought we were.”
Jackson detects a pang of guilt build up inside his own soul. His selfishness may be causing Sharon more hurt instead of bringing her comfort, he thinks.
“I realized more and more that I still felt something strong for Frank. I think he was feeling it, too. He even took me out to eat a few times and I had him over and fixed him a meal.”
Jackson wants to ask what happened, but now that seems so inappropriate. Besides, they really stray from her original issue. All because of his jealousy for the good man he replaces.
“I think if I’d been more religious….”
Sharon turns and stares out one of the stained glass windows. Jackson watches her closely. He can imagine how beautiful she must have been in her youth as the strain lines in her face soften.
But just as suddenly and as quickly as her countenance drops it begins to rise again. There is a gleam in her clear blue eyes.
“I have forgiven Frank, even though I cannot forget how he broke my heart. But you’ve convince me that I shouldn’t forget or I could be hurt again. I know what I must do.”
With that, Sharon stands, leans over the pew, and kisses Jackson on the cheek. Before Jackson can completely assess what just happened, Sharon slides out to the isle and out the sanctuary door.
Jackson sits, his hand covering the kiss-induced cheek. He closes his eyes.
I write about what I'm thinking or what I've imagined in an effort to regain that childhood imagination and marry with my many years of real experiences. I'm getting better at it the more I write.I am a published author of two romantic intrigue novels.My books can be found at Amazon.com or if you want a personalized copy, by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.