From the kitchen, two rooms away, Judith heard the phone clatter off the living room wall after first ricocheting off an as yet unidentified piece of furniture. There was no sound of broken glass, so at least it wasn’t a lamp or a vase.
She left the kitchen and walked into the living room, wiping her hands on her apron. As she got there, she stood in the doorway and simply stared at Ethan.
He was picking up a wooden candlestick, trying to ignore the hovering figure. As usual, his resistance failed long before her patience ran out. Glancing at her out of the corners of his eyes, he offered a weak, “Sorry.”
“You probably need to apologize to God before you apologize to me,” Judith said. “Don’t let your anger get away from you again.”
“I won’t,” Ethan said.
“Your father again?”
Ethan shook his head yes. He reviewed the phone conversation in his head and started to get angry again. “I just don’t get him. I understand that he’s happy about recovering from a lifetime of alcoholism, but he wants me to forget all the ugliness he put us through. I just can’t.”
Judith remained silent. They had been over this many times. There was nothing more she could say to help him. The choice was his.
“And now,” Ethan continued. “He keeps talking about how glad he is that he was an alcoholic, because that’s what led him to Christ. How is it possible to think that?”
Judith moved over to where Ethan was sitting, and slipped in next to him. She put her hand on his arm and said, “It’s his Three Weeks.”
“What three weeks? He was an alcoholic for a lot longer than three weeks.”
Judith smiled. “No, silly. Three Weeks … capitalized, as in ‘The Three Weeks’. It’s a Jewish Holiday called Bein Hametzarim.”
Ethan turned to look at her. “I thought you didn’t remember much about your Jewish upbringing.”
“I’ve forgotten most of it since I was saved, and Mom and Dad have settled on a semi-quiet peace accord with me. They don’t mention religion much anymore.”
“It’s been a long time, but I still remember a few things. The Three Weeks is twenty-one days when they honor the time of greatest sorrow in Jewish history.”
“They celebrate sorrow?”
Judith laughed. “They don’t celebrate, they mourn during the time when the Second Temple at Jerusalem was destroyed and they were exiled. They call it The Three Weeks instead of twenty-one days because they consider it the beginning of the Third Temple which is now in Heaven but will be rebuilt on Earth.”
“I don’t get what all this has to do with Dad.”
“It’s a time when good remained hidden. God created this world and saw it was good. So it follows that any circumstance must contain good in some manner. Of course there’s evil, pain, and suffering, but buried beneath there must be good. It has to be because God allows it, and He is the very essence of good. It’s why we say that hardship builds character, gives us strength, and allows our faith to grow. That’s the good that comes from our trials. And we have to look on those trials favorably because the result is so powerful.”
Silence. Ethan simply sat there, staring at the floor.
“I don’t know how to deal with all that.”
“Maybe that’s because you’re going through a time of concealed good yourself.”
“In what way?”
“You seem to have some forgiveness issues.” She patted him on the arm, leaned in, and kissed him. Rising, she said, “Remember, rarely are we able to understand what lesson is being taught in the middle of a trial. It's only afterward that we receive illumination. So the best thing to do is pray for the strength to bear it, and the patience to wait for God to reveal the answer.“
She smiled at Ethan, rose, and returned to the kitchen, leaving him deep in thought.
He sat silently for over twenty minutes, hands folded. Then, heaving a sigh, he stood up and walked to the phone’s current resting place at the juncture of wall and floor. Picking it up, he pressed the keys of his father’s number.
His father’s Three Weeks may have been over … his were just beginning.
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