The parson was sitting on the banks of the Coosawatte River, a fishing pole in his hand - the old fashion fishing pole constructed of a bamboo shoot with a line supporting a hook with a red wriggler impaled and a plastic cork just two feet from the end of the line.
The cork floated on the water. The parson dozed on the bank. The object was not, necessarily, to catch a fish (although one caught would be an evening meal). The object was to free himself from the parish, to have a day of solitude.
Penny, Charlie Brown’s widow, slept contentedly by his side, eyes closed, but tail wagging whenever the parson petted her.
Penny, suddenly, stood up. She turned toward the country road, about fifty yards from the parson’s fishing spot. Her nose twitched as she sampled the smells floating on the air. She visibly relaxed, sat beside the parson and stared up the path toward the road.
Ginny, Virginia, was her proper name, came down the path with another next to her. Ginny was a junior in high school. She came to the parson’s church occasionally on Sunday. But she was often at the church when Ms. Parson’s soup kitchen was open to help the parson distribute the meals to the homebound.
“Parson,” said Ginny, “I was just checking. I saw your car on the side of the road and wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“I’m doing good,” said the parson. “But the fish don’t seem to like me today.”
“Oh, excuse me,” said Ginny, “this is my friend Rebecca. She’s visited with me at the church a couple of times.”
The parson greeted Rebecca, remembering her sitting in the back pew of the church occasionally with Ginny.
Ginny and Rebecca sat down on the bank with the parson. The parson took the opportunity to ask, “Ginny, where do you go to church?”
She replied, “I go to your church, of course.”
The parson pondered. Ginny, although she often helped the parson deliver the meals to the homebound, attended the church maybe once a quarter. The parson asked, “You don’t have a church where you are a member?”
“No, Parson, I don’t,” she said. “Your church is my church.”
“Have you ever thought about joining, officially?” asked the parson.
“No, not really. I like coming to the worship. I really get a good feeling when we take the food to those people and I get a chance to talk with them. I mean, I’m already part of the church, aren’t I?”
The parson looked away and concentrated on the red and white plastic cork attached to the line. Eventually, he said, “You know, you are part of the church. And we’re blessed to have you.”
They talked a bit more and then Ginny and her friend, Rebecca, bid farewell. The parson looked at Penny and said, “You know, dog, I think the church is changing more profoundly than I’d realized.”