This is the third part of the post, she did the best she could.
They walked in silence for what seemed like both forever, and only a minute; it was hard to tell, and harder still to consider, by reason of the barrage of questions that assailed his mind.
He held his father in high esteem – looked up to him even, and often defaulted to what he believed his father would have him do whenever he was in a fix.
Still, there were those questions that sometimes metamorphosed into accusations. He had nothing against the man. He just wanted to understand why – something that might never happen, since his father apparently had no intention of addressing this situation that had so marked their family, it changed them forever.
If the change was for the better though, only time could tell. And God.
As they rounded a corner, the church came in sight – and at the exact same time the thought had come to his mind that the church was the major reason for all they had dealt with as individuals and as a family – they called it ministry, and every member of the family bore marks of ministry that looked like scars.
He wanted to turn and run away, but he couldn’t do that while walking with his father.
If only he could come up with a good enough excuse that wasn’t a lie….
His mind (again!) failed to come up with a reason better than “I don’t feel well, sir”.
He must have blurted it out before he’d had time to chide his mind for not doing better because his father found some stones, motioned for him to sit with him and said something about how God’s cool breeze in the evening was good for your mind and your body.
It didn’t make very much sense. Hardly anything did these days – or all those years for that matter.
Plus, his mind must be feeling like a cranky toddler today, because before he’d had time to really consider it, he heard himself ask his father why.
“Why did you let it happen?”
As he sat down next to his father, some of those questions that had assailed his mind for years found their way out.
Hope that had burned out to mere flickering was fanned again – probably by God’s cool breeze this evening. Or just by realizing that there was the possibility that today could be the day his father would help him make sense of this mark they had borne all these years.
“You could have stopped it”, he told his father, “helped her see how she was doing it wrong, but you let it happen until it broke the family. Why?”
Receiving no answers, he followed his father’s line of gaze to see what held his interest. Nothing.
Nothing that he could see, at least.
Maybe today was not the day he had been waiting for.
He would give it a few more minutes – out of respect for his father – and then he would be gone for good this time.
His wife could enlist all the help she could get, but there was no way she was getting him back here again.
Just when he decided he had given it enough time, his father got up, and began to walk towards the church. Realising he was walking alone, he turned and asked, “Are you coming or not?”
It was supposed to be a question, but it sounded like a command, so much so that it got his mind confused, and he heard himself say, “Yes sir!”
There was still a sense of foreboding though.
It’s not like he didn’t believe in God anymore. He fancied himself a wounded soldier who had retreated, and he wasn’t sure he was fully recovered yet.
And the sight of the church he had grown up in brought back memories that made him want to run away – or at least hide behind his father – something he had been doing for as long as he could remember.
At first it was missing Bible study and youth group meetings. Then it was getting permission from his father with bogus excuses, to travel for whole months.
At some point it had to be obvious he was trying to stay away from church, and from home – why did his father let him?
He was relieved to find the premises almost empty when they got to the church, and he was especially grateful he didn’t know the few people present. If he had to face one of the deacons from when he was a boy, and come under their spotlight, he might break down irreparably.
They went to his father’s office.
He retrieved a box of letters and brought out one.
Before handing the letter to his son, he led them in a short prayer.
Maybe today was indeed the day he had been waiting for all these years….
Because he could recognize that letter even in his sleep.
He could recognize it because he wrote it.
And the blood stains on the envelope were his own blood….
He was thirsty, in need of air, and feeling faint.
Plus a lot of prayers would help too.
“This, son”, his father told him, “is the beginning of the journey you should be on”.
He put his hand on his shoulder, “Remember this day like you should, and you might begin to find the answers you seek”.
He remembered that day well, and now the envelope not only had his blood on it, but his tears also….
He had written that letter in anger. Now, more than two decades later, he held it in remorse.
His father was right – he needed to retrace his steps and set out on the right journey if he would ever find the answers he was seeking.
“I don’t know what to do”, it was barely a whisper, but his father was there. He heard him, and gave the same counsel he had given for years –
This time it made perfect sense and he knew exactly where to begin.
“Would you walk with me?” he asked his father.
His father smiled, “I’ve been waiting for years, son”.
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