Updated: May 11
The Heir Comes Home-Part 4 (Part 3)
by Sandy Kay Slawson
“Kyrk, for goodness’ sake, wait for me. I can’t keep step with your long stride,” Kathleen said as she pulled on the crook of Kyrk’s arm.
With a huff, Kyrk slowed to match his sister’s slower pace. “You’ve made us late for services already. Why did you wear such impractical shoes?”
“Because I’ve not seen these people in two years, and wanted to look my best.”
“With the time you spent on your hair and outfit, it’s doubtful anyone will notice your shoes,” Kyrk said with a chuckle.
“Maybe not the men, but the women will, I assure you,” Kathleen said.
“Ah, they’re singing. Let’s see if we can sneak into a back pew without notice.” Kyrk opened the door and the strains of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” burst through the doors as if the church could not hold such glorious praises. Kyrk allowed Kathleen to enter first and then searched for space on the pews in the rear of the sanctuary. However, there were no open spaces except for several rows closer to the front. Kyrk hid his irritation and waved Kathleen to lead the way.
The row Kathleen chose held a family of four, and then a woman who stood at the end of the pew separate from them. When Kathleen stopped beside the woman, she scooted closer to the family and made enough room for the two of them. Why Kathleen didn’t go ahead to a less crowded pew, Kyrk did not fathom.
The next song, “All Creatures of Our God and King,” began and Kyrk found himself mesmerized by the voice of the woman beside Kathleen. He’d never heard a more beautiful sound, even by the women at the opera house back east. When Kathleen elbowed him and nodded at the hymnal, he tried to focus on the page, but the words blurred. The unique quality of her tone drew his attention, and he couldn’t read a word. When the music ended, he peeked around Kathleen to see to whom the voice belonged, but the woman’s bonnet hid her face from view. Kathleen glowered at him with a puzzled expression. Kyrk swiveled attention onto the preacher, but embarrassed heat rose from his neck to his ears, and he hoped Kathleen didn’t notice.
“Let us pray. Almighty God, Lord of all the earth, speak to us this day through the preaching of your Holy Word. May we worship You with humble and repentant hearts in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. We thank You and ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.” The pastor finished his prayer, and the congregation took their seats.
Kyrk hadn’t expected the familiar old pastor to still be behind the pulpit, but there he stood, stooped and frail. The power of the message came not from his aged timbre, but from the Word of God itself. The preacher where they’d attended before their return home had never preached with this type of passion. Kyrk realized the lukewarm sermons he’d listened to hadn’t inspired him to seek the Lord and live for Him the way this one did after but a few minutes. Soon the memory of the angel voice faded, and Kyrk’s sins lay bare before him.
He'd strived to be ranked highest in his studies, in athletics, in the professors’ estimations, and to make Da proud of him. But had he pleased the Lord? No, he realized, because he’d done it for his own glory and not for God’s. Help me, Lord, to please You. Forgive me for my pride.
By the time the sermon ended, Kyrk possessed a renewed outlook on the inheritance his Da left him. Instead of a burden, the mercantile had the potential to become a place where Kyrk might glorify God through service to the community. He’d strive to make the mercantile the best it could be, not for pride’s sake, but as a good steward of the blessings he’d received.
“Kyrk Stewart, my… my, you’ve grown into a man since I last saw you. It’s good to see you and your sister home again, although I am truly sorry about your father’s passing. He’s been missed. Thank the Lord for Miss Waters and her effort to keep the mercantile open. I’m sure you are thankful for her hard work on your behalf. The townspeople have sure been relieved. After your father’s death, we didn’t relish the idea of traveling miles and miles away to find supplies. The poor young woman mourned something awful for him, though. She’s lost so much, but still gives and gives to others. You must be pleased to have a woman like her in your employ,” the preacher said as he placed one arthritic hand on Kyrk's shoulder and shook hands with the other while they stood together at the rear of the church.
Kyrk mumbled a guilty, “Yes, Pastor. It’s nice to be home,” then moved on to allow the next person in line their turn. Before he made it ten feet from the door, three other acquaintances from his past stopped him with condolences about Da and praises for Miss Waters. By the time he spotted his sister in a cluster of women, which included the angel, he burned with shame at the way he’d treated Miss Waters when they’d first met. The apology offered that morning seemed most insufficient, and her refusal to even eat with him corroborated that sense of failure.
Kyrk sauntered to Kathleen’s side and tried to push Miss Waters from his mind. The women spread to a give him room, and he nodded his thanks at the group. Some of the women had been girls from his childhood, one younger, two older, one of an age with him and Kathleen, two other women he didn’t recognize, and the angel had her back turned as she spoke with a young girl. When the girl raced off, the angel reentered the group with a bright smile. Miss Waters.
“You—” Had she been this lovely the whole time? How had he not noticed? And... her voice... She's the angel? Kyrk's brain transformed into mush.
“Hello, Mr. Stewart,” Miss Waters said.
Kyrk hated that her smile faded, and a guarded expression replaced the bright one. He bowed out of the circle. As he strode away, the knowledge he’d been rude once more to leave without greeting Miss Waters in return made him long to kick something. An old friend called to Kyrk, joined him, and soon Kyrk heard about the man's every woe. Kyrk’s gaze wandered to Miss Waters time and time again.
The women dispersed, and Miss Waters moved towards a copse of trees to the side of the church where a fellow waited. As she spoke with him, Kyrk’s first suspicion that it might be a courtship faded when they showed no signs of an intimate exchange. Then, when she spun around and he saw her countenance, Kyrk wanted to pummel the man. Her skin had grown pale, and despite the distance Kyrk didn't miss her obvious distress.
Miss Waters left soon after, and Kyrk seethed with anger and questions. On their return to the boarding house, Kyrk admitted he deserved the ire more than anyone. Miss Waters, loved by the community if their commendations meant anything, still had no protection if trouble came to her door. Yet he’d treated the woman with rudeness and suspicion for no reason. No good reason. If she needed help, she’d not come to him. Well, I intend to change that.
To Be Continued...
May you enjoy this Easter season as you reflect on the amazing love, grace, and mercy shown to us through the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the Lord God bless each of you and your families with FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE in Jesus' Name.