Sweet Thyme Baby – 7


Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.


(Start at the Beginning of Sweet Thyme Baby)

(Click here to read Section 6 first)


Sharon snapped a band around her pony tail.


“Sunday is the Lord’s day,” Lance said. “You give six days a week to the market. Can’t you give one to Jesus?”


“I went to church. I taught Sunday school.”


“Sharon, remember that passage from Timothy 3?”


“You know I don’t.”


“It’s where Paul is writing to Timothy and he describes how it will be when the Last Days approach.” He waited for her to stop rubbing cream into her hands and look at him.


Eventually she said, “Tell me about Timothy, honey, I’m listening.”


“Paul tells Timothy what it’ll be like at the Last. ‘For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, swollen with deceit –‘.


“I’m not deceiving you.”


“But you’re lying to yourself. You’re putting the love of money before God’s will.” He remembered a scene of the Last Days from one of the books Joel published. He imagined himself like the man in the book walking toward Jesus and weeping as a pair of harpies dragged his fallen-away wife in the opposite direction. She cried for him to help her, but Satan’s minions had barbed hands. Her flesh bled and tore in the struggle. But it was the wife’s own fault.


“Lance, I don’t love money. I love paying the bills. Every month. On time.” The way she swallowed hard and looked away…. He could see that the pleasure had gone out of her afternoon. That was a small victory. “Please don’t make me feel guilty for doing what I have to do.”


Every month they argued over money. Why did Hamish have to be in expensive daycare with a bunch of godless teachers who read him fairy tales and celebrated Halloween? Should they refinance or take a second mortgage on the house? Could the Honda last through the next season? Always unspoken between them was the knowledge that Cabrillo Community Church had not been able to raise Lance’s salary in three years.


“You make it sound like I don’t provide for you and the boy.”


“Sweetheart,” she said, taking his hands, “I didn’t say that. I believe that if the Lord were to appear right now, right here in our bedroom, he’d say that since we need the money and I like working and since Greens is the only market in town and the deli is busiest on weekends, it would be a sin for me not to work.”


Her blasphemy made him want to roar like Jehoshaphat, but he controlled himself. “Please, do this for me. Today.”


He did not tell her that this Sabbath was different from others; he did not mention his premonition that it would be a special day. She would remind him that he did not believe in premonitions. The word was from the vocabulary of New Age paganism and surely sinful. Or was it? He had heard other pastors use it. Maybe premonition, prophecy and discernment were all ways of saying the same thing. Perplexities like this and myriad others had troubled Lance since college, but he never had the nerve to confess to anyone how deep his confusion ran. For all that his own father’s faith seemed simple-minded sometimes; he had been a man of unquestioned goodness to whom Lance had never dared reveal himself. He would have been appalled to know what Sargassos of doubt his son swam through.


He observed no such weakness in Joel Jackson. With his big church and huge following, Joel worked God’s will with assurance. Lance knew that if he had a decent car and something in the bank he would feel assured too. He would stop worrying about worldly things and have time to ponder the transcendent if he didn’t have to argue with his wife over whether she worked on the Sabbath.


Sharon said, “You’re angry.”


“I’m not.”


“Lance, at least say, ‘yes, I’m mad because you’re working on Sunday.’ Admit it and we can have a fight.”


“I thought the Shepherd’s Mandate calls on us to turn the other cheek.” He did not bother to keep the sarcasm out of his voice.


“It also calls on us to tell the truth. And if you’re angry and you’re not showing it, that’s the same as lying.”


“I don’t see how it’s lying for a man to want his wife to stay home on the Sabbath. Particularly when the man is a pastor.”


She laughed and shook her head, gathered up a packet of tissues, her wallet and hairbrush and shoved them in a straw purse. “Why don’t you come to the market with me? You wouldn’t have to work. You could get some coffee at Dante’s and sit at one of the tables I put in last month. It’d be nice to have you there and you’d see how busy –.”


“If I did that, I would be condoning your behavior, Sharon.”


“I’m asking you to keep me company.”


“I thought you loved Jesus.”


“Oh, Lance, play fair.”


Hamish, three years old and wearing railroad overalls, steamed into the bedroom at that moment and tackled Lance around the knees, squealing and laughing like a birthday cake. “I’m a bumpy car, bump you over.”


Lance let himself be bumped over onto the edge of the bed. He fell back and the boy was on top of him. His eyes were swimming-pool blue like Sharon’s. Lance could see right into his soul. The innocence he saw there made his stomach clench with love.


Sharon grabbed Hamish under the arms and swung him off the bed. As she bent over Lance, the fringe of her pony tail brushed across his face and the fragrance of vanilla filled his senses. He remembered when they were first married, waking with the scent of vanilla on his own skin and thinking marriage was just as the Bible said, man and woman, husband and wife, their bodies and stories linked as one.


“I’ll take this little terror to the market with me,” Sharon said. “You’ll have the whole afternoon to yourself.”


“I’ve got a healing service at four and prayer meeting at six.”


“How can you heal anyone if you’re in a state yourself?”


“I’m not in a state.”


“Yes, you are. You’re furious with me and you won’t admit it.”


She left the bedroom. Over her shoulder, Hamish grinned at Lance. Lance followed them out of the room to the top of the stairs.


“Go for a walk in the garden, Lance. You can’t spend twenty-four hours a day ministering to other people and neglect yourself.  I’ll pick up Sam at Lindberg about seven.”


Her godless brother.


“Don’t make such a face.” She kissed him lightly. “We don’t live in ancient Sinai. It’s Nineteen-eighty-two. Modern times.”


Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.


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