"I want to tell you about my wife - what a wonderful woman she is!"
Pastor Jerry Wright raised his arms in emphasis and swept his eyes over the congregation. In the back of the church he quickly found the focus he was searching for, quietly taking note of the young woman standing there.
"Oh, how I miss this goddess I have married," he wailed in a tortured whine. His face contorted in a look of extreme agony and then, in a dramatic transition, he smiled glowingly and continued, "But, God has sent me here to speak to you, to testify about that most luscious of creatures that He saw fit to bring to me. To me!" He emphasized this last statement by throwing his hands up toward the heavens and dancing in mock jubilation.
"I love you, Laura!" he shouted in delight. But all the while he kept check on the young woman at the back of the church.
Through the next hour and a half he entertained the crowd with the vivid story of his first meeting with, initial pursuit of, and eventual marriage to his wife. He enumerated her virtues and postured on his message of love, sharing, and fidelity, bringing his audience to their feet in roaring approval as he wound up his speech with shouted glorifications for love of God, their neighbors, and their spouses.
As the crowd began milling about after he'd dismissed them, he stepped from the altar and moved sociably among them. He had casually retained his study of the young woman, and began to move toward her with the nonchalance of one who was merely moving through the congregation to mingle with the parishioners. And then, when he was directly in front of her, he extended his hand in warm greeting.
"Oh, Pastor Jerry," she blurted, blushing. "It's so wonderful to hear someone speak with such love and reverence for their wife."
The minister smiled sweetly at her. "I'm sure your husband would say the same about you, Mrs......"
"Jenny," she stuck her hand out quickly and then continued shyly, "I'm not married - not yet. I'm only nineteen." The soft blush on her face grew more vivid.
Pastor Jerry took her hand and encased it in both of his. He smiled his most charming smile and patted the top of her hand. "Oh, you will be," he assured her. "You are most charming and very sweet." He patted her hand again and began to move away, then hesitated and turned back to her. "I don't suppose you'd like to meet my wife, would you? She'll be flying in later and we're going out for dinner. Would you like to join us?"
Her young eyes lit up at his invitation, and she eagerly agreed to meet with them. He wrote the name and room number of his hotel on her program, then turned back into the crowd.
At 6:00 that evening, the young woman knocked at the door to Pastor Jerry's hotel suite. When he opened the door, the minister was in obvious distress, but he motioned her inside and escorted her to a chair.
Pastor Jerry, what's wrong?" she pleaded softly.
"My wife," he wailed.
"What's wrong? Did something happen to her?"
He sunk down into his chair and covered his face with his hands. "Oh Lord, she can't make it," he cried. "And, I won't see her for another week."
He sighed deeply, then looked vacantly about the room. He appeared to be thinking - no doubt of the woman he was missing so desperately. Then he brightened a bit and looked sheepishly back at Jenny. "Would you object to joining me for dinner? We could order room service and eat here. Then I could be here for Laura's call." His eyes implored her to stay.
"Of course, I'll stay." She spoke gently, her voice offering reassurance and sympathy.
"Oh, Laura, thank you!" His smile returned and he sat beaming at her.
"Pastor Jerry, My name's not Laura. It's Jenny," she reminded him..
His smile turned to shock and he rushed to apologize. "Oh dear, I'm so sorry. Please forgive me." He shook his head as if to clear it, then chuckled slightly, the warm smile returning. "Of course, you're not Laura. I'm sorry. My wife....." He looked down, embarrassed, then brought his gaze directly back to hers.
"Actually," he stammered, "would you mind if I called you Laura? Then it would seem a bit more like she was here."
Jenny nodded and smiled shyly back at him. "That's okay. I'm sorry she couldn't make it. I was looking forward to meeting her."
"You two would like each other," he said softly. "Actually, you're very much alike." He reached out and tucked a wayward strand of her hair back from her face, then took her hand in his. Ever so gently, he eased her from her chair and pulled her close to him. "Laura, oh, Laura," he whispered softly into her hair.....
"Pastor Jerry!" Jenny pulled away in surprise.
A look of pain flashed over his face and he closed his eyes to hold back the tears that had sprung into them. "You look so much like her," he whispered. He stood stooped and ashamed, stunned at what he had just done.
Jenny reached out to him, soothing his embarrassment with a tender smile. "It's okay."
"Just let me hold you a minute, he begged softly.
This time she didn't resist. He traced his lips down her chin, then pulled her close again. "Oh, Laura," he groaned, "stay with me. I have to leave again in the morning, and I miss you so much when I'm gone." He slid his mouth over hers.....
"I want to tell you about my wife - what a wonderful woman she is!" Pastor Jerry Wright raised his arms in emphasis and swept his eyes over the congregation. As he spoke, his eyes moved over the crowd and came to rest on the obviously shy young woman sitting in the back pew with some of her friends.....
© 1994 The Minister's Wife ~ JM Shephard ~ JOY in the arts!
from White Chocolate Woman © 1984 JM Shephard ~ JOY in the arts!