Bella, part 10 – What Forest?

An hour later, Bella joined the other people heading to the lobby. The service had been way different than anything she could have imagined and she was still filled with that golden goodness that had filled the air as Pastor Toby talked. Funny, she couldn’t recall anything that he had said but it didn’t matter. Just being there was what counted.

“Can I help you?” asked an older woman. “You look kind of lost.”

“Are the services always like this?” Bella asked her.

“Well, yes and no. Each service is different in many ways but they are all filled with Pastor Toby’s special touch. He’s pretty wonderful, isn’t he?” The lady smiled at Bella. “Hi, my name is Amanda. Is this your first time here?”

“Bella. Nice to meet you.” Bella answered politely. “Yes, this is my first service.”

“Welcome! I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them. And if I can’t, I can find someone who can.”

“Actually, I do have questions.”

“Let’s get some coffee and we can sit over there at that table.”

“Sounds good,” Bella smiled. Coffee did sound good but getting some answers sounded even better.

After getting their coffee and settling down, Amanda said, “OK, what do you want to IMG_20180730_170130302know?”

“How long have you been coming here?”

“Oh, hmmm, let me think.” Amanda took a sip of her coffee. “I guess it’s been about ten years now.”

“So you know Pastor Toby pretty well, then?”

“Sure. He’s friendly and totally approachable. Why?”

“He just seems to be too good. And a bit mysterious.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, for one, he seems to love me even though he doesn’t’ know me. And he’s very interested in whatever I say.”

“Yes, he does love everyone. I don’t know why. It’s like he can’t help it. And he is a great listener.”

“So he’s not just pretending?”

“Nope. That’s one thing he never does. He never pretends. He’s always honest with us.”

“What about his son, Jude?”

“He’s just like his father. He’s also a great problem solver. Talking with him always seems to help when I have a problem, or even just a decision I have to make. His insight is amazing.”

“Have you been in their backyard?”

“Sure.”

“Don’t you think it’s kind of strange?”

“No, why should I?”

“Because it’s so big. Way bigger than it looks from the outside.”

“That’s part of the magic of this place…”

Bella cut in quickly. “So there IS magic here?”

Amanda laughed. “No, not magic like magic tricks and trickery. I mean magic as in out of the ordinary, beyond words. Like if I said I had a magical time with my family on our last vacation.”

“Oh. OK. I get it. So how is the backyard so big? All those wild flowers. And a lake! How is that even possible?”

“They do have a lot of flowers in their greenhouse, but no lake. At least I haven’t seen one. But maybe it’s on the other side of the forest, where I haven’t been yet.”

“Forest?”

“Yes, it’s pretty amazing. I’m glad Pastor Toby didn’t cut down the trees when this church was built. His little forest is my favorite place to come when I’m feeling down.”

“Forest?” Bella asked again. “But there’s no forest back there. There’s only the garden, a large field of flowers, and a lake.”

“You must be mistaken. I’ve never seen anything but the forest.”

Bella stared at her. Were they talking about the same back yard? Just how big was this place? Then she thought about a holodeck again. And again it began to make sense. Different programs for different people. She could buy that, if only she could buy the whole alien thing.

“Amanda,” Bella began slowly. “Have you ever noticed anything… strange… about Pastor Toby or Jude?”

 

Bella stories:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really Part 1 Part 2

Bella part 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Bella, part 5 – Yellow and Blue Theory

Bella woke up the next morning with one thought on her mind. She WAS going to get some answers. She didn’t know how. And she didn’t know when. But she would get them.

All through work that day, thoughts of Pastor Toby danced through her mind. Who exactly was he? And why did he love her even though he didn’t know her? Or did he? Maybe he did know her from somewhere. If so, she couldn’t figure out where.

After work, knowing it was too late in the day to visit the church, she got back online to do more research.

“Who is Pastor Toby?” she typed. She knew from the earlier research she had done that there would be many opinions, so she was prepared with a notebook and pen to take notes. Maybe she would see a pattern or theme that would give her a better picture of who he was.

As she scrolled through the search results, clicking on one site after another, she made a list.

An hour later, she stopped to stretch. Looking at her list, she shook her head. This is crazy, she thought. There’s no rhyme or reason for what people think about him. She decided to take a break and headed to the kitchen to make dinner.

When she had finished eating, she found herself wishing she had some of Pastor Toby’s peach cobbler for desert. She wondered if he would consider selling her one if she asked the next time she went over there. One of many questions I’ll ask, she thought, as she headed back to her computer.

She decided she was too tired to keep searching. Besides, it really wasn’t helping much. Instead, she picked up her notebook and pen and went into her bedroom. She put on her PJ’s, brushed her teeth, and climbed into bed. Leaning back against the headboard, she studied the list she had made. There had to be some way to make sense of it.

As she read through the list, she noticed that some of the items contradicted what she already knew about him, while others matched her own observations. She decided to group them into three groups.

True

Not True

Unknown

True: teaches about God, church leader, mysterious, loves everyone (at least she knew he loved her), kind, brings life to things  around him (like his backyard), unique, lived at the church forever (that’s what Jude had said), likes to feed the hungry (fed her that amazing peach cobbler), likes to talk

Not True: stays to himself, won’t let others near him, only interested in his son (he sure was interested in her)

Unknown: can make people see what’s not there, commands strict obedience, out of touch with life around him,  sacrifices to help others, selfish, hoards the money given to the church,  secretive, built the church and yard with his own hands, supernatural, can do things no one else can do, nice on the outside but dangerous on the inside, reclusive, gets involved in everything whether it’s his business or not

She put her pen and notebook on the side table. That’s enough for now, she thought sleepily. I’ll look at it again tomorrow.

The next day, she couldn’t wait to get home after work. She stopped only long enough to pick up some fast food. All throughout that day, a thought had slowly formed in her mind that she wanted to check out, and she didn’t want anything to get in the way.

She dropped her keys and purse on the entrance table, set the fast food on the kitchen table, then went to get her notebook and some highlighters from her bedroom. Settling IMG_20180601_222435544down at the table, she chewed on  her burger as she read through her lists and highlighted everything positive with her yellow highlighter. Then she highlighted all the negative things with her blue highlighter.

She had been right! Everything she knew about Pastor Toby was yellow. While everything she knew was not true about him was blue.  The ‘Unknown’ list was a mixture of blue and yellow.

OK, she thought. If everything I’ve seen and heard and experienced with him is positive, then maybe all the positive ‘Unknowns’ are also true. And if all the ‘Not True’s about him were negative, then maybe the negative ‘Unknowns’ are lies too. Maybe they were written by people who didn’t really know him.

With this realization came mixed emotions. On one hand she was excited and eager to spend more time with him, to get to know him better. Some of those positive unknowns were pretty amazing. But on the other hand, she was afraid to test out her theory. What if she was wrong? What if he was only showing her the positive until he won her over, then she’d find out how dangerous he was when she could no longer get away.

The rest of the week dragged by slowly as she struggled with those two opposing thoughts, each clamoring for her attention and juggling to gain top billing. Finally Friday night arrived. As she got ready for bed, she thought, “Tomorrow is the day. For good or for bad, I’m going back. This time, not only will I get some answers, but I’m going to look specifically for anything negative.  If I find it, I’ll know that some of those other negative ‘Unknowns’ are probably true. Then I’ll know I can’t trust him and I’ll leave. No matter how good that peach cobbler is.”

 

 

Links to previous parts of this story:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 1

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 2

Bella, part 1- Heart VS Brain

Bella, part 2 – Distractions

Bella, part 3 – Overcoming Detours

Bella, part 4 – Questions