We were at our usual gathering place after Church. Nice folks, Love spoke a kind word about my sermon on her way to the next table where Doctrine droned on to illuminate some point. I smiled, for only God could have knit those two into a beautiful marriage.
At our table, Hope came to where Faith sat next to Tradition. His chin was drooping to his chest, again. Tradition never seemed to say much anymore, but we loved him. Hope then noticed Christian. She grabbed another chair so Christian could sit next to Faith. She and I tried to get those two together but though cordial, their relationship would just never catch fire.
The door flew open. A gust of invigorating air stirred every table. Even Tradition stirred as she made her entrance. Who couldn’t notice her skirt and black leggings as her heels rang sharply over the tiles. She picked up her latte and began our way.
“Hi Dad,” she said, as she leaned to kiss Tradition’s forehead. As she did, I could see Christian’s eyes.
Tradition asked, “Can you bide awhile?” She only smiled. Faith bristled as the newcomer turned toward the door and Hope sighed. But I noticed Christian’s cup halfway to his mouth. His lips were open and his eyes followed.
“Who was that?” he murmured. Faith grimaced and even Hope rolled her eyes. With a glance at me, Tradition muttered, “I should have drowned that child at birth.”
“But you didn’t,” I replied, “How could you have?” and turning to Christian, “That is Liberty.”
We began to see less of Christian. Once I came upon Faith with her eyes red and holding a tissue. She sniffed, blinked and turned away. Doctrine continued steadfast as always with Love at his side but Hope seemed concerned. Once I mentioned to Christian that he had missed an obligation. His brow darkened, “You, Preacher, would speak to me about obligation? Haven’t you said: The truth will set you free?” Before we could converse on this, Christian turned away.
Once, Liberty’s car drew my eye. Sure enough, Christian was with her. Relating this back at Church, I saw Faith quiver but Hope threw an arm around her. Later I said to Hope, “I guess we’ll never get those two together now.”
Hope just smiled, “Haven’t I heard, ‘We may be strengthened with all power, for all endurance and patience.’” “Ah, yes, patience.”
It was inevitable, according to Tradition, for he had seen ‘em come and go. He had tried to warn Christian against Liberty. But with their heads filled with Liberty, men rarely listen to Tradition. Soon she tired of Christian. Christian fought like a wildcat to hold her, but how do you rope the wind? And then I found him. Wavering near Church, disheveled and dirty, Christian looked as broken as his heart. “But it seemed so right! So natural!”
I tried to bring him in, but he would barely cross the threshold. I found myself alone with Christian trying to console the inconsolable, and salve his wounds. “There now, it’s alright. Pluck up, man, what if Faith was to see you like this?”
But Christian, red-faced and agonizing, cried, “Faith? What would Faith have to do with me now? I am not good enough for Faith!”
We heard a cough. Christian looked, his face softened and tears began to seep through the cracks of the crumbling facade. Recognizing her, I said, “You always know when to arrive, Grace.”
And Christian ran to the embrace of his mother, Grace, there, in Church.