Lily planted her left foot on the blacktop of Beulah’s parking lot Sunday morning at 8:35 a.m. Sunday school classes began at 9:00. Vehicles peppered the parking lot, vehicles of the church’s staff and other members who volunteered to serve as teachers, musicians, and nursery workers. Lily liked being early because it fostered time to reflect upon what might unfold.
Her drive to Rook Friday night confirmed that she belonged here now, at Covenant to teach and find her place, and perhaps even at Beulah. She believed God would establish her with friends, like she was discovering in Mr. McDavid at Covenant and Donald here at Beulah.
She anticipated seeing Donald and shaking his Jergen-scented farmer hands in a few minutes. And she took comfort in the wisdom Fred Aims exercised in planning Covenant, the school’s board, and men and women of character with whom Fred surrounded himself. Moreover, Mr. McDavid and Donald promised the other Aims daughters would be at the upcoming board meeting. Yes, I belong here, Lily said to herself.
Walking towards the front door, she looked up to see Donald smiling. “Good morning, Ms. Lily. I’m glad to see you found us again.”
“Good morning, Mr. Donald. It’s good to be back. I even think I know my way to Sunday school. Forgive me if I’m too early.”
“I’m glad you’re early,” said Donald. “I have a few things I’d like to speak with you about, things Covenant related.”
“Yes, of course,” Lily said. “Has something else happened?”
“No, it’s not that. It’s more background information that might help you to navigate, as you say,” said Donald.
“I appreciate that–truly,” said Lily.
“You see, Ms. Lily. Beth is Fred’s baby daughter. The two older sisters moved off in large measure due to the way Fred and Ellen raised their girls.”
“Differently, is that what you’re driving at?” asked Lily.
“You see, Fred and Ellen would both admit today, after all the fallout, that they were very strict with the first two girls,” Donald said.
“But not with Beth?” Lily asked.
“Right,” Donald said. “You see, Sarah was the oldest. She was very bright, even as a young girl, but she moved off as soon as graduating high school. She moved to the city, went to college and law school, and now is married with her own career. Her husband Aaron is a lawyer in the city, with a career as successful as Sarah’s. They have one son named Nathanael, who’s as bright as they are, but whose heart is education.”
“I see,” said Lily. “So there were problems that led to Sarah moving off after high school?”
“Fred was very strict with Sarah when she was young. He drove her hard in her studies and at home on the farm. Fred was still farming during those years. Farming tends to bring some families together. But it also tends to break some families up, you see. Sarah was one more cut out for life in the city and one where she could stretch herself. And her dad and mom resented that, at least when Sarah was young,” Donald said.
“But did they mend the hurt feelings?” Lily asked.
“Oh yes, Ms. Lily, they did,” Donald said. “In fact, Sarah and Aaron are here today, along with Nathanael. You’ll meet them.”
“And they’ll all be at the board meeting tomorrow at Covenant, too,” Donald said. “Sarah and Aaron are on the board.”
“On Covenant’s board?” Lily asked.
“Yes. Very much so,” said Donald.
“And what about the other sister, the middle one?” Lily asked. “She moved off, too? And will she be here today, as well?”
“Yes, she’s here, too, Ms. Lily. She, too, had issues early on with Fred and Ellen. But like Sarah, she has blossomed over the years. Fred, though not with us, and Ellen would both tell you how proud they are of their older two daughters. And yes, you’ll meet her at tomorrow’s board meeting.”
“What’s her name, the middle one?” Lily asked.
“Ruth,” Donald said.
“And how are relationships with the three sisters,” Lily asked.
“Well, you’ll get a glimpse of that at the board meeting, Ms. Lily. You should be able to make up your own mind,” said Donald.
(To be continued)