Hank Questions Ede

It was Saturday and they were having lunch at Ede’s grandmother’s house. Ede could tell that something was troubling Pastor Hank. He wasn’t his usual jovial self. He was pleasant when interacting with her grandmother but a few times, she caught him watching her with an guarded expression on his face.

She couldn’t wait to be alone with him to find out what was wrong and if it had something to do with her although she couldn’t imagine what she could have done to upset him. They had such a great time at the game on Sunday and they had chatted on the phone for hours during the week and everything was fine until today.

They went out into the backyard and sat down on the bench. Ede removed her sweater and tied it around her neck. She saw the way Pastor Hank’s gaze traveled over her before he looked away. “What’s wrong, Pastor Hank?”

He looked at her. “Ede, are you still in touch with Father Desjardins?”

For a moment, she stared at him, wondering why he was asking her about Father Desjardins. “Yes. He sent me a postcard from Ireland and a birthday card. We sometimes exchange emails.”

“Was there something between you and him?”

“No. He’s a priest.”

“I know, but priests are men too and they have feelings like the rest of us. Was he attracted to you?”

“Yes.”

“And were you attracted to him?

“Yes, but nothing happened because he was a priest.”

“If he weren’t a priest, would you and he be engaged or married by now?”

“I-I don’t know.”

“If he were to come back to Cotonou right now and tell you that he had left the priesthood, what would you do?”

“That’s not going to happen–“

“Humor me, Ede. What if it does, what would you do?”

“I guess I would be shocked.”

“And, what else?”

“I would ask him why he left the priesthood.”

“And what if he told you that you were the reason?”

“Why would he leave the priesthood for me?”

“Because he’s in love with you and wants to marry you. What would you say to him, Ede?”

“I-I guess I would tell him that if he had done that when I wanted him to I would have said yes.”

“Are you telling me that if he were to leave the priesthood, come here and propose to you, you would turn him down?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Things have changed.”

“What things have changed?”

“My-my feelings.”

“Why have your feelings changed, Ede?”

“They’ve changed because–because of you.”

“Me?”

“Yes.”

“Are you saying that I’m the reason why you wouldn’t marry Father Desjardins?”

“Yes.”

“So, you no longer have feelings for him because of me?”

“Yes.”

“Are the feelings you have for me the same kind of feelings you had for him?”

“No. My feelings for Father Desjardins developed over a period of time because of our talks and the amount of time we spent together. My feelings for you were there from the moment we first met and that scared me. I-I tried to fight them.”

“Is that why you were hesitant to go to Ouidah with me?”

“Yes. I wanted to turn your invitation down right away but I couldn’t. I–I wanted to see you again.”

“Oh, Ede. You don’t know how relieved I am to know that you have feelings for me. I have very strong feelings for you. I’ve had them since that day when I looked through the store window and saw you standing there behind the counter.”

“Really?”

“Yes. I had to come inside and meet you.”

“I’m glad you did, even though at the time I was still thinking about Father Desjardins and missing him.”

“I’m grateful to him for not leaving the priesthood.”

Ede smiled. “I never thought I would say this, but I’m grateful too.”

“How do you feel about dating a pastor?”

“Pastors date?”

He laughed. “Of course, they do.”

“I’ve never dated before. My studies have kept me busy.”

“And I’m been too busy with my pastoral duties and until I came to Cotonou, I hadn’t met any woman I wanted to be in a relationship with which would lead to marriage.”

“How would your church members feel about you dating a Catholic?”

“I guess they wouldn’t be too happy about it but I could remind them of Boaz and Ruth, Solomon and Pharoah’s daughter, Moses and his Ethiopian wife and Salmon and Rahab. They were all interfaith marriages but they all came to worship the same God. You and I worship the same God and we have both accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior.”

“But, we go to church on different days of the week.”

“You’ve been coming to Harvest lately.”

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“Yes, but I’m still going to church on Sunday.”

“Alone or with your grandmother?”

“With my grandmother.”

“Would you still go if she were not able to?”

Ede thought about it. “No, I don’t think so. It’s hard going to church on Saturday and Sunday.”

“Pray about it, Ede.”

“I will. Before we do the Bible Study on the Holy Spirit, could we do one on the Sabbath?”

“Sure. Just let me know when.”

“Thanks, Pastor Hank.”

“I’d like you to start calling me Hank.”

“Yes, Hank.”

“Have dinner with me tomorrow evening.”

“All right.”

He smiled. It felt like the sunshine after the rain.

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