ABBY HIDES AT THE CHURCH DOOR
Dr. Geraldine Bear entered the cottage, saying, “I hope I’m not disturbing you, dear. I know we’re all exhausted from yesterday.”
“No, no, I’m up and around,” replied Abby quickly. “How are… um, things?”
The doctor looked at her carefully. “Well, things are generally good. But I’ve had to act on your behalf since I saw you last, and I owe you an explanation.”
“I already know,” returned Abby. “You told people I’m suffering from post traumatic stress, and can’t receive guests.”
“You must be wondering why I did this. I know it was presumptuous – after all, I’m not really your doctor. You have every right to be angry.”
“No, I’m actually relieved. You’ve given me an excuse to keep the crowds away. It’s all a little overwhelming.”
“Ah! You do understand! I’m trying to be your friend, unless you really want a doctor. And please call me Geraldine. You need some help here.”
“I’d like to know,” Abby said, “do you really think I have post traumatic stress, or just need a rest?”
“I would say a good deal of both,” answered Geraldine. “There are enormous conflicts here that affect all of us. These matters run very deep, and you probably know more about them than I do.” Geraldine waited for Abby to respond, but she began unpacking the grocery bags and avoiding Geraldine’s eyes.
“That’s okay dear, but if you need to talk, just let me know.”
“Oh, this food is just what I need!” exclaimed Abby, ignoring Geraldine’s offer.
“You have wonderful friends. Just a few minutes ago Phoebe, Stephanie, Jeremy, George, and Eddy all arrived with these gifts for you.”
At the bottom of the second bag Abby found an envelope addressed to her. She folded it in half and slipped it into a pocket of her jeans.
“My goodness!” cried Geraldine in alarm. She was looking out the small kitchen window. “Do you see? The crowd is already on the sidewalk! Tuck will need me. We’ll talk later, don’t go anywhere!” She disappeared out the door.
Abby stared out the window at the action on Bridge Avenue, watching people arrive on foot and stepping out of taxi-cabs. Soon a line of double-parked cars ran up the road as far as she could see, including a WBCS television van. Reporters were interviewing people on the street. Abby found it hard to remain still, and began to pace around the tiny cottage. “What is Tuck going to say?” she wondered. “Is he going to mention me?”
In half an hour she grew frantic, and exceedingly curious. Soon almost no one was left on the street. Abby opened the cottage door to get a better look, and noticed that the side door of the sanctuary was wide open. Clearly they needed a breeze through the church on that hot day. Abby examined the layout of the churchyard and made a plan. She climbed out the back window behind the line of old apple trees, and then advanced toward the church partly screened from Bridge Avenue by a few large maple trees. Finally she risked a few quick steps to a well-hidden position between the church wall and the back of the large, wide open door. Looking carefully through the opening at the hinges, Abby saw the altar well lit by a chandelier high above. Off to one side stood Geraldine at the podium, reading out loud from the Bible.
“From Proverbs, chapter 8,” she said.
Abby listened carefully:
“Listen! Wisdom is calling out. Reason is making herself heard. On the hilltops near the road, and at the crossroads she stands. At the entrance to the city, beside the gates, she calls: ‘I appeal to you, mankind. I call to everyone on earth… I was made in the very beginning, at the first, before the world began… before God made the earth and it’s fields or even the first handful of soil. I was there when he set the sky in place, when he stretched the horizon across the ocean, when he placed the clouds in the sky, when he opened the springs of the ocean and ordered the waters of the sea to rise no further than he said. I was there when he laid the earth’s foundations. I was beside him like an architect. I was his daily source of joy, always happy in his presence – happy with the world and pleased with the human race… The man who finds me finds life, and the Lord will be pleased with him.”
Geraldine bowed her head. “This is the word of the Lord,” she said.