Rose heard the song on the radio slowly fade in the background. Going to church for the first time was one of her favorite memories to replay in her mind. She turned the switch on the radio off and walked back to the sink to dry the dishes. The silence was heavy. The swish and squeak of the towel rubbing against the dishes offered a therapeutic rhythm.
She put the dishes away and made sure the kitchen was in pristine condition. The black speckled counters sparkled and the floors had a freshly cleansed glow.
Her favorite part of the day had come. Putting the water-filled kettle on the stove, she pulled one of her favorite mugs out of the cupboards. The mug was decorated with delicate pink roses and soft, swirling green vines. It was delicate and lovely. In the pantry she scoured the shelves to find her number one pick for tea–country peach. Securing the tea bag in the mug, she waited patiently for the kettle to signal the water reaching its tumultuous boil. Mug in hand, she shut the lights off in the kitchen and meandered over to their whitewashed porch with the sturdy wooden swing.
A refreshing, light spring breeze broke through the screens of the windows tossing some of Rose’s hair to the side. Lying beside the swing was Rose’s leather Bible, notebook and favorite pens. This was her resting place. The place where she was surrounded by the symphony of sweet cricket noises or where the soft rays of the sun descended behind the black canvas of mountains.
Her swing started to creak as she rocked back and forth. She spread out her Bible, notebook and pen across the landscape of the swing. She flipped the pages of her Bible, searching for the highlighted passages she always found comforting after a verbal slam from Tom. Naturally, her fingers turned to the book of Proverbs. She desperately needed the book’s wisdom.
“The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.
Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.”
Her eyes read the comforting words over and over until they started to blur. Tears quickly formed in her eyes. She prayed for Tom often. His greatest need was salvation. She knelt to the ground. Her knees found the indents on the floor that were born from numerous times she entered into prayer. She lifted up her eyes towards heaven to plead for the heart of her husband to know the truth about God, to know that HE was what Tom needed. The only one to transform a heart so broken would be Jesus himself.
Rose reached for the box of tissues sitting on the edge of the end table next to the swing. After blowing her nose and wiping the wetness from fresh tears off of her face, she laid her Bible and notebook on the end table and stood up. The “war” she was dealing with was not the torrential snide comments or the outbursts of anger from Tom. The war was knowing, believing, trusting that God heard her, saw her and knew her. It was a constant battle that she had to fight daily or sometimes hourly.
She softly closed the screen door to the porch hoping not to interrupt Tom as he watched MLB on the flat screen. The time in her resting place gave her the opportunity to pull away from the real world and pick up the scattered pieces, to go forward in the power of the one who truly loved her.
As she approached the living room, she listened to the batter crushing his hit for a home run. Cheers erupted from the speakers. As the noise grew louder, her heartbeat pumped faster. Being in the same room as Tom always made her nervous. Rose yawned and looked at the time. It was 10:00 on a Saturday night. During a commercial, Rose kissed Tom’s forehead and said goodnight. He didn’t pull her in for another kiss. He didn’t even respond.
From the outside they appeared happy, but from the inside their relationship over the years had grown cold and distant. She sighed as she climbed the stairs to their bedroom. Going to her closet, she picked out one of her favorite outfits for Sunday. She pulled out her blush pink cardigan that matched her cream top. For the bottom of her ensemble, she added her charcoal grey pencil skirt and low heels. To complete the look she partnered a gold necklace and droplet earrings. Sunday was her favorite day of the week. She remembered the faint smell of vanilla wafting in the foyer. People stood in groups with coffee or tea in their hands while they held their Bible in the crook of their other arm. Conversations exploded as people talked about their weekends or their daughter’s/son’s basketball games. It was lively and it was comforting.
Rose set her outfit to the side. She heard Tom coming up the stairway. She quickly brushed her teeth in the bathroom and folded down the covers of the bed. Tomorrow was a new day. One of her favorite days. All she had to do was close her eyes. For tomorrow she would be with her friends.
What Rose didn’t know is that she wouldn’t be sitting in the beloved church pews the next morning.