A Question of Eternity

A Question of Eternity

Virginia, who had just brought a plate of steaming brown bread to the table and placed it beside the bean pot said, “I’m sure if I smelled like you smell I couldn’t eat either.” Phyllis turned pleadingly to her father, “Daddy do I still smell like a skunk?” To which Hank replied, “Well little one you are somewhere between skunk,” (exaggerating mispronouncing) “Channel No 5, and V8 juice.”  He patted her consolingly on her flushed cheek and said, “I want you to be very quiet at the table tonight, speak only when spoken to do you understand?  Phyllis nodded in acknowledgement and thought ”Just spank me and let me speak I don’t do well under torture.“ Nevertheless she determined to obey. Hank took note of Virginia’s remark for a moment and thought it seemed out of character. Victor was suddenly aware of being very hungry at the sight and smell of all the food.  He had not had homemade baked beans since last year. He took a freshly made roll and put it on his plate. Hank said, ”Lets pray. His family bowed their heads. Victor and Ruth exchanged glances and bowed too.  Hank thanked God for the food and journey mercies for his family.  He prayed for his dad and other family members by name. At the “AMEN” Linda took Hank’s plate and put on a portion of beans, brown bread, cole slaw, along with a hot dog and a roll. She then took her brother’s plate a fixed it for him in the same manner. She continued until she had served everyone. During this the tone of the conversation was very different. They chatted about family and friends and the events of the past year with the children (except Phyllis) occasionally volunteering a bit of information on the topic at hand. Victor was finishing his third helping when Linda asked, “Who wants desert? I’ve got some apple pie.” Everyone groaned in appreciation and anticipation.  The meal was nearly finished when Victor asked, while looking at Hank, “What is up with you?  You all seem so different.” Hank was taken back a bit by the question, he knew he had changed on the inside, but did not know it showed on the outside and said so.   Victor responded, “Well it does show in your face and the way you talk, and you prayed before we ate tonight.”  Ruth’s eyes were riveted on Hank. They revealed a combination of extreme interest tinged with fear. Hank continued, “Well the short answer is; “I became a Christian.” To which Victor replied seeking to lighten the moment; “What were you before a heathen?” Hank looked at him squarely and said evenly, “Yes.”  Then he added, “And worse.”


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