Chapter Two – Strangers

The Funeral ended with the Altar being moved and the body of Philomena placed underneath it.  The altar was moved back to close the burial place of this saint.  Lemach had taken some hair and pieces of clothing and a small microchip from her handheld device, which he found shattered next to her, from Philomena’s body as relics of the saint.  After the Mass was over he invited all the believers to come up and take the clothing and hair with them for their journey.  That through the intercession and prayers of saint Philomena they would receive the help they needed for their journey.

A man and a woman, strangers in the crowd of believers, had come into the church at the start of the funeral.  Now they were walking at the end of the procession line compelled to be part of this gathering as well.  They were at the end of the line of believers, but no one had seen them before, for many of them shot quick questioning glances at them.

They approach Lemach and he looks at both of them and gives the woman the chip, “a relic from our Saint that will aid you.” the woman accepts the relic as they bow and move to the last pew.

After mass was over Lemach instructs Father Ed to make the preparations for all to leave in the morning.  Father Ed nods and heads down to the basement as everyone else follows.  The man and women in the back pew do not move but just sit there, as if lost.

Lemach walks down the aisle and approaches them.

“Good evening my children.”

The woman seems shy and is hesitant to speak, but they both look at Lemach as he waits for their response.

After what seemed to be longer than twenty seconds in this silence, the man speaks.  “Good evening Father, I think  am supposed to call you Father from what I know…” he pauses, waiting for any correction, which does not come, “…thank you for the relic.”

“You are Welcome, and what brings you to us at this time of night?”

They both had a look of shock for the question was direct and they could tell in the eyes of the man that stood before them; his question was a serious one.

“I…we…” the man begins weakly, but stops.

“We have no were else to turn,” the woman replies in a soft and fragile tone.

“Come with me,” Lemach motions for them to follow him, and with his command they follow without hesitation.

Lemach bows before the altar and they follow suit, and they go to the side exit, on the opposite site of the entrance to the basement.  They enter into the office area of the church.  In one section there is a small round table surrounded by four chairs.  Lemach takes a seat and motions for them to sit down.

“My name is Lemach, and the priest that has gone with the others is Father Ed.”

“My name is Gregory and this is my partner Jasmine.”

“Why do you say partner about her?”

“That is our designation on our papers.”

“Are you believers in the true faith?”

They pause; they did not know how to answer that question.

“All our lives they have told us make your own faith…” the woman beings to speak as tears fall down her cheeks.  “We lived the lies that we suppose to make us happy, but the emptiness in my heart grows deeper and deeper.”

Lemach waits for her to catch her breath.  Gregory also waits for Jasmine to continue for he did not know why he was here or what to say, he only knew that deep inside he loved her, truly, differently and wanted what she was seeking if it keeps him close to her.

“I am fifty now and Gregory is forty eight.  We thought we were happy but in my heart I knew there was something always missing.  Last month I got a link from a Philomena, just a first name, a strange name.  It said ‘come and see the goodness of the Lord.’ I clicked on it and it just showed two streets intersecting each other but then it downloaded a file to my device.”  She lifts up her computer device and shows it to Lemach, it had the title of the file showing ‘The Good News.’

“I started reading and that is when my world changed.  I started to see the darkness.”  Jasmine stops to take a breath.

Lemach shifts his gaze from Jasmine to Gregory, “and you?”

“I want her to be happy, she is sad all the time after that day.  She said she would leave me and come by herself.  I knew then I could not live without her so I came and told her I will help her.”

Jasmine continues, “And now I am confused, for this person that died and you buried was named Philomena and you called her Saint.”

Lemach looks at both of them and sees the loss in their life, the toll that this world had put on them.

“She is alive with God and is praying for us as I am sure she is praying for both of you now, but there is a choice that you both have to make.”

Gregory and Jasmine look at Lamech in silence.

“We leave in the morning away from this darkness into a new land to prepare a new life and wait for Him that is coming again.”

“So you are asking us if we would go with you?”  Gregory responds as his mind stuggles to grasp what Lemach was saying.

“Yes that is the question you have to answer, both of you have much to learn about the faith, but the journey is long and we will have time.”

Gregory and Jasmine look at each other and back at Lemach, but say nothing.

“Do you have children?”  Lemach interrupts their silence.

“No,” Gregory responds quickly, but Jasmine hesitantly utters a “no.”

Gregory notices the hesitation and looks at Jasmine as she lowers her head in thought, trying to wish the past away from her mind.

“How many?”  Lemach asks, and as he does Gregory looks at him anger flashing in his eyes.

Jasmine feels his body change posture and notices his anger.  She had tried talking to him about this in the last month and knew the reaction he would have.

She reaches out and touches Gregory’s arm, “yes many years ago.”  She pauses and Gregory looks at her again now meeting her eyes, he loved her, he felt it deep inside of him and wanted this sadness to go away.  Jasmine continues, “I have known you before you were in your mother womb, I might not have said that correctly but I think that is what it says in what I have read.”

“Yes it is.”  Lemach responds.

“Four I have let the world take, no I deemed my life more important.”

Gregory’s body language changes, “We have left them behind for what we thought was our happiness,” a deep hurt and loss in his voice as a tear trickles down his left cheek.

“Now we have to go through many things for my body to hold a child and the world has so many options.  The more we thought about them the more my heart, no, soul became troubled.”

“Do we have to have children if we decide to come with you?”  Gregory asks.

“No,” Lemach responds.  I knew you had children and wanted to see where you both were at.”  He pauses.  “I can help you and teach you about the faith on our Journey,” He puts his hand up before they had a chance to respond, “and you can go home and decide.  If the answer is yes bring things that you need, some clothing and personal items and meet us here tomorrow morning at 06:00.”

Gregory and Jasmin, now holding each other’s hands, nod to Lemach.  Lemach stands up and he walks them out to the main door, “do not be afraid, ask and you will receive, be safe my children.”  They smile back at Lemach and walk out of the church.

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