The Last Hard-Headed Fool
Reverend Fred looked out from his pulpit at his new family and smiled. The smile contained not joy, nor excitement. The smile was one of comfort. He now knew the reason for everything that had happened in his life.
“We all come from different backgrounds,” Fred said. “We all took different roads to get here. But God brought us here for a purpose. We each have our roles and our individual journeys have trained us for those roles.” He noticed a few confused looks from his congregation.
“What? You think we’ve won? Yes, the taste of victory is still on our tongues… but you can wash that out of your mouths right now, because the war has just begun, my friends. Sure, we can celebrate new love, changed hearts and changed directions. We can even celebrate that Zachary is in prison. But let us not lose our focus. Let us not avert our eyes from the Lord. For He alone is our path to our ultimate goal, that is Heaven.
“Now, I realize that some of you still do not believe. You trust with your heart of hearts that there are things which you cannot see and, yes, that is faith. But you don’t think faeries and satyrs created the universe, do you? No offense to those present.”
“None taken,” Samal said. Regan said it, too, but she was not yet ready to make herself visible to everyone, so, only the members of the Circle heard it.
“No one has ever accused me of delivering a short and sweet sermon. I do, however, like a quick, powerful, passionate one from time to time. So, I will end it with this thought—in all your travels, all your experiences… some more vast than others, you have to agree that there are things that are more powerful than yourselves. Would it be that difficult? Would it not behoove you to take your faith one step further? Stretch it. Stretch it until you think it’s going to snap. I promise you, my friends… and when I make this promise, it’s not really me making it.” He pointed up both with his fingers and his eyebrows. “I promise… He will not let it break.”
Most of the large group began to clap. The rest slowly joined.
“Now, you can come up here. Pray if you are moved to. I’ll pray with you. But I’m not going to thump your head with the Bible and I’m not going to cram it down your throat.”
Marc, Stew, Layla, Alex, Marc’s parents, stew’s parents, Becca, Samal walked to the front, knelt down in front of the altar and prayed. Goose trotted up behind Stew and lay down on the back of his legs. They were soon surrounded by those members of New Bergen Baptist who were now with them and Fred’s followers.
“Well, I’m not going to be the last, hard-headed fool standing,” Tófa said before walking over and joining the others.
“Where my wife goes,” Brandr said, “I follow.” And he, too, walked to the altar and knelt, even though he couldn’t get to his Tófa to kneel beside her.
“You know,” Marie said, turning to Wiz, “you can’t deny his logic. Hell… even the satyr is down there praying.”
“Let’s go,” Wiz took Marie’s hand. “Let’s go,” he said with tears in his eyes.
“You’re crying? Why are you crying?”
“You think I was the last one standing because I’m a hard-headed fool. No. I’m still standing because I wanted to see this. Oh, I’m still a hard-headed fool, but a fool in love with you. And not a fool who won’t practice what he preaches. It was strange hearing something so similar to what I’ve been telling you, Stew, his parents… strange to hear it like I’ve never heard before. And it’s beautiful. That’s why I’m still standing.” Wiz let out a big sigh, “Okay, come on.” He led Marie and as they knelt, he held her hand, squeezing it gently.
“Lord,” Wiz said, is mouth dry. Once he cleared his throat, he continued, “each one of us who kneels today... we lay our burdens at your feet…”
As the group of former strangers prayed, the congregation sat in awe and wonder. Fred smiled and thought about the gloriousness of the moment. Hair stood up on the back of his neck and his arms grew gooseflesh. He could feel a presence there was only one explanation for. “God, please bless all of us hard-headed fools.”