We come to the conclusion of this story. If you have enjoyed it, I would like to hear from you.
“Thank you. I’ve heard some other women in this church say it, and now I have experienced it myself. You really know how to listen, and that can feel very good.
“Harold knew how to listen—once. I think that was what first attracted me to him.” She snickered. “Just my luck. I meet two men who know how to listen, and one’s a friggin faggot and the other is a preacher with morals.”
I tried to offer a stern look. “Eleanor, I have serious questions as to whether Harold is gay and even if he is, the word ‘faggot’ is inappropriate.”
She grimaced. “OK, I will be a good girl now and behave myself, but sometimes it feels good to be a little crude in a safe place. I never understood what a sanctuary was before, but you are good at offering sanctuary.”
“When was the last time you talked to Harold?”
“We spoke yesterday. He wanted to take the children to lunch.”
“How did he sound?”
“Pretty low. It seemed to lift his spirits when I agreed that the children could have Saturday lunch with him. He really is a good father.”
“Eleanor, a few minutes ago you acted in a way that seems out of character.”
She blushed. “I’m sorry. I bet you thought you were in a scene from Desperate Housewives.”
“What I thought was that, for a moment, you were overpowered by an almost uncontrollable need to affirm your worth. I raise that for two reasons. One, I want us to get beyond it. And two, I want to suggest that Harold may be feeling that same sense of unworthiness.”
“I think I see what you mean. I’ve been so angry I haven’t given him or his needs much thought.”
“Whatever else is true, he is both the father of your children and, up until that incident, had been a supportive husband It might be helpful for him to hear that from you.”
She stared at the floor in silence. After about a minute, she looked up. “I’ll call him as soon as I leave here. Is your secretary right next door?”
“Uh, yes she is.”
“Would you ask her to come in for a moment?”
Although a little puzzled, I punched the phone’s call button and asked Margaret to step into the office.
As Margaret entered, Eleanor stood up and introduced herself. “Margaret, I’m about to give your boss a very affectionate hug for what he’s done for me today, and I asked you to come in to protect his reputation.”
Eleanor hugged me and then she was gone, leaving me a little breathless.
“I never knew being a pastor’s secretary could be so much fun,” Margaret said with an impish smile on her face.