Emily really didn’t care much for the new girl at the women’s Thursday night group meeting, in fact she saw very little in her that she liked at all. She just did not fit in , and it wasn’t just her clothes, as if jeans and a sweater were the appropriate attire for a house of worship, but it was also her attitude, she was always so bubbly and happy, her demeanor was nothing like the other eight women that showed up every Thursday evening, or of those that maintained a membership in the church.
“Thank you, Janet, that was wonderful, I never knew there was so much wisdom in the little Book of James, what will we be studying next week?” There she went again, miss prissy of the walk, couldn’t she just sit there and mind her business like she was supposed to, and why would she care what Book they were supposedly going to start next week, what’s she going to do, go home and study it first, like that’s ever happened. Some of the women gave each other a look that was a cross between “You have got to be kidding me” and “Here we go again.”
“Sammy please, all of my friends call me Sammy,” what woman in her right mind would want to be called Sammy. She had been attending the women’s Thursday night group for three weeks now, and had begun to show up at the ninety-five year old well established church with her husband and young child that “Fidgets way too much,” Emily had said to her husband, at about the same time. The church had seen people like them come and go throughout the decades, young people who thought that church was supposed to be fun, spiritual and uplifting, and this young couple was no different.
“She sings so loud, the next thing you know she’ll be bringing a microphone to the service next week.” Emily and three of the other matrons of the church had stood in the far back corner of the large chapel area last Sunday and cast venomous glances at the young couple who were introducing themselves to the pastor. “I heard her say that she wants that little fidgeting thing to sit with them during the morning service.” “Well, I can tell you right now that that is not going to happen, the little rug rat can go back in the nursery with the rest of them where he belongs, that’s what we pay those people for.”
If they were snakes you could have heard them hissing, and when any of these eight women were gathered together anywhere in the building on Sunday morning, everyone knew one of three things, either someone had died, someone was not welcomed, or someone was going to die, not literally of course, but these women could make anyone feel unwelcomed, whether it was new people in the church that they took a disliking to, or a pastor who would not toe the line, it had happened before, and it would happen again. It was their church, and anyone who attended it for any length of time knew this for a fact, each member giving them a wide berth and made very sure to smile and give the appropriate pleasantries each time they crossed their paths, always trying to stay in their good graces.
“Samantha, where did you say you were from again?” Emily knew full well where the young couple with the snotty nosed little noise maker were from, she had made her husband dig up everything that could be found on them, and it had been more than she had hoped for. Everyone at the Thursday night meeting knew everything that they needed to know about this new attendee, and all of them had come to the same conclusion, she was not and never would be welcomed. The problem was though, you could not just tell her so, that would not be the Christian thing to do, but they had begun to devise a plan amongst themselves on how to go about letting her know that she was not welcome at their Thursday night get togethers, or at their church.
This had been the driest, most boring three weeks in Emily’s life, actually going thru a Book of the Bible, she could not believe that she had let Janet talk her into it. “Maybe she’ll get bored and leave, what would you suggest, we just continue to talk about the things we normally discuss, business as usual, do you want that news spread around the church?” The Thursday night meetings were meant for the eight of them, there were at one time ten, but people get older and pass on, nothing you could do about that, so it had been just the eight of them for many years now and that was just fine with them. The only reason they even carried their Bibles into the side door of the church on these evenings was so that the pretense could be continued, and that was how this “Sammy” had found out about their meetings, meetings that were for the betterment of the church, whether or not everyone could see that, you simply just had to keep the riff-raff out and make sure that everything ran as it should.
Samantha had been out for a walk exploring her new community after her husband had graciously said he would take care of the baby for a couple of hours while she got some ‘me’ time in, when she saw four of them walking into the church. “Oh, a women’s Bible study, I was hoping there would be one at this church, let me call my husband and I’ll come in and join you!” “What was I supposed to do, tell her it’s a private study and she wasn’t welcome?”
The three women had stood there last Sunday and stared intently at little miss prissy and her so-called fabulous husband, the little rug rat squirming in her arms, drool running down his chin. One well timed appropriate glance from them towards the pastor and he excused himself from the presence of the young couple hurriedly and with a downward look at the floor, he knew that they wouldn’t be around much longer, he had been here long enough to know who ran the church.
“Yes, it was a small town, but we just felt like it was time to move one and try someplace new, get a new start someplace else.” The kindly smile started to leave Samantha’s face on that Thursday night, her shoulders began to droop, and tears started to well up in her eyes. It had been over two years and she almost had come to grips with it, she would never be able to forget it of course, but her new loving and caring husband had helped her to realize that some people can change, if they have the right person to help them. Their new healthy baby had been a blessing on top of a blessing and life really did seem like something that she wanted to live now.
“It must have just been terrible, Samantha, they say your father embezzled nearly all of the towns money, and then your own mother shooting him dead before killing herself, I just can’t imagine.” Emily was just getting started when the others began to chime in. “Yes, I understand it was quite a scene, didn’t I hear that your brother shot himself when he heard the news?” “No, no, get it right Sophia, it was her sister that hung herself in her bedroom, isn’t that right Samantha?” “Yes, yes, it was her sister my dear, and if I heard it correctly, didn’t the police finally find you at some party half naked and passed out on the floor from drugs and drinking?” My oh my, I can see why you would want to leave such a horrible little town, but don’t you worry dear, I’m sure everyone at the church will understand once they hear the whole story, won’t they girls?”
The smiles on their faces turned to sneers as the young woman excused herself between the sobs coming from deep inside of her as she ran towards the door, never to set foot inside the church again. “I want to talk about this new associate pastor next week, there’s just something about him that I don’t like.” “Yes, yes we know that, but first we’re going to do something about that carpet in the entry way, if those buffoons on the finance committee think that were going to use that money to buy all those ridiculous Bibles to send to those missionaries, they’ve got another thing coming.”
Lights were turned off, doors were locked and “See you next Sunday” could be heard up and down the block as the women headed for their separate cars, smiles and waves from those sitting on their porches on this nice summer evening greeted them as they pulled away into the night.