Pastors' Conference, 1972

Pastors’ Conference, 1972, ch. 17-18

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Chapter 17

Chapter 17

Hub’s ambulance pulled up in front of the remains of Bluebird’s old general store. Glynn was relieved to see Jerry and Gladys Wheldon both standing with the Sherrif and other area residents surveying the damage. As they got out of the car, the Sherrif walked toward Hub and Jerry quickly made his way over to Glynn.

“Damnit, Hub,” the Sherrif said, “I’ve been telling the county commissioners since last fall that the sirens weren’t working out here and they’ve ignored me every month. ‘We don’t have the money,’ they whine. Well, now they can find the money to bury these people because they were caught totally off guard.”

“Talk about a kick in the teeth,” Jerry said on the other side of the ambulance. “The church building is completely gone.”

“How’s your home?” Glynn asked, compassionately putting a hand on Jerry’s shoulder.

“A couple of broken windows but other than that not it too bad of shape,” Jerry answered. “We were just sitting down to dinner. We heard the rain, of course, but there was nothing warning us about a twister until it was on top of us. No one had time to do anything, take shelter anywhere. This is bad. Bluebird effectively no longer exists.” 

“Where do you want us to start?” Hub asked the Sherrif.

The officer looked at the pile of debris and shrugged. “We know Kirkie and Deb were in the store. They always are. Store took a direct hit. I can’t imagine that either of them survived, if we can even find them. Don’t know yet if they had any customers in the store or not. It was supper time, ya’ know. Most folks were home. I guess we just have to start digging and see what we find.”

Several people from Adelbert and two more ambulances from Arvel pulled up to the devastating scene. Everyone in Adelbert knew someone in Bluebird. Several were related. Glynn knew there were three families out here who attended First Baptist, but having come in the ambulance with Hub prevented him from being able to check on them. All he could do for the moment was pray they were safe.

The Sherrif organized everyone into search and rescue teams with clear orders to call out if they so much as heard what sounded like a survivor amidst all the rubble. They were to remove the rubble carefully, a brick or a board at a time, debris stacked neatly off to the side. No one paid any attention to the rain still falling. No one cared. 

Work continued throughout the night. When it began to get dark, farmers showed up with lights and portable generators so the work could continue. They found Deb’s body first, near the front of the store where the cash register would have been. Hub and Glynn squeezed the ambulance through the line of vehicles and took her body to the funeral home. There was still no power anywhere in Adelbert, though they had passed trucks from Oklahoma Gas & Electric on the side of the highway, which provided some hope. They left the body in Rose’s care and then swung by Glynn’s house so he could change out of his now mud-splattered suit and into the grey pants and shirt he referred to as his work clothes. 

Wynona was still sitting in the candle-lit living room with Marve. The kids were in bed and Marve was hoping to do the same soon. Hub offered to drive Wynona home while Glynn changed clothes and she gladly accepted the offer.

“Is it as bad as the Sherrif said?” Marve asked after Wynona left.

Glynn nodded as he was buttoning the gray shirt. “Maybe worse. Everyone’s been focused on the old store. Jerry says the church building is completely gone but his house is okay. Don’t know yet about the school. There shouldn’t have been anyone there at this time of day, but you never know. I didn’t see many houses standing as we drove out there. Jerry says everyone was caught off guard. They just thought it was another thunderstorm.”

“It just seems to be one thing after another down here, doesn’t it?” Marve asked rhetorically. “I mean, last Saturday it was Carol and you spent most of the weekend in Tulsa. Now this and who knows how long you’ll be needed, or where. Doesn’t Mrs. Amekin and Florence Henry live out there?”

Glynn was bent over, tying his oldest pair of shoes. He sat up and took a breath before answering. “Yeah, they do. I was with Hub, though, so I’ve not had a chance to drive out and check on them.”

Marve sat on the bed next to her husband. “Should you take the car back out there?”

“I’ve thought of that,” Glynn answered softly. “But there are already so many vehicles lining the sides of the road that the ambulance could barely get through. I think another vehicle would just add to the clutter. Besides, Hub’s always going to be where things are the worst. The Sherrif seems to have everything reasonably organized. There’s supposed to be some people from Oklahoma City coming out, too. I’m sure we’ll get around to everyone as quickly as possible.”

Marve leaned over and gave Glynn a kiss. “Promise me you’ll be careful out there,” she said. “It’s not like those old shoes are going to give you any traction.”

“Yeah, the soles are a bit worn,” Glynn said. “There’s more mud out there than anything else, though. They’ll do for now.”

Hub pulled up in front of the house and Glynn gave Marve one more kiss before trotting out the door. The pair drove back out to Bluebird in relative silence until they passed the Arvel ambulance that was carrying Kirkie’s body. “We can hold four,” Hub said without prompting. “After that, we’ll have to use Arvel funeral homes.” He shook his head. “Pardon my language, preacher, but there’s gonna be hell to pay at the next county commissioner’s meeting. Those boys done messed up. There’s gonna be some lawsuits over this, you just wait and see.”

“How bad do you think it is?” Glynn said. 

Rain had started back up and Hub turned on the windshield wipers and let them clear the windshield a bit before answering. “There are 24 homesteads in what is officially considered the Bluebird community. I’ve only heard of three still standing. Normally, that wouldn’t mean much because everyone out here either has a basement or a storm cellar. From what folks are saying, though, the only ones who saw anything coming were those what were out in the fields and they barely had time to get in and grab their families before it hit. There’s a lot of old folks out here, folks that were born and raised out here before Oklahoma was even a state. They weren’t out in no field. Still, tornadoes are funny. There’s no logic to them. They don’t follow a straight path. You never know who’s going to get hit and who’s going to be spared.”

As they pulled up in front of the remnants of the store, the Sherrif walked over and waited for Hub to roll down the window in the driver’s door. “I don’t think we’re going to find anyone else here, Hub,” he said. “They were just a few minutes away from closing. Why don’t you drive down to the Steiner place, though? One of their kids ran up here and said the house collapsed on top of the basement. Everyone there’s alive but the boy said his dad was hurt. He may need to go to the hospital.”

Hub nodded and Glynn leaned across the seat to ask, “Any word on Florence Henry or Donnas Amekin?”

The Sherrif shook his head. “The only ones I can confirm are those that have been down here working. Once the sun is up we’ll be able to go out and check door-to-door, if we can find the doors.”

Glynn shifted back in his seat, waiting for Hub to pull away. The smell of diesel from the generators was overwhelming. His stomach wrenched, causing him to wonder how long he’d hold up under these conditions.

As the ambulance pulled up to the Steiner house, Glynn noticed that Jerry had moved to help down here. He walked over to the older pastor and put his hand on his shoulder. “How are you holding up?”

Jerry was carefully removing a large piece of siding and waited until it was safely extracted before replying. “This is killing me more than anything else, Glynn. These are my church members, my friends, and we’ll get Ernie out here in a minute, he’s been chatting the entire time, but they’ve lost everything. Ernie’s already questioning whether to rebuild or sell the land and move to Broken Bowl or someplace like that.”

Jerry paused and wiped the sweat from his forehead. “I have a feeling that when the sun comes up in a bit we’re going to be more shocked than we already are. Herb Michaels, over there on Route Four, says his barn took a direct hit, lost at least 30 cattle, his tractor, messed up his hay bailer, and a bunch of other stuff. Norman Lloyd, just down the road here a piece, says his pickup is missing, no idea where it’s gone. Only half his house is still standing. This is the death of Bluebird and it tears my heart out.”

Cheers went up as Ernie Steiner was pulled safely out of his basement. He gave his wife and kids a big hug, but it was clear that his right leg had been crushed. Glynn helped Hub maneuver the gurney over the debris and got the farmer strapped in for the ride to the hospital.

“Ya’ll start putting things in piles, what we can keep, what’s trash. Whichever pile is bigger likely determines what we do next,” Ernie instructed his wife, who gave him a tearful hug before they shut the ambulance door.

A couple of hours passed before Hub and Glynn could return with the ambulance. The hospital’s emergency room was inundated with people injured by the tornado and was struggling to keep up with everyone while running on generator power. The streets outside were now full of trucks from OG&E, trying to get the power restored. The hospital had priority over everything else in town, then the police station and fire department. 

When they finally returned to Bluebird, they were directed to yet another farmhouse. The farmer had died of a heart attack before the tornado had a chance to rip the roof off the house. His wife was completely distraught and insisted on riding in the ambulance with them back to the funeral home. Before they left, Glynn was able to confirm that Donnas Amekin was safe, her house only minimally damaged. She was one of the lucky ones, though. Jerry had been right, Bluebird was dead.

Work continued as the day passed. Power was eventually restored to Arvel, Adelbert, and most of the county by Saturday night. Glynn called each of the deacons and they all agreed that the Sunday morning service should go on as normal but that, once again, the evening service should be canceled so everyone could attend to recovery and repair efforts. A stop by the house allowed the pastor to change clothes yet again and give Marve and the kids a reassuring hug. 

By the time Hub was convinced the ambulance was no longer needed, seven people had been confirmed dead with two farmers still missing. Each had been out far in their fields and didn’t have time to get back home before the storm hit. 34 had been taken to the hospital in Arvel for treatment. Almost every home in the Bluebird community and those around it had some damage. Several homes were deemed unsafe, which sent their residents scrambling to find shelter. The high school gym, which had only lost some tar paper off its domed roof, was opened as an emergency shelter for those who didn’t have relatives in the area. The Red Cross provided blankets, sandwiches, juice, and coffee for both residents and workers. 

People from across the county had come to help not only with search and rescue but with clothes, tarps, lumber, fencing equipment, and help rounding up the cattle that were wandering from pasture to pasture, not sure exactly where to go. While this wasn’t the first tornado the county had survived, it was the worst in recent memory. 

Glynn noticed that the Sherrif and several other men never seemed to take a break. They would eat a quick sandwich when it was offered, gulp down a lukewarm cup of coffee, and keep going; their clothes caked in mud and clay, their faces streaked with sweat, grime, and sometimes blood, they were committed to not only finding and saving as many people as they could, they still kept an eye toward keeping everyone else safe. The Sherrif carefully confiscated any random weapons and ammunition that was found, marking its location should the owners come looking for them later. A rancher took charge of dogs and cats that were running stray, separated from their owners. Those that he wasn’t able to reunite he took back to crates in his barn with plenty of food and water until their owners could be found. Mailboxes were recovered and set back on posts. 

All rescue and recovery efforts were paused at 9:00 Sunday morning so everyone could go to church. Jerry had actively encouraged his own church members to join him at First Baptist in Adelbert and most of them had done so, which once again filled the sanctuary to the point that chairs were needed.

Glynn had prepared a pre-VBS sermon around Matthew 19:13-15.

3-15 Then some little children were brought to him, so that he could put his hands on them and pray for them. The disciples frowned on the parents’ action but Jesus said, “You must let little children come to me, and you must never stop them. The kingdom of Heaven belongs to little children like these!” Then he laid his hands on them and went on his way.

The New Testament in Modern English by J.B Phillips copyright © 1960, 1972 J. B. Phillips. Administered by The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England. 

The pastor considered the state of those listening to him that morning and adjusted his homily slightly. “This morning,” Glynn told them, “We are all children. We are children who have been frightened, children who are homeless and unsure of what happens next. We are children who are stunned by the ferociousness and aggressiveness of a storm that not only took away homes, and stores, and church buildings, but it took away people we loved, people who were important to us, people who cared about us. And like children, we sit here this morning needing to know that God still cares.

“Yes, God still cares. He looks at all the obstacles we face and says, ‘Don’t worry about all those things, come to me. And he provides us comfort, he provides us encouragement and then, perhaps most importantly, he moves on.

“Today is a day of comfort, encouragement, and peace. Tomorrow begins a period of teaching and learning. We welcome children, and adults, from Bluebird and anywhere else. This is a time where Jesus doesn’t say, ‘You’re too old.’ Rather, he says, ‘Here, have a cookie and a hug. Tell me what you need.’

“Then, we move on. We will bury the bodies of those we’ve lost, we’ll see to the injuries of those who were hurt, and we’ll face the decisions of whether to rebuild or relocate. There is a time to be embraced and there’s no limit on how many times we can come running back to Jesus for comfort. But there’s also time to continue doing what he set us here to do. We are not down. We are not out. We go on our way, tilling fields, rebuilding houses, repairing barns, herding cattle, and sharing God’s love with each other.”

Glynn kept the service short. He knew concerns were elsewhere and while everyone needed the break that going to church provided, they also needed to start putting their lives back together. There was no time to wallow and little time to mourn. 

Marve had already suggested inviting Jerry and Gladys to lunch and Glynn raised the stakes by taking everyone to a restaurant in Washataug thanks to an extra twenty dollars Hub had slipped him the night before. They tried keeping the conversation light but the tornado, the church building, and the cancer made for a combination of tragedy that was too large to ignore. Jerry was hoping the church could meet in the school cafeteria at least long enough to decide whether or not to rebuild, again questioning whether to tell them of his diagnosis. Would they still choose to rebuild and take on debt if they knew he wasn’t going to be there to lead them?

By the time they finished lunch, though, the skies were once again looking gray. More rain was moving in and with it, once again, the chance of storms. Jerry and Gladys thanked the Waterburys for their generosity and returned to Bluebird to help neighbors put giant blue tarps over holes in roofs, boarding up broken windows, and gathering belongings scattered across pastures. Glynn and Marve took the kids home for a nap and tried their best to relax while listening to the sound of thunder rumbling in the distance.

With the power back on across the county, Glynn was able to call and check on church members he hadn’t seen in the morning service, confirming that everyone was safe and had a secure place to spend the night. Not many of their members had been affected at all and none had experienced the severe destruction of those in Bluebird. The Sherrif was now instructing those who were not residents to stay away until Monday morning when better weather was forecasted. Looting wasn’t an issue but deepening ruts in the muddy roads were and the county wouldn’t be able to spread gravel until the next day. 

Glynn then called the hospital in Tulsa to check on Carol’s condition. Nothing had changed significantly over the week, he was told. He left a message for Edith to call him but the phone didn’t ring the rest of the evening. Everyone was tired, thankful the rain had moved through without incident and emotionally drained as they prepared to start the busiest month of the year.

Chapter 18

Chapter 18

Monday morning’s sunshine started the day hot and bright as though nothing had happened over the weekend. VBS began at 8:00 which meant teachers were at the church building by 7:00 which meant Glynn had to be at the church by 6:30. He didn’t mind, though Marve was less than thrilled with the prospect of getting both kids ready on her own. By 7:30 children were beginning to arrive and by 7:45 it was clear that they had underestimated turnout for this year. More supplies and more cookies would be needed. Reinforcements were called. Snack and recess began at 10:00 so there wasn’t much time to act. 

Despite the challenge, though, the day went off without any problems more significant than replacing the paper towels in the restrooms and mopping up a drink spill or two. After lunch, Glynn drove out to Bluebird where efficiency reigned as well. County crews had spread gravel on the roads as soon as it was daylight allowing trucks to deliver building materials where they were needed. Those in the area whose homes hadn’t been as adversely affected gathered at the old store to begin cleaning up. Deb and Kirkie had raised four children but none of them lived in the area and no one expected that they would want to come back and rebuild a store that struggled at times just to pay the utility bills. The mood was somber but determined. Even with the church building and the store gone, those who lived in Bluebird refused to give up. This was their home. They would survive.

A visit to the hospital in Arvel gave Glynn a better perspective on how many people had been hurt. Ernie Steiner’s leg was in traction, a couple of others were on oxygen and being watched carefully. Most broken bones had been set and the patients sent back home. There was, miraculously, no one with life-threatening injuries. 

Driving back home, Glynn was thankful that the sun was hot enough to require the use of air conditioning and even more thankful that his Impala had air conditioning. He considered the degree to which life here in Oklahoma was a bit like a rubber band with events and disasters pulling things down for a moment only to bounce back and level out the same as it had been before. Despite the rain and the storms, there were tractors in the fields, cattle in the pastures, and hay being baled. Any pain or distress was tamped down or outright ignored. There was work to be done and the only option was to get up and do it. 

By the end of opening assembly on Tuesday, Glynn realized that the well-oiled machine that was VBS didn’t need his presence as much as he had anticipated. He was able to sit in his office and study while teachers marshaled troops of small children between classrooms and bathrooms, cookies and recess, crafts and lessons. He was amused that with each delivery of cookies someone left a sample on his desk, always while he had stepped away for a moment. Everything about VBS was a serious business for the women of the church and he couldn’t help wondering why this effort and efficiency weren’t utilized more effectively throughout the year in other areas of ministry.

Thursday was the only time the preacher was tasked with speaking to each class. The VBS materials called for him to deliver an “age-appropriate presentation of the gospel with an opportunity for children to respond.” This was the point of decision that determined whether the week was ultimately a success. 

Glynn was careful about leaning too hard on children to “get saved.” He was unconvinced than a child under the age of ten understood the concepts of sin and salvation well enough to make a genuine decision. He knew all too well that these childhood conversions too often led to a life of insincere Christianity that looked at salvation more as an insurance policy in the event hell turned out to be a real place. Instead, he focused on making sure that younger children weren’t frightened by the gruesome details of eternal damnation and only offered a moment of repentance to the fifth and sixth-grade classes. Predictably, when one child responded, half a dozen others did as well. Glynn would meet privately with the child and their parents to determine whether the decision was sincere but even with those that seemed genuine he had his doubts whether they all knew anything beyond the ritual. 

After making his rounds, Glynn returned to his office. There sat a plate of cookies and a note from Marve that read, “We’re having a guest for lunch. Please be on time.” The note piqued the pastor’s curiosity. Marve was typically direct in her communication so the fact that she hadn’t specifically mentioned who was coming to lunch had him mildly curious. At the same time, this was lunch so whoever it was and whatever the reason might be couldn’t be overly serious. He finished out the morning, oversaw the children being picked up by their parents, and made it home before anyone had sat down at the table.

Glynn was only mildly surprised that Claire Hiddleman was their lunch guest. She had babysat for the couple twice now and Lita was especially fond of her. Friday night’s adventure to the Hiddleman’s storm shelter had strengthened that bond and when the pastor arrived she was sitting cross-legged in the living room floor and Lita carried on about a doll and Hayden tried running over her with one of his trucks. Claire seemed to be a fairly typical teenager, bright, intelligent, anxious to find ways to be helpful, and occasionally impetuous. Her long, strawberry-blonde hair flowed straight down her back, and the large round-framed glasses on her face gave her lanky body an attractive bookwormish appearance. Everyone in town knew Claire and Glynn didn’t know of anyone who didn’t like her. 

Since they had a guest for lunch, Marve broke out the canned tomato soup to go with their typical deli-meat sandwiches. The kids chattered at Claire through the entire meal and would have happily skipped nap time had they been given the option. Glynn jumped in and cleared the table while Marve and Claire did their best to get the kids settled quietly in the bedroom, if not napping, at least playing quietly.

Glynn still needed to visit the hospital in Washataug this afternoon and was wanting to check in with Jerry whose phone was still not working after the storm. He had some time, though and was sitting in the recliner in the living room reading the newspaper with Marve and Claire came in and sat on the sofa. Claire was Marve’s classroom assistant in VBS and they were chatting about the difficulty of trying to wrap up the week’s unit and the challenges of having three times as many students as had been planned. 

“As crowded as it is, I’ve really enjoyed the week,” Claire told Marve. “I’ve asked Mrs. Lyles if I can be a counselor for Junior Camp. She said I could if we have enough room. You guys are all going, right?”

Glynn was careful to keep his nose buried in the newspaper. He knew this was a hot point of contention for Marve, who didn’t appreciate being “told” that she had to do anything. He had only convinced her to participate because of Joanne’s health issues.

Marve knew when to put on a good public face, though, and answered Claire’s question with a smile. “Yes, kids and all. I know Lita would love to have you there. I don’t think the girls’ side is full yet, is it, Glynn?”

“Not as of this morning,” Glynn said from behind the newspaper. “And Joanne told me there are more bunks in the attic if we need them. We can fit 20 on each side. I think we’ll have room for whoever wants to go.”

“That would be so fun!” Claire said as she bounced in place on the sofa. “This week has been such a great experience. It’s really helping me narrow my focus as I think about starting to apply for college this fall.”

“Is it that time for you already?” Marve asked. “I didn’t think that happened until your Senior year.”

“They want us to start making campus visits this fall,” Claire answered. “I’m looking at OU, of course. That’s where Daddy wants me to go since both he and Mom went there. I’m not convinced that’s necessarily the place for me, though.”

Marve crossed her legs and leaned forward. She could be just as good a counselor as Glynn when she didn’t feel pressured into doing so. She had enjoyed Claire’s excited and willing spirit over the week and was glad to have someone to mentor. “What are you wanting to study?” Marve inquired. “Are you looking at education?”

Claire shook her head. “I don’t think so, though Mom’s trying hard to change my mind. The state needs more teachers, I get that, but I’m not sure that’s where I can do the most good. That’s why I’m not sure about OU. I’m wanting to study religion, but they don’t offer it as a major and they don’t admit women into their religious studies program.”

Glynn folded the newspaper and set it to the side. He wasn’t going to say anything if he wasn’t invited into the conversation, but the topic was one he couldn’t ignore.

Marve glanced over at her husband, giving him a reassuring look to let him know she could handle the matter. “Religion in general or something more narrow?” she asked Claire.

“I guess general for now,” the teenager answered. “I mean, there’s a lot there to study, I know that, and it’s not like we get a lot of exposure to anything but Christianity around here, but, you know, with the whole women’s liberation movement and everything…” She paused, searching for the best way to explain what she was thinking. “Like, none of that New York or California stuff really matters here in Oklahoma, you know? Women here really only have two options, either they teach or they stay home and help with the kids and the farm. There’s nothing here for us to strike against or protest. But I can’t help thinking, especially after this week’s unit, about how important women were to Jesus’ ministry, and, you know, look at who ran VBS this week!” She stopped and looked at Glynn. “No offense, Reverend Waterbury, I don’t mean you didn’t do anything.”

Glynn smiled. “No, you’re right. I’ve hardly had to lift a finger this week and they keep bringing me cookies!”

Claire giggled as Marve rolled her eyes and shook her head at Glynn’s response. Claire continued. “Anyway, I’m thinking that one way rural women can expand their place in society is through the church, being to the church kind of what Mary and Martha were to Jesus and his disciples. I think there’s a place in ministry for women, maybe not preaching, but doing other things.”

“I think that’s a wonderful idea,” Marve said. “You wouldn’t need a degree in religion to do that, though, would you?”

Claire shrugged. “I don’t know if I need a degree for anything. Mom and Dad both would have my head if I told them I wasn’t going to college, though. Plus, I think educating ourselves on matters that have traditionally been left to men is probably a good idea.” She stopped again and looked at Glynn. “No offense, Reverend Waterbury, but it seems that men have kept religious instruction to themselves over the centuries as a way to control women. I think the more we know, the better we understand, the more deeply we can apply what we believe to what we are doing.”

“The only part of that I would challenge is that I don’t think men have ever controlled women as much as they like to think they do,” Glynn said with a bit of a laugh that had Marve rolling her eyes again. “I’m all for women receiving all the education they can and I’m sorry that you’re running into barriers. My perspective is that women can do anything in the church that doesn’t require ordination.”

Claire turned to face Glynn more directly. “Really? I was wondering about that. I know Lutherans and Presbyterians have ordained women and the encyclopedia we have says the first women ordained in the United States was a Free Will Baptist all the way back in the 1800s somewhere in New England. Why do Southern Baptists not ordain women?”

Glynn smiled and chuckled a bit until he saw the stern look on Marve’s face. Regaining his pastoral composure, he said, “The primary opposition is based on scripture. In 1 Timothy chapter 3, Paul tells the young Timothy, who was likely no older than you are, that those who would lead, the word is most often translated as Bishop, must, among other things, be the husband of only one wife, because polygamy was a thing in the first century, and he must have control of his own household. A lot of people have translated and mistranslated that passage in many ways, but the requirement for a wife is the strong point in arguing against women in ordained positions.”

“What about priests?” Claire asked. “They’re not married at all. That seems to be a contradiction.”

“There are a number of differences in the way the Catholic church and Southern Baptists interpret scripture,” Glynn said, shifting in his seat to find a more serious position. “They would say that priests are married to the Church, based on Paul’s argument for why he remained single. The same holds true of nuns, though, personally, I’ve never really seen the biblical justification for that one.”

Claire sat back on the couch and sighed. “This all seems so silly. If we’re all reading the same Bible, why can’t we agree on what it means?”

“Because we’re not all reading the same Bible,” Marve answered, inserting herself back into the conversation. “There have been hundreds of translations over the years as our understanding of the original languages has changed.”

“And there are still a lot of questions as to whether any of those translations are really correct,” Glynn added. “I agree, it can be quite confusing.”

“Is that why you don’t use the King James version when you’re preaching?” Claire asked.

“One of them,” Glynn said. “The King James Bible is a translation of a translation, so it’s far from being reliable. Plus, no one talks like that anymore. Just the language being used causes people to assume the wrong thing.”

Claire sat back up and looked at Marve. “Most of the schools that accept women in religious studies are back East. Do you think I’d be crazy to go there?”

“I think you’d be crazy to not at least consider all your options,” Marve said. “How things look from a distance and how they really are seldom match up the way we want. Going that far from home would be kind of like moving out on your own. You have to think whether you’re ready for that.”

The young woman stood and stretched. “Yeah, not being able to come home on weekends would be a thing. I’m just not satisfied with locking into a traditional role of any kind, you know? I want to shake up the world, make a difference, see things change.” She paused, looking out the front window at the dust blowing over the ball diamond across the street. “I promised mom I’d go through a new set of books this afternoon, though. I should probably get home and help with that. See you guys tomorrow morning!” Her ineffable cheerfulness popped back in as Claire waved and skipped out the back door toward her home.

“That was an unexpectedly interesting conversation,” Glynn said as he picked up the newspaper again.

“She’s a bright girl,” Marve said. “I think she’s asked more questions this week than the kids have.”

“What do you think will happen?” Glynn asked.

Marve stretched out on the couch and closed her eyes. “Probably the same thing that happens with every starry-eyed girl who wants to change the world. She’ll meet a boy, fall in love, and totally abandon her ambition in search of a fantasy.”

Glynn chuckled from behind his newspaper. “What, I’m not everything you dreamed I’d be?”

“Let’s just say I never thought I’d be stuck in Oklahoma living in a four-room house with no air conditioning. This is a far cry from Prince Charming’s castle,” Marve said, her voice trailing off.

Glynn stood up from the recliner then leaned down to give his wife a kiss. “There you go, Sleeping Beauty. The magical kiss of life.”

Marve half-heartedly swatted at him. “Don’t you have a hospital to visit or something?”

“On my way out now,” he answered. He would have rather stayed home and taken a nap but there was too much still to do before being at camp the next week. 

As Glynn walked to the car he couldn’t help thinking about Marve’s comment, “… abandon her ambition in search of a fantasy.” He had to admit that he didn’t really know what ambition Marve might have had before they met. They had both finished college when they were introduced, she was teaching second grade, and he was working at the plant. Any ambition either of them had seemed to have disappeared a long time ago.