A Tuck-Bronwyn Serial Mystery
Six Months after the events chronicled in St.George’s Dragon.
The explosion had totalled a building that probably would not have passed inspection for all it was doing. St. Clare’s church went down in flames to end the Dragon Curse, but now the vacating lot in the Shire left the question in my heart as to whether or not the church would pay to rebuild the beacon or not?
Brother Lao is beside me as we sip our tea staring at the big hole, and the now contaminated community garden. Thankfully Tariq (the local house mosque Imam) has kept a vibrant network going that my congregation has added into, the loss of the building actually causing deeper community as they gather in their homes and are beginning to discover their neighbours.
“It’s a big hole, Tuck.” Lao said.
I simply nod in response, the yellow crime scene tape (at least the contamination tent came down, although the Bishop did pour 12 gallons of Holy Water on the site and performed a three hour exorcism after hearing about the fiasco). The Sherwood Evangelical Fellowship has collapsed as an organization as pastors and groups attempt to distance themselves from the Satanist that was there president.
But the Bishop still wants to talk to me. I have to admit I have been avoiding him; I mean St. Clare’s left the Anglican fold and sought out movement into the Roman Catholic fold as an Anglican Use parish to aid our congregation in staying alive as the soul of this cluster of communities is so important. But now we are known as the church that exploded during a Satanist rite, with the manse occupied by Buddhists with families living in sanctuary in it.
A hard knock Franciscan life, but I wonder if Francis would not be revelling in this movement, as one that has shown the true work of the Holy Mystery.
“Earth to Tuck?” Lao said.
“Sorry wool gathering as my Granny would say. The Bishop has dictated I am to meet with him this evening at the Cathedral after Mass.”
Lao arches his eyebrow in a very Vulcan move from Star Trek. “Intriguing, did they finally realize they let a Universalist into Rome?”
It’s my turn to chuckle at that. Lao had always said that meeting me was like when Gandhi first met the British missionaries, only in reverse, instead of disappointment in the lack of Jesus’, Lao saw in my actions and life in this parish someone attempting to simply live out Love.
I hand him my tea cup as we hear a vehicle pull up. My ride has arrived; I pick up the waft of her perfume, Bronwyn, an Inspector with the Sherwood Police Service. “Tuck you ready?”
That is the question as my Birkenstock’s crunch on the dirt and gravel as I head towards her car. There is that all to familiar tingle since we were first pubescent adolescents, and that was there the night of the explosion, and before. She is a good friend, but she is one that does not make one’s vow of celibacy easy. Her emerald green eyes, flaming red hair, freckles accented by dimples, and a sharp Irish-Welsh wit was a dynamite enough package without adding her intellect and perseverance.
I get in her Hyundai Fit and we pull away from the carnage that is my parish home. What Lao and Tariq know, but the Bishop and my other colleagues are unaware of (mostly from not asking) is that I am not living in the manse turned monastery or even with Tariq, I am crashing on Bronwyn’s couch (yes couch!).
Franciscan’s in general have a hard time in the church as we always tend to push the boundaries and try to restore what has become a highly institutionalized religious corporation regardless of the brand (or as one blogger came to term denominations, hash tag with a nod to Twitter) to the true holistic social movement Jesus of Nazareth imparted.
It makes us usually as popular as skunks at a picnic.
Bronwyn shifts and the back of her hand brushes my robe against my knee. She simply winks at me, she knows the line she is walking, and the question is if I am to act fully would my congregation understand my breaking of vows and the new clergy as Rome would de-frock me?
I have already had a rough road in keeping my Franciscan Charism, the journey into it within Anglicanism was long and it took me renewing my family discovery of Jesus from childhood, working and serving within Liberal, Conservative and Fundamental Christianities. None of them turning out well for this reason or that, Fundie’s casting me out as a heretic, Conservatives wanting me to teach according to their doctrine and not the heart of Jesus; and Liberals being uncomfortable with pushing the circle of inclusion wider still than where they had gotten it with women and the LGBTTIQ communities to drastically include all of the Creator’s children in all aspects of church life regardless of ability, situation, sexuality, gender, orientation or any other bloody label we as humanity had created to close our circles tightly.
The Anglicanism within a great mission field of the Shires seeing the lack of money and wanting to pull the plug, the move to Roman Catholicism not based on theology, but based on the fact that it was a business move to keep the parish alive and viable while continuing the Gospel Work.
But I do think a Satanist rite to bring a major demon into the world, and the group in a bloody way using your church basement and blowing the building sky high just might be a bit too much even for a broad universal (read too big to really micromanage every little parish or clergy) church to turn the other way at.
“Nervous to talk to the Bishop tonight?” Bronwyn asked. She is a good cop because of her intuition and she feels the low level of anxiety that is actually a dull roar within my spirit.
“A little, more for the Shire, than for me, as without St. Clare’s as a physical beacon what may happen?”
Stopped at a red light Bronwyn cock’s her head upwards at me. “Didn’t you just tell me last night that the shared house church/mosque network had lit a spiritual fire of renewal within the Shire and that there was more healthy changes happening than ever?”
Man I really hate it when she actually listens to me. It makes it so difficult to throw a pity party. “True.”
She harrumphs and her nose does a cute little squiggle. “So basically you are scared about having to live into your new reality, one that you keep encouraging all of us to live into?”
Okay now this is downright annoying, she even listens to my sermons that I have been posting online so that each group could participate whenever they had the time (as they also allowed for comments, blog and vlog links), the system had actually created a tighter community and my pastoral visits, and the thrust to equip a network of pastoral supports within the Shire had become more prevalent without the main building. The fact is that families began sharing what they had with their neighbours, and each little unit took up their collections to bless someone in need on their block as a “sacred surprise” each week. As such there really has been no money coming to the institutional parish, which could be another thing the Bishop is antsy about.
The Fit stops outside of the Public Library that borders the Shire communities. I follow Bronwyn through the police tape and into the building itself. She leads me to the religious section where there is a body dangling from the ceiling, and his bowels are dangling, splashed over an oversized version of the King James Bible (otherwise known as the Authorized Version).
“Suicide?” I ask.
Bronwyn shakes her head. “We’re not sure, Tuck. They found him who may not be a him like this. Any idea what the symbolism is?”