Leo looked up at his office clock and then down again at his notes. There was no more time tonight for study, and besides, the work was proving too difficult to focus on. Writing a sermon on love in mid-February, when so many minds were hurting and hearts broken in his community felt like a huge burden. He was an unmarried pastor who had no expectations of a valentine’s card again this year, though he would dearly have loved to have received one. How could he possibly talk to the congregation about the meaning of love?
He shut down his computer, pushed the books to the back of the desk and stretched. Perhaps it would be better to get out, get some fresh air and pray. He put his coffee mug by the sink – he’d have to wash it up tomorrow, and locked up the vestry. It was already dark and somewhat damp out. He jogged to the car, then paused. He’d not made good on his promise yet to call on Edie, and she’d be lonely too at this time of the year; her first as a widow. He drove to a local corner shop, picked up a pretty bunch of flowers and knocked on her door. Her face lit up when she saw him, and after he’d taken off his Doc Martens they sat in her front room with cups of green tea while she talked about sorting out Jim’s clothes and the aching emptiness of her grief.
On his way back to the car Leo checked the time again on his phone. Time for a quick late bite to eat at home, he reckoned. But it had been a busy week; he wasn’t sure he could remember if there was anything in the fridge. He parked up in town and hurried over to a cash machine. Sitting in the shadows of a doorway nearby, huddled and hunched within a blanket was a homeless man. Leo recognised him. Jonno had had his problems, but underneath his issues he was a hurting person, and likely very lonely right now too. Leo knew Jonno didn’t like a fuss, so got a couple of burgers and a coke from across the street and knelt to hand them over. He patted Jonno on the shoulder, looked him in the eye and smiled.
Tired but grateful for small mercies, he munched on his own burger on his drive home. As he parked up his phone lit up. Two new messages. One from the music leader. Could they use a couple of the young people in the group this week? And could he finalise the song choices tonight? In easy keys, if possible?
And the second message, from his sister. Just what he needed. A photo of his young niece Kitty as a thank you for her birthday money and showing off what she’d got: a pair of pink baby DMs. Her first shoes. He laughed out loud. His sister knew him too well.