Even when people claim they want change, most really don’t. Change is uncomfortable and can make you late for breakfast.
There’s a lot of discomfort floating around in Carding at the moment because people’s views of one another are changing. This Chronicle is part of a continuing story that began in the tale called Dearest Rosie. I’ll wind it up next week.
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Reverend Gordon Lloyd stood still in the doorway that opened behind the altar in Saint John’s Episcopal church, listening for the telltale rustle of another human being in the sanctuary. His lips were pursed, pressed so hard against one another they were nearly bloodless.
Why should I feel this way, he asked himself. I am the priest of this church, this pretty stone and clapboard place in Carding, Vermont.
The texture of the town was changing. Gordon could feel it stretched taut against itself in ways that were invisible to the eye but not to the heart. The worst part was, he knew the tension had originated in his church, and he wasn’t sure how to stop it.
Like everyone else in town, he’d heard all about the explosion in the Carding Quilt Guild, about the angry words, the accusations, the walkout, the irrevocable split among people who used to call one another friends (or at least friendly acquaintances). The split in the guild had been followed by the demise of the community theater group after the members got into a heated argument about whether to stage Shakespeare’s Richard III in the modern White House or not.
He’d heard about the pink hat flash mob in Cooper’s general store. And now some people were refusing to eat at the Crow Town Bakery after Diana Bennett posted a sign on the front door with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi that read:
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
And now here he was, a priest hiding in the shadows of his own church so that he could avoid talking about politics. Gordon Lloyd was so very, very tired of politics.
He had just decided the coast was clear when an urgent whisper reached his ear. “You can see that he’s got to go, can’t you?” It was G.G. Dieppe, choir leader, organist, and, Reverend Lloyd realized with a jolt, the source of the sour feelings now flowing freely through town.
“I mean, inviting a rabbi here to speak during our service. I never heard of such a thing in my life,” the other voice said. “Don’t they have their own places to talk to one another? Why do they have to come here?”
Then he heard the bang of the church’s front door. “To expand your horizons.” Edie Wolfe said in a voice that carried to the rafters. “Heaven knows, you sure could use expanding. Have you seen Reverend Lloyd?”
Gordon caught the hiss of his tongue before it revealed his presence. He wanted to hear G.G’s reply.
“Hmph, imagine you referring to a man of God by his correct title,” G.G. sniffed. “Reverend Lloyd indeed. I thought you were an atheist.”
Gordon smiled as he caught Edie’s familiar chuckle. He’d had a soft spot in his heart for that woman ever since he came to town. When it came to theological jousting, no one came close to Edie Wolfe. As a result of their many discussions over the years, they’d forged a deep respect for one another, and had probably gained a few IQ points in the process.
“I’m here, Edie,” he said, stepping out of the shadows. G.G. and her companion, a mousy woman that the priest didn’t recognize, jumped. “And yes, G.G., I did invite my friend, Rabbi Fradkin, to speak so that we would all be reminded how important it is to respect the religious beliefs of everyone. Even those you call atheists, like Edie.”
He turned to smile at his friend. “How can I help you, Edie?”
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK………………………………….
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The Carding novels are (in order of appearance):