When Clara got in the car, I could tell it was not a good time to talk. She had fallen into the seat beside me, slammed the door and let out a little “humph”. Not an atmosphere for conversation. Brave and macho as I might be, I wasn’t crossing this bridge. So we rode home from Sunday morning service in silence.
Clara walked into the house, threw her jacket on the couch, kicked off her shoes and flopped into the recliner. I theorized that dinner would be late. “I’m not going back to that church again!”
Seeing she expected a response, I came up with the cleverest one I could think of, “Why?”
“Sadie Clemmons, that’s why. She lied to Alice Murphy about me, and then told me she hadn’t said it. I won’t go to the same church with that hypocrite!”
This pity party might take some time, I determined, looking for a way out.
“I’ve got to water the bushes. You sit there and relax for a while. When dinner’s ready, just holler.” I escaped into the yard knowing it had just rained yesterday, but maybe the bushes wouldn’t mind a little extra drink.
I went to church alone that night. Clara was still pouting.
Little was said about Sadie Clemmons the next few days. But the somber atmosphere around our house was still evident when it came time for mid-week prayer service. “I won’t be going tonight,” Clara muttered.
Saving myself a lot of time and frustration, I didn’t ask why. “Okay, I’ll be home as soon as it’s over,” I offered, kissing her on the cheek. I’ll be praying for you was not spoken aloud. It just didn’t seem like a good time to say it.
Next Sunday morning brought another standoff. Clara refused to budge. “I’m not worshiping with that hypocrite.” End of story as far as she was concerned. But I had to try.
“Clara.” I held her hands in mine and looked straight into her eyes. “How long are you going to hold onto this?”
“As long as Sadie Clemmons goes to church there,” she stared right back at me without a flicker of an eyelid. I thought of the Ice Maiden of Mt. Ampato, frozen in time.
I tried one more time. “Honey, I know that you’re trying to get even with Sadie Clemmons, but who are you really hurting? Sadie is still going to church with our friends; I have to go to church alone; and you have no place to go to church. Does that make sense?”
All my reasoning was met with silence.
I flung the keys to the old van onto the key rack as I walked out the door. “I’ll leave these for you in case you need them while I’m gone.” I didn’t wait for a comment, as I knew there would be none forthcoming.
God, how long will this go on? I queried, as I started the car and headed toward the church. I was just late enough to not have to explain Clara’s absence, but the looks I got from our friends clearly asked, Where is Clara? I knew my stay of execution wouldn’t last. I’d have to face the firing squad when today’s sermon was over.
Seconds before the sermon, I felt, rather than saw, Clara take the seat beside me on the pew. I wasn’t sure how to react. Had she thawed some?
She tossed the old van keys into my lap. “You know I don’t like to drive your van,” she whispered. “I’ll take the car home.”
“No problem,” I whispered back, as I gazed at her with questioning eyes.
“No problem,” she smiled.
I’ll probably never hear, “You were right.” But that’s okay, just being right is enough for me.
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