A NOVEL OF TRAVEL BACK IN TIME
When I entered the café, a man in a black suit that was almost identical to mine said hello.
I smiled and responded with “Hello. This is a fine day, isn’t it?”
He was a little taken back by my forwardness, but responded that it was a fine day that the Lord had given us. I immediately thought this must be a local minister.
He asked if he could join me, and I extended my hand to the empty chair at my table. He sat down and introduced himself as the local Methodist Minister, Pastor Jake Chambers. I told him my name, and we shook hands.
He asked all the questions with which everyone had already peppered me and finally asked where I was staying. I told him “the Grays,” and he looked at me very surprised.
“I understand that you have been given the local school teacher’s job,” he said. “Doesn’t that give you pause to stay with the Grays?”
“I guess word gets around fast about my being appointed to the new job,” I replied, “but I don’t know why staying with the Grays would give me pause in my job. Hattie Gray was the one who suggested I talk with Mr. Throckmorton about the vacancy.”
He raised his eyebrows and said, “Really?”
I thought this was odd and added, “Why would you say that?”
“Oh, nothing,” he shrugged. “Forget I mentioned it.”
I didn’t try to pry any additional information, but planned to talk with Hattie about it when I returned.
Pastor Chambers asked, since I was now a pillar of the community, which church I would be attending on Sunday. This had never occurred to me as a responsibility that accompanied my new job, but I began to understand what duties were thrust on certain office and job holders in a 19th century town.
I respectfully told the Pastor that I was an ecumenical believer. He gave me a quizzical look, and I explained that I didn’t attend just one church, but visited a different one each Sunday.
“How can you adhere to the tenets of each faith to get into heaven?” he asked. “It would seem to be an impossible task.”
“Well, I believe there are some basic tenets of faith that, if undertaken, will allow anyone into God’s Realm,” I said.
He looked at me as if I had grown horns. “Well, we will have to speak more about this.”
“Yes, we will.” I got up and extended my hand, which he reluctantly shook.
I put a nickel on the table and walked to the bank.