It was a tight race between two of the offerings. One boasted very smooth writing, but seems limited to a small niche market. The winning entry tells a moving story with wide appeal, and the author frames it in a unique and lovely manner.
Trying to reconcile my life with what my church taught drove me to the edge of mental breakdown.
This is my story.
I looked to the young woman and she nodded enthusiastically.
“Do you have a piece of music in mind?” my husband asked.
“Well… no… but we really like that harp and flute piece you danced to during Communion last month. Something like that would be great.”
The piece was choreographed and perfected. The big day arrived. As the final notes died away and we turned to face the congregation, I saw tears in many eyes.
In a shower of smiles and confetti, the happy couple left the church. On the steps an elderly lady rushed forward and grabbed my hand. “Oh, that was so beautiful. Your love for each other shone out from every movement. Oh, and at the end when he lifted you high, gently lowered you… and directed your gaze toward heaven…well… it was just the loveliest thing. You two are such a blessing to this church.”
Plates of homemade biscuits and muffins were handed to me and heavy coats and scarves removed. Our old stone cottage had a welcoming charm that drew people even on the coldest night. Everyone relaxed in their favorite chair. The rustle of pages, the soft rise and fall of voices, and the crackle of the fire were the familiar sounds of our Bible study. Chatter and laughter during supper reached such a pitch it woke the boys. I went upstairs to settle them again which took quite some time. Coming downstairs, I found everyone had left quietly except one friend still clearing the supper things.
“It’s lovely to come here and sit by the fire with all your quaint old stuff about… sort of an escape from the real world. I envy you, you know…beautiful home, happy marriage… Where’s the cling wrap?” she called over her shoulder as she disappeared into the kitchen.
“In the old pine cupboard to the right of the fridge,” I answered from the sitting room.
I carried the last things through to find her standing with the cupboard door open.
She looked up with a troubled expression. “I didn’t know you were drinkers.”
With a knot twisting tighter in my stomach I moved to where I could see what she could see. There behind rolls of paper towel and aluminum foil, lying on its side, almost hidden by a pile of paper serviettes, was a half-empty bottle of rum.
“Left over from the Christmas cake,” came the quick reply, but my heart sank. Would she guess my secret?
My husband was an alcoholic but I smiled and pretended everything was normal, for in our church, those with problems were judged as spiritual failures. As I ushered my friend to the door I kept up a steady stream of pleasant chatter. I closed the door and leant against it wondering how long I could keep living this charade.
The charade had begun years before…