From the first moment, Jon and Eileen loved the church. It was small, only holding about two hundred folks. More a chapel than a full-size church, and definitely not a mega or a cathedral. Just perfect for Eileen and him.
The couple, in their early fifties, walked around the grounds till they found the fountain behind the building. It sprang out of a pond. Eileen looked at her husband. “It’s a lovely place. I love it.”
“Then I’ll accept,” Jon said. Had he not received her approval the answer to the church committee would have been no. From the first moment since they started dating, Eileen had veto power over any decision he made.
Then they went to tour the parsonage nearby. Eileen’s only comment, “It needs work.”
Jon brought this up to the Deacon’s Committee. “We’ll take care of it,” they agreed. They wanted this man and his wife to pastor their church. It had been six years since their full-time pastor of thirty years died.
Over the years the Committee had interviewed a number of men and a few women for the position. None fit the bill. Several came close. One, a woman, came very close. But there had been something about the husband. He didn’t feel right. Two months after the interview, they later found out, he had cheated on his wife and she had committed suicide. No, the pastor came as a couple or not at all.
“When can you move in and begin?” Deacon Rich asked. He was head deacon and chairman of the committee.
Jon looked at Eileen, then back at the deacon. “How ‘bout the first of next month?”
“That would be fine,” the deacon said.
As the couple drove the hundred miles or so back to their temporary home, the two rode in silence. They had waited two years to find the perfect people for them to shepherd. They were ready for this new start. There had been so much struggle in their lives. They had been single until they were forty. Both had had disastrous relationships. Both had grown up in abusive homes. Both had failed at just about everything they had done.
Until they met in a bar one night ten years ago. Earlier in the evening they each were abandoned by their dates. They were just about ready to go home with anyone, so great was their loneliness. Eileen sat down beside Jon.
“Scotch,” she ordered from the bartender. Thoughts of suicide ran through her head. Bad relationships, bad job, lousy life, she was thinking.
Jon turned to the woman sitting next to him. Somehow he knew that his life was about to change. Somehow he knew he was about to become someone he never thought he could be.
He smiled at Eileen. For some reason, she smiled back. She wasn’t sure why. She decided to take Jon up on his smile. “I’m Eileen and I drink my scotch straight.”
“I’m more a rum and coke man myself,” Jon said. “And my name is Jon.”
The bartender brought her drink. She took a sip, then asked, “What is the worst thing that’s ever happened to you?”
“It’s hard to choose. There have been so many.”
“Pick one. The most recent.”
“My date went to the bathroom and didn’t come back.”
“Did she leave you with the bill?”
“Not only that. She stole my wallet.”
“That’s pretty bad.” Eileen said, then she considered what to do next. The one thing she did not want to do that night was to go home alone. “Would you like to go home with me tonight?” she offered.
“I’d like that very much.”
When they left the bar, they walked down the street and headed toward Eileen’s apartment. Not knowing what to say next, they both said nothing. Suddenly Eileen’s heel broke. “Damn,” she said, then laughed. “Well, that makes for a perfect evening.”
Jon gave her his arm to help her steady herself. “What’s the matter?” He was thinking there was something wrong with him. There wasn’t. He was just fine.
“I broke my heel,” she said and removed the shoes from her feet, then the other one. Then she laughed.
Jon liked her laugh. It was then that they noticed a small chapel. It was an out-of-the-way place, set off from the street.
“What do you think?” Jon asked.
“Let’s see if it’s open.”
They looked at the name of the chapel. St. Jude’s Chapel, it said.
“Patron saint of lost causes,” Eileen informed Jon.
The chapel door was open. They went inside. The chapel was lit by candles. There was no one there. They found a pew and sat down side by side. For the rest of the night, they sat in that chapel and didn’t say a word. Then Eileen glanced at her watch. “Oh, my God,” she said. “It’s seven a.m.”
Jon and Eileen walked out into the fresh air. “Would you like to get some breakfast?” she asked.
“I don’t know. Guess we’ll figure it out.”