The Flock Carries On

Note: Here in this story, we learn more about the characters of Pastor Sarah and her Flock. Heather has grown up quite a bit and is engaged to her beloved Daniel and is about to embark upon a new chapter in her life: Marriage. The other members (most of them) are discussed here. This is just to prove that no matter what your faith background, you're human, but God loves you regardless of the mistakes you make.

Chapter 1—Friends and Lovers

Heather Meadows was about to become Mrs. Lebowitz. She would have to convert to Judaism, but it was a decision she had made on her own. She knew her parents and family would support her. But she was a little anxious. She wasn't certain she would make a particularly good Jew, but she shook that notion out of her head. She was still young, and she would have plenty of time to learn about her original roots. After all, Christianity was just a version of Judaism. It couldn't be as hard as she had led herself to believe.

The curly redhead breathed in deeply and exhaled slowly to calm her nerves. She could hear Machiavelli's Cannon being played by the small string and brass octet that she had specially hired for this momentous occasion.

"Alright, Heather…Now's your time to shine. Just remember to breathe and don't trip on your dress.", she told herself as the wedding march began. Heather picked up her lacy skirts and lifted them up a little below her knees and began walking slowly and steadily. Waiting for her at the altar was her best friend and most beloved kindred soul, Daniel. As usual, he looked even more handsome than she could've possibly imagined. She giggled to herself, thinking how it had taken her so many years just to let him know how she truly felt about him, but it had been worth the wait to become his wife. She never thought that it would ever happen, but now that it was, it was as if she had stepped out of a storybook and become the Princess joining hands with her precious Prince.

Daniel turned to see his blushing bride and became red himself. He had seen her in a dress before when they danced together at their junior and senior prom, but he had never thought she could look more ravishing than she did now. She was a work of art to behold and it gave new meaning to the scripture in Genesis when God had created a partner for Adam. He could only imagine how Adam felt at that moment, and he thought it was the perfect love story, fashioned by the perfect Matchmaker. He held her gloved hands and said, very softly,

"I'm so glad God brought us together, and I pray this day leads to many more days of unmitigated ecstasy." Heather turned even redder upon hearing those words.

In front of God, family and even the world, the rabbi gave them the right to have their first kiss and be legally declared as a couple. There wasn't a dry eye in the congregation as the two partook in their first kiss and promenaded down the aisle to Machiavelli's Canon in D. Before the couple knew it, they were walking out to cheering family and friends and members of Sarah's flock encouraging them and supporting them. Many of the little children and adults alike blew bubbles instead of tossing rice, which was the traditional way, but bubbles were more ecological and economical. Besides, the symbolicicm of the circle represented the couple better as a whole.

Chapter 2—Slight Culture Shock

Heather had been to Jewish weddings before but she had never been a part of one herself. Suddenly, she had found herself being lifted up in a chair by four rather strong men and she and Daniel were brought together to hold hands.

"Are we having fun yet ?", Daniel said, cheering and smiling joyfully. Heather, not used to all of the attention, was enjoying herself, but she found it to be a little awkward. She nodded and cheered herself, and noticed the gaze of her husband's eyes again. It was one of devout love and elation that it was contagious. Again, she cheered gleefully and was soon brought back to the floor to join her husband in some very fast-paced and dizzying dances.

Though it was alien at first, Heather soon came to know what all of the dancing was truly about and why Jewish weddings hadn't been changed for thousands of years.

"I guess when you've got a good thing going, changing it is out of the question.", she said to Daniel as they enjoyed their meal together. The Lebowitz family had provided quite a repast for everyone involved and there was enough food to go around, as well as myriads of gifts for the happy newlyweds. They would be living lives outside their parents' help but they realized that together they could take upon any tribulation that came their way, but nothing prepared them for the MC coming around and asking everyone their compliments. They started with speeches from the bride and groom and they simply improvised. Though some of Heather's words came out as spoonerisms, they made perfect sense to David. He was just as nervous as she was, but they were both having the biggest, brightest and most sensational time of their lives.

Chapter 3—Blessings Abounding

Heather had her certificate in counseling completed not soon after the honeymoon and she found herself dividing her time between her patients, and the love of her life. Albeit that her career was important, it wasn't as important as the love she shared with Daniel. Many times, she would lose herself in his embrace practically every night and the next morning mom and dad would call to see how she was doing, just because they cared.

"We're fine, mother. Don't be a meddler !", Heather would joke, only half-meaning the hurtful term. Sarah meant well, but she had a tendency to worry about her only child. It was only natural for her to do so. After a while, she stuck to email and only called around the weekend and then, during the holidays.

Then, it happened. One morning, Heather thought she felt a tick in her stomach and realized it was more than that. She tapped on her tummy with her finger, and it tapped back.

"How long have I been pregnant ?", she thought. It had only been 3 months and she hadn't shown much change in her outward appearance. She had experienced very strange cravings like Orange Juliuses coupled with cinnamon pretzels, but she never gave it much thought. When she told Daniel about the fact that she was pregnant, he practically hollered in jubilance all over his workplace. He couldn't believe it, he was about to be a father.

Heather was dumbfounded as well, but she knew that it was destined to happen. She had wanted to be a mother, after all. Excitedly and eagerly, she pondered about what she would name the baby and whether it would be a boy or a girl.

Heather's parents were also very excited for her as well as her in-laws. It seemed that the church was abuzz as well as the tabernacle where Heather now attended services. In a few more months, it had become more apparent that she was pregnant, and luckily she hadn't experienced "the dreaded disease of motherhood: alias morning sickness", but her cravings had become stranger and stranger.

By the ninth month, the Lebowitz home was bounding because Heather had awoken that night in the wee hours of the morning when she started experiencing labor pains. Daniel was beginning to become edgy, but he kept himself calm and continued to maintain steady breathing as he helped her to his car and drove her to the hospital in a steady and was able to get her inside before the contractions became much worse.

Heather wasn't expecting her delivery to be such a spectacle, but she couldn't have imagined it going any smoother than it did. Everyone from church she knew was there and all of her in-laws had come in to cheer her on. Even those who had problems in the past, like Ashton, who had an addiction to various illegal drugs, had overcome their demons and come in to support "the darling of the Meadows".

Fairly soon, with some slight pain, Heather gave birth to a baby boy, Elijah Isaac. He resembled his father in his looks, but when his eyes opened, he most certainly bore his mother's beautiful emerald orbs. He had been crying quite a bit, but calmed down as soon as he was handed to his parents, who looked at him with great wonder and amazement.

"I can't believe it…This is what it is like to have a child of one's own !", Daniel said, becoming a little teary-eyed.

"And isn't he beautiful ? Little Elijah…", Heather said, crooning her little boy's name as if it were a prayer and melody combined. Everyone was instantly in love with the little boy. They could see him growing up and doing great thing, but one thing was certain: the sweet baby would be cherished and raised by both communities so he would have a rich and diverse background.

Chapter 4—Insane Family Reunion

Albeit that Elijah was only about 2 ½ years old presently, he had started walking and talking. He was inquisitive about the world around him, and especially loved to play with Daniel's old childhood companion, Foofie, who was an ancient Golden Retriever. Foofie didn't do much of anything except lay about and sleep most of the time, but he didn't mind the little tyke giving him a tug on the ears every now and then. Foofie loved children, and protected Elijah, especially when he was lonely and needed a big furry hug or a sloppy kiss. Foofie would have many more years of life down the line despite his age, because even though he was elderly, he still had the spirit of a puppy deep within his heart.

Neither Foofie nor the rest of the Lebowitz family was expecting such a mass gathering of Meadows and Lebowitzes. They were present to surprise little Elijah on his upcoming 3rd birthday. Unknowingly, the little guy answered the door and was greeted by his adoring family and cheers and the merry sound of noisemakers. He immediately recognized Grandpa David and Grandma Miriam, but he wasn't expecting to see his Aunt Salome and Aunt Ruth as well as Uncle Samuel. The girls were young ladies now and Samuel had married a wonderful lady by the name of Harriet. It seemed that they would be expecting a little one of their own as well. Although Elijah was only 3, he had a feeling that something special was about to happen to Uncle Sammy and his wife, but he didn't know he was about to become an uncle in a few more months.

Sarah had remembered meeting David long ago when she was entering the parsonage and earning her masters of divinity. David had only recently engaged Miriam and she had been engaged by her high-school sweetheart, Andrew. Both of them were beginning new journeys in life and almost instantly they became close as if they had been siblings separated from birth and were reuniting for the first time. Since that time, the Rabbi had shared his experiences of faith and stories of the Holy Land, and she even had the honor and privilege of traveling there with a group of peoples of all creeds, faiths and beliefs. It was an eye-opening experience and made her even more open minded than she had originally thought. Some might've thought that she was marrying the rabbi herself, but nothing could be further from the truth. Those certain people were trying to stir up controversy, but she didn't let it stick in her craw. She knew that these people wanted to bring misery into their happy lives and she tolerated them, gave them her blessings or completely ignored them. Nonetheless, she still finds miserable people in the world that hate her simply because she is joyful almost constantly but she learns from them as well.

The Lebowitzes had stayed the night and were as welcome as a spring day with the Meadows. It had been incredible for all of them to see how little Elijah was growing and how gentle Foofie could be. He could be a guard dog if he wished, and this is why Heather had never had a security system installed since she felt so comfortable with her quadruped protector. It might have seen a bit analog in a digital age to have a dog as a deterrent against thieves, but not one criminal had come to the house since they had moved in, and the neighborhood despite its friendly people, had its share of break-ins during the past years.

Epilogue

It's amusing how time flies, particularly when one has a family to spend it with. Little Elijah certainly proved that theory to be true. Elijah is currently five and eager to attend preschool for the first time in his life. Though he might be moved up a grade thanks to his vast intelligence, it's certain the little guy will adapt well and his parents and family will support him the whole way. Already, he's developed quite a passion for piano and both mom and dad have supplied him with lessons so he can become an accomplished pianist in time. Who knows, perhaps Elijah Lebowitz could become the next Mozart ?

As for Sarah, she is still shepherding her flock and tackling tough issues. Though she isn't a fundamentalist, she often receives much criticism from them from time to time. She tackles them using the Bible, ironically enough, but she feels that true answers are found in having an open-mind, and embracing LOVE. She knows that having unconditional love and practicing agape can be challenging but she doesn't give up. Though her ways might seem a bit "new age" in some respects, her heart is in the right place, and her flock continues to grow. Everyone she has touched has become a better person, even though all her members worship in their own way. She knows that eventually she will cross a person who loathes her only because of the fact that "she doesn't seem to even be like a 'real priest'", as many nay-sayers have stated. She doesn't let this stiffen her stole or wrinkle her robe. She has always faced adversity, but she does so with a smile and is confident that she has done all she can to reinforce good values in the world. Her daughter Heather is an excellent example of this. She now lives on through her grandchild, and hopefully through many more grandchildren to come.

Come what may, the Meadows spirit lives in those of us who believe in love, no matter how cliché that might sound. Love is a very powerful concept though we might not completely understand it. No matter what, love is what initially holds us all together, unites us and reminds us that initially, we are all human beings and we simply must be reminded that it is something as simple and profound as this that keeps us clinging onto one another, knowing one day that there will be peace, even if it might not be in our plane alone. Yet, eventually, there will come that happy time, when all of us will look back and laugh, thinking how silly we were to bicker and to call assumptions on one another. We need to learn from Sarah's story. We need to take in the present moment, hold it in our hearts, and keep it there (or we could share this moment with others, however the mood finds us). So long as we are willing, we need to open ourselves and remember the purity of true love and that truthfully, it is what we all want and need in this aching, sick and broken world. With a little love, with a little hope, we will surely make it, and maybe with a bit of fate, we can make it through some of this negativity as brothers and sisters.

Amen, Hallelujah !