“Your writing project is making my ministry difficult. I’ve kept my soul in a pillowcase with the top tied tight and now it’s found the opening, trying to loosen the string and slip through. I don’t know whether to thank you or show you the door.”
That last time they’d met, besides suggesting the documentary, Nell had left him some chapters of her book to read, papers he had taken as if they might be a poisonous mushroom. And yet he had read them in one sitting without stopping for dinner until he was done.
“You won’t show me the door. I’m just one person who has looked at this interesting material. Getting rid of me wouldn’t change the people of Kashmir and what they know, what they have known all through the same centuries during which a false story was being told in the West.”
As he stared at her, she said, “The truth is a wild cat and cannot be domesticated without becoming a lie.”
“I know. I know. What I don’t know is what to do about my church. What am I supposed to tell them? What am I supposed to tell myself? This new information has taken away all my yardsticks and replaced them with wriggling yarn. My head is a tangle of yarn. I’m an old sweater unraveling in the attic. All kinks and knots.”
Pastor Joel was an astonishingly handsome man in spite of the deepening wrinkles. His straight dark hair with streaks of silver was glossy as polished ebony. But she saw misery written on his face.
“Did you say your head is full of yarns?”
He laughed in spite of himself. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to whine. I’m supposed to be a grownup.”
“You are a grownup, Joel. Among the bravest.”
He shook his head no and she shook her head yes, smiling impishly at him.
“Nell, how am I supposed to take my crisis of the soul seriously with you teasing like that?”
Her impish grin grew into a rascally smile.
He frowned. “You are enjoying this, aren’t you?”
She sobered. “Not entirely. I know you are hurting. Look, I can’t answer your questions. I can only give you my book. I hope it will be a step toward healing for you and for other readers.”
“I hope so, too. I pray to get past the pain.”