The parson arrived at the church for his daily visit. His study was not at home, but each day he headed to the church. Other than Sunday there were only two reasons he visited the church. The lesser of the two was to pick up the mail, discard the junk, and place particular pieces in the boxes set aside for different church officers or volunteers. The major of the two was to feed Iglesia, the church cat. And Iglesia was particular about this chore. If the parson arrived at 11:30 a.m., he was allowed to pick her up and pet her. Failure to arrive later than that would result in Iglesia sitting off at a distance denying any exchange of affection.
As the parson pulled up to the mailbox he noticed a car in the church parking lot. It was not an unusual thing. People often used the church as a rendezvous point. He pulled up to the front of the building after retrieving the mail at the street. Being on time, Iglesia bounded up the steps beside him. The parson settled himself on the porch’s bench seat. The church cat promptly jumped into his lap, turned over on her back and rewarded him with the privilege of rubbing her belly and after a few moments turning over to allow another privilege of scratching her back. Having allowed the parson his moments, she jumped from his lap and loudly meowed. The parson understood. He walked to the corner of the porch and opened the sealed containers to retrieve some food and water, which he then put into her bowls. Having achieved her goals, Iglesia then dismissed the parson until the next day and began to savor her meal.
The parson smiled. He inserted the key into the church door and entered the vestibule. As he was about to step into the sanctuary, something made him peer through the small window in the door.
She was in the second pew from the altar on the left. Her hands were folded together on the top of the pew in front of her. The parson stood transfixed. For weeks she’d been coming to the parson to discuss her problems. She didn’t have a church home. She’d never attended church. The parson had not pushed her about that. The counseling had been hard for her. Facing demons is a scary thing.
The parson put his hand on the door and was about to open it. Iglesia meowed on the porch. The parson paused. Something jumped inside him. He didn’t open the door. He turned and walked out. Iglesia arched her back inviting him to scratch once more, perhaps a thank you for the food.
The parson scratched her, rose, picked up the mail he’d left on the bench, turned to look at the door. The parson pondered a moment. How did she get into the church? She wasn’t a member. She didn’t attend any church. She had told the parson she wasn’t a Christian.
“Did you let her in?” the parson asked Iglesia. She rubbed against his leg, bounded up onto the wall that bordered the porch and then jumped into the shrubs to disappear until 11:30 a.m. tomorrow.
The parson reached for the car door, paused, turned around and headed up the steps again. He paused halfway. He turned to walk back to the car and drive home realizing she’d found a much better counselor.