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The Pastor Has Faith

“Do you want to tell me now?” North asked. “I only have a few minutes left. Choir practice later. I have to get out the hymnals and meet with Mrs. Chase, the choir leader. She’s your competition.” He was trying to sound light but his face told a different story.

“I don’t know what you mean.” Joellen had washed and was dressing methodically. She ran a hand over her hair, which was mussed. She was thinking about how to get out of here without littering her feelings all over the room. If she told him one thing, she feared she would spill everything and then she would lose him. She wondered if she could trust him, if he would see this as cheating on him. But who was she really cheating on now?

“I know there’s something,” North said, “but if you don’t want to tell me, that’s okay. I have no right to insist. Except maybe the right of someone who cares for you so much.”

“What about you?” she asked, turning to face him, fully dressed now. “Have you told me everything about yourself? Do you have any secrets?”

North smiled and slid off the bed. He was so tall. When she wasn’t with him, she always forgot how good-looking he was.

“Oh, please, let’s not quarrel. I have nothing to tell you because there’s nothing to tell. I’m not hiding anything. I’m just a little nervous to be back. I haven’t gotten used to this new . . . situation,” she stumbled to find the right word. And then she thought she’d better shut up before she put her foot in it. After she stopped talking, a wave of guilt flowed through her that was so strong she thought she might get sick. But it passed and she looked up at North and held out her arms.

“It’s funny,” he said as he stroked her hair, “because when we first got into bed, I could swear you already had a certain scent, the same way you smell after we make love. I could have sworn. But that’s crazy so let’s drop it now.”

“I have to bring the children to church this Sunday,” Joellen disentangled herself from his arms. She bent down to put her shoes straight so she could step into them. “It’s going to be hard for me to see you there.”

“My sermon’s going to be on honesty in daily life,” he said.

“And you don’t have any problem with that?” she asked. “I mean . . . well, you know.”

“I do have a problem with it,” he said as he walked toward the door. “But I also have faith that this will all work out for the best. Right now I feel we’re being honest with each other and that’s what’s important. Honesty is not an absolute, you know. It has shades and gradations, just like dishonesty does. I believe it when you tell me nothing is wrong or that you have nothing to tell me because I have faith. And that’s all I need.”

Joellen Part 3, Episode Thirty-Five

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