Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The truth

After her brothers and father left, I sat next to Anna Kristina.

”Before you speak, I want to say I’m sorry,” she said. “l came home feeling confused. My father asked me what was wrong, and I told him what happened. I’m sorry that I put you in this situation.”

“I came here willingly,” I said. “There is nothing to be sorry about.”

“But I am a foolish girl. To think…”

She looked down.

“To think what?”

“That, you, we..”

I took her hand.

“I like the sound of that `we,’” I said.

She looked at me, amazement in her eyes.

“Do you … care for me?” She asked.

“More than you can know.”

“But I am so young. I’ve never been away from my homeland. I know so little of life. And you are a man of the world. A traveler. A holy man.”

I laughed.

“And here I was thinking that you were troubled by my age.”

“Your age? I never thought of it. You are so young at heart.”

“Well, I think you for saying that. But my age is an issue. And something else.”

I chuckled.

Actually, a couple of things.”

“I don’t care about your age.”

“How old do you think I am?”

She thought for a moment.

“50? 60?”

“Much more than that.”

“But you don’t seem even that old.”

“Thank you. But I am much older. Older than you could even imagine. In fact, you might think me crazy if I told you. So I’ll tell you something that will sound even crazier.”

I took a deep breath.

“Your brother is named after Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra.”


“I am Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra.”

“You are a bishop?” She gasped.

“Well, that’s unclear. I was bishop. But what I’m trying to say is that I am that Nicholas.”

She looked confused.

“The saint? But he died centuries ago.”

“Yes, I did. And that is another of those things I needed to tell you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I am Nicholas, one time Bishop of Myra. I died many years ago. But God gave me a great gift. He allowed me to remain in the world to continue to help people. Especially the children I so love.”

The she did something I never expected.

She laughed.

“I knew there was something special about you!”

“Then, you believe me?”

“My dear Nicholas, I know you are not a liar.”

“I am glad you believe me. But we have some problems we must face if we are to hope for more.”

She brushed her hand across my face.

“Whatever they are, we can face them together, God willing.”

“Yes, God willing.”

I shrugged.

“First, let me say that my heart’s desire is to make you my wife. I have never felt like that about any woman before. God willing, it can happen.

“But I was a priest and bishop. I made a promise to live celibate. I have kept that promise. I don’t know if that vow still holds because I died. And that is another problem. I died. I don’t know if that prevents me from living like other men. I have lived for centuries. I don’t know what would happen to one who lived with me.”

“How long has Peter been with you?”

“Close to a century,” I said. “So I guess the blessing is shared with those who are with me. But I don’t know if that would be the same with a wife.”

I suddenly stopped.

“And I am a foolish man. I have not even asked if that is what you would want.”

“With all my heart,” she said, suddenly hugging me.

“Well, we need to see if it can be done. But my life is a strange one. I travel for land to land, helping, teaching others to help, then moving on. Is that a life you would be happy with?”

“Helping others? Yes. And doing that with you? Yes many times over.”

“Then we need to find out if it can be done. I must appeal to Rome.”

“I think the first thing to do is to pray.”

I smiled.

“Of course. I will pray.”

“We will both pray.”

“And what do we tell your family?”

She laughed.

I’m glad she could laugh about that!


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