If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men – Romans 12:18, NKJV
“I can’t believe that we’re near the end of December. Soon it will be the New Year,” Melinda said to no one in particular. She was sitting on the sofa in the warm and cozy living-room in her parents’ Victorian cottage in Yorkshire. It was Sunday and her friends Emma and Layla were spending the day. It was cold and dreary outside so they opted to stay in and lounge around the fireplace. Melinda’s uncle, Laken was visiting from London. All three girls thought he was cool and not uptight like most adults.
“Speaking of Christmas, I learned something new today,” Layla announced as she walked into the drawing-room. She was looking straight at Pierce, who was sitting by the fireplace reading a book. He looked up and their eyes met.
“And what’s that?” he inquired.
“I learned where Boxing Day got its name from. It was traditionally a day off for servants and the day when they received a ‘Christmas Box’ from the master. The servants would also go home on Boxing Day to give ‘Christmas Boxes’ to their families.”
“That’s nothing new,” Emma scoffed, waving her hand dismissively.
“Did you know that it originated in the middle of the nineteenth century under Queen Victoria?” Melinda piped in.
“Yes.” Emma replied.
“Did you know that in Ireland, Boxing Day is also known as “St. Stephen’s Day” named after the Saint stoned to death for believing in Jesus?”
“Yes and that there used to be a barbaric tradition called the ‘Wren Boys.’ Those foolish boys would dress up and go out, and stone wren birds to death then carry their catch around the town knocking on doors and asking for money. Apparently, the stoning represented what had happened to St. Stephen. Fortunately, that heinous tradition is no longer carried out but the Wrens Boys still dress up but instead they parade round town collect money for charity.”
“Is there anything you don’t know?” Layla asked Emma irritably. She wished they would both go away and leave Laken and her alone. She went over and stood in front of the fireplace, facing him. “What are you reading?” she asked.
“Angels And Fools. It’s an autobiography of an Irish author who met and fell in love with an older woman whom he met while on holiday in France when he was in his twenties. She was a married woman and he was engaged to an Irish girl he had known since childhood. Nothing sexual happened between him and the older woman because neither wanted to commit adultery which they both considered to be a sin but they bonded and connected emotionally. He spent one whole day with her before she returned to her husband in Provence. He spent the rest of his holiday in Dublin reflecting on his life before he met her and what his life would be without her.”
“Did he marry the Irish girl?” Layla asked.
“Yes. They were married for thirty years and then she died. He was devastated because he loved her deeply.”
“I thought he was in love with the other woman,” Emma said.
“Yes, he was in love with her.”
“So, he was in love with her and his wife?” Melinda asked, sounding and looking confused. “How is it possible for him to be in love with two women at the same time?”
“He loved his wife but he wasn’t in love with her.”
“I feel sorry for her,” Emma said. “I wouldn’t want to be married to a man who wasn’t in love with me.”
“It’s like Jacob, Rachel and Leah. Jacob loved Leah but he was in love with Rachel. And if Laban hadn’t tricked him into marrying Leah, Rachel would have been his only wife.” Layla looked at Laken and thought, If we were to get married, I hope that I would be your Rachel.
He caught her looking at him and smiled. He closed the book and set it on the table beside him. Standing up, he announced, “I’m going for a walk would anyone care to join me?”
Both Emma and Melinda said no. They preferred to remain where they were and watch something on the Telly.
“I’m up for a walk,” Layla announced and went to grab her jacket.
When they were walking across the fields, he said to her, “You and Emma aren’t exactly bosom buddies, are you?”
“I don’t mind her except when she acts like she knows everything.”
“Maybe she Googles a lot and that’s how she knows these things. You shouldn’t let that get to you.”
“I guess so. You’re right, I shouldn’t get so bent out of shape about it.”
“The Bible tells us that we ought to try to get along with people as best as we can.”
“I know but sometimes that’s really hard to do.”
“That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in. Ask Him to help you to exercise patience and self-control. There are people I’ve had to deal with and there were times when I came very close to losing it and then I’m reminded of Proverbs 19:11 which basically says that a wise man restrains his anger and overlooks insults. This is to his credit.”
“I know that it’s okay for us to get angry as long as we don’t sin.”
“So, how was your Christmas?”
“It was great. I enjoyed spending it with Melinda and her parents. How about yours?”
“It was fine. My brother and his family visited from New York. They’re flying back on January 3rd.”
“I have a confession to make,” he said, stopping and turning to face her once they were on the moors. The sun was shining but it was nippy because of the wind.
She hunched her shoulders and shoved her hands deep in her pockets. “You do?”
“Yes, I wanted to be alone with you, that’s why I suggested coming for a walk. I knew that Melinda and Emma wouldn’t come.”
Her heart began to beat faster. “You wanted to be alone with me?” She could hardly believe it.
He moved closer. “Yes. You must realize by now that I have feelings for you, Layla.”
“I was hoping that you felt the same way…”
He reached out and cupping her face between his hands, he leaned over and kissed her softly on the lips. When, she put her arms around his waist and responded, he deepened the kiss. They stood there for several minutes, kissing and then, he broke it off to say huskily, “I hope this means that we can see more of each other.”
She nodded, beaming up at him. “Yes, it does,” she murmured breathlessly.
Smiling, he put his arm around her shoulders and they continued walking through the moors. They began dating from that day.