In which Claire and Trystene conspire
As Claire left the hospital, she checked her watch – lunch would be late and Rex would be crossing his legs, but she ran home and made a quick sandwich, enjoying one of Emma’s brownies. She thought about Gladys and Bill, still a bit amazed by them. She headed back to the office and went straight to Trystene’s desk.
“Trystene, I’m not sure if you’re in the middle of something but I’d like to talk with you today if you have some time.”
“Um, sure. Let me just send this email. Your office or my desk?”
“Why don’t you come in to my office.”
Claire had no idea that Trystene immediately thought she was going to get fired. Trystene not only sent the email, she also straightened up her desk, cleared out the spam file, took a few tissues, and readied herself for the bad news. In she went.
“Claire, am I about to be fired?”
“Good Lord, no, Trys- what on earth would make you think that?”
“You just seem real serious and not smiley kind Claire. But as long as I’m not about to get fired, I’m okay.”
“Actually, I wanted your advice about something. I’ve decided to tell the congregation about the Saints.”
“Whoa. That’s – I mean – wow. Really?”
Claire smiled. “Really.”
“But don’t you have to get permission from somebody? The Saints? Or the board? Or Bill Hill or somebody?”
“Actually, no, I don’t think so. As far as I’m concerned, the Saints are using this space without our permission so I think that gives me the right to talk about them without their permission. And once the board knows, there’s no way that secret will stay hidden. I just came from visiting Bill and Gladys, and they know and they say to let the secret out.”
“Wow. Okay. How are they?”
“They’re amazing and realistic and heartbroken. Bill said if he was still here for Easter it would be a miracle. I can’t even think about it most of the time, it makes me so sad.”
“Dang. I hate that part of working at a church. You know, the dying and the funerals and the hope. Hate it.”
“If it’s any consolation, I hate it too.”
“A little. So if you’ve made your decision, what on earth do you need me for? You’re the one who knows all the church stuff. And the Saints stuff, for that matter.”
“What I need is common sense from someone who’s a bit on the outside of all of this. One of the things I appreciate most about you is your level-headedness, and the natural kindness of your heart, and your willingness to call a spade a spade.”
“OK. I can do that. What’s your plan so far?”
“Well, I thought if I called a special board meeting people would worry or start to suspect something was up and the news would spread through the congregation like wildfire. We have a board meeting in a few weeks, and right now it looks like we don’t have too much business to do, so I thought I’d say something then. And I’d frame it as a decision that I have made, not something I’m asking permission to do. Because once they know, the proverbial cat is out of that proverbial bag.”
“I’m with you so far. Good thinking. Except –wait – is Alice on the board? Won’t she be, um, upset?”
“Alice already knows that I plan to let the secret out. She’s not happy about it but she knows I mean it. And I would do the courtesy of letting her know I was telling the board, so she could decide if she wanted to not come that night or come and help me tell the story.”
“Ok, good, go on. What’s the plan for the congregation?”
“I had a crazy idea about that. I think I’ll tell them on Easter.”
“Really? Easter? I mean, won’t that take away a little from, you know, the empty tomb and all that?”
“I thought about that, I really did. Here’s my thinking, and again, be honest with me. This Lent we’ve been talking about facing the truth in our lives and world, the “strong soap of Your truth” from the Ash Wednesday prayer. People have been great about taking that on as a practice during Lent, and I’ve had a few amazing conversations with people, including one today with the Hills. What if I framed it as Easter being God’s great truth telling about love and life eternal, and the call to tell the truth, and an amazing true story to tell about St. Rahab’s. Too much? Have I lost my mind? Or at least my senses?”
“Man, Claire, I don’t know. I don’t know. There are a lot of visitors on Easter and word will get out into the community. I don’t know if the church or the Saints would be prepared for that. I do have an idea, but I don’t know if you’ll like it.”
“I think we should get Bill Carr in here and run it by him. He’s a Saint and he knows this church and he knows the community. Him and I have been getting along a whole lot better since our little talk. I think I trust him, funnily enough. He’s got a good head on his shoulders too. Should I ask him to come up?
Bill Carr joined the women, coming into the office and grinning ear to ear.
“Well, Claire, I must say you have certainly livened things up around here. Alice came and found me and gave me a penny or two for her thoughts, which were mighty and wide ranging. Seems like you’re going to let our little secret out.”
“Yes, Bill, I am, and Trystene and I were just talking about my roll-out plan. She thought you might have some ideas, or at least an opinion about it. Have a seat.”
Claire told him her plan. When she got to the part about telling the secret to the Easter congregation, Bill’s grin widened even more.
“Bill, I have to say, this is not the reaction I was expecting.”
“Well, yes, I can see that. You know a little bit about how the Saints saved my life and how important I think out work is, but really, I’ve never been all that comfortable with the clandestine nature of our work. I hated messing up the bulletins, even though it was fun. And I understand why in the beginning they needed to keep the work secret, fear of outsiders being what it was in the twenties and in the war years, but things are different now. There’s the internet.
“I think Easter is as good a time as any to share the news. I mean, if the Saints aren’t good news, I don’t know what is. Plus you then get to say it’s all good news and not something we need to be ashamed of.”
“Thanks, Bill. I appreciate your thoughts. But there’s one person I need to convince of my plan.”
And all three said together, “Alice.”