My Refuge and Fortress: Reconciliation (Part Ten)

“Hello.”  Laura said it again.  She could hear faint sounds of whimpering on the other end of the line, it sounded like someone was trying to stifle tears.  Laura knew who it was, caller ID didn’t allow for secrets, but she couldn’t understand what was going on, why was Clara so upset?  “What’s the matter, Clara, are you crying?”  A thousand different scenarios of reconciliation had played in Laura’s mind over the weeks, but never this one.  “Clara?”  “Yes,” Clara sounded like the squeaker toy she’d wrestled away from Ringo the night before.  “It’s me.”  She paused.  She hadn’t thought of what she’d say, she just knew she had to hear Laura’s voice.  “Why? Why did you do it?”  Laura furrowed her brows, what was she talking about?  Why did I do what? She thought but didn’t speak.   Laura’s silence signaled Clara that she had no idea what Clara was talking about.  “Why did you pay my rent?”   Ah, the rent, Laura understood now.  It was supposed to be a secret, Clara was never supposed to know.   “Well, I should tell you, it wasn’t my idea. It was God’s.  I was praying for you at work and it popped into my head.  I could never have known you needed help without divine intervention.”  Clara cried some more.  At this point she’d lost all awareness of her surroundings, she was caught up in the complete love of her Savior; she felt warm and safe.  He knew all along what her needs would be and he’d met them before she’d fallen into calamity.  “Thank you.”  She squeaked out.  Tears filled Laura’s eyes, “how are you?  I’ve missed you so much.”  “Well, I’m better now that I’m not facing homelessness.”  Clara let out a chuckle through the tears.  “How about lunch, it’s on me.”  Laura held her breath for the minute it took Clara to respond.  “Yes, when and where? I’ll be there.”   Her voice still shaky. They agreed on a plan and Laura ended the call. 

Laura sat still, facing the makeshift wall of her cubicle.  Her cheeks were flushed from what had just transpired.  And then, one by one, tears began to slide down her cheeks.  She prayed silently, thanking the Lord for his guidance and provision and for the friendship she shared with Clara.  People go through hard times. It’s in difficult times the faithfulness of family and friends is crucial; even if they try to drive those who love them away.   Space may be what they desire for a moment, but what is needed most of all, is unconditional love; along with forgiveness and patience.  Never had this truth been clearer to Laura, even with phones ringing and people talking all around her.  God had asked her to do something she didn’t really understand, and, very literally, it had cost her something.  She would never tell Clara, but she hadn’t an extra dime all month.  She too had lived on rations so she could help a friend.  A friend, who, at the time, wasn’t even speaking to her.  She’d been faithful to love in the face of unfair treatment, and now, a beautiful relationship was being restored.  “I couldn’t have walked this road without you, Father.”  She whispered as she wiped her face.   Nothing around her had changed, but her heart would never be the same.

Clara climbed the stairs back to her apartment.  She was still quite emotional, wiping tears and feeling very thankful.  And sorrowful.  It still didn’t make sense that Laura would pay her rent even though Clara had been so terrible to her.  Why didn’t she ignore Clara’s call or answer the call, grateful for the chance to give Clara a “piece of her mind.”  Certainly Clara deserved those things.  But, instead she’d been gracious and even offered to buy lunch.   Clara felt convicted and decided right there in the metal stairwell to apologize the moment they laid eyes on each other.  Laura deserved that, at the very least. 

The moment Clara walked into the apartment, Ringo ran up and propped his front legs up on her shin.  Clara bent down and picked him up, telling him the events of the last hour as she did.  “You’re never gonna believe what happened…”  Ringo licked her face as if saying, “do tell.” 

Clara busied herself around the small dwelling, thankful she would be able to live there for at least another month. Thanks to the Good Lord and Laura.  She played praise music and danced while she worked.  It occurred to her around lunchtime she hadn’t checked her email.  She usually checked it first thing every morning in hopes of good news.  But, today she’d been so consumed with talking to the Landlord and then overwhelmed with Laura’s kindness, she’d forgotten all about it.   She laid her feather duster on the counter and walked over to her computer sitting open on the table.  “Wouldn’t this day be perfection if there was good news in my inbox, Ringo?”  She spoke to him as though he could respond as she booted up her laptop.  She sang along with the radio as the new messages downloaded.  She scrolled through several and then stopped, figuratively, in her tracks when she saw the name New Ideal Architectural Design.  Her heart rate quickened as she moved the mouse over the link and clicked.   She held her breath as she read.

Dear CLARA BELL,

We received your application and resume and would like to talk with you further about a possible job opportunity with New Ideal Architectural Design.  Please respond to this email if you are interested.

Sincerely,

Dianna Ideal

Clara read it and then read it again.  She rubbed her eyes and read it one more time for good measure.  She sat down quickly at the small table, poised her hands on the keyboard to respond when suddenly, she sprung out of the seat and danced around the apartment with Ringo on her heels.  She squealed and laughed and cried and praised the Lord for good news!   And then she sat down, still breathing heavy from her shenanigans, and responded.  “Yes, I am still interested…” she tapped the letters with more joy than she’d had in weeks.   Once she’d finished, she picked up Ringo and laid him across her lap.  “Well, boy, who knows what’s next?  I think I’m learning to take it one day at a time.  Here we go…” 

Then, she pressed send.

The day couldn’t get much better.  Well, maybe it could.  She remembered she’d promised to meet David at the dog park late in the afternoon.   Her heart skipped a beat.  She couldn’t wait to tell him all that had transpired.  She knew he loved Jesus, he’d made that abundantly clear.  Until today, she hadn’t wanted to talk much about her own faith. 

Now, she couldn’t wait.   

He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”
Psalm 91:15-16

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