Excerpts from “Image and Likeness” – Part 2

NadineYear of the Pilgrim

By Eric Cyr

Continued from Part 1

The Argument

The night before they prepared for what would be their last trip to the church in San José, Adán and Eva sat in the kitchen and argued in voices hushed so as not to be heard by their children.

The argument had begun when Eva told her husband that the Senate had rejected the petition and that she had heard members of the League discussing plans for a response.

Adán took up his old argument with fire as he tugged uneasily at the ends of his broad, bristly mustache. “What kind of response do they propose? Do they think that a few farmers with guns and pitchforks can fight against an army of federales?”

“Perhaps not, but we must try. Would you have us do nothing and be killed one by one in our homes, in our churches? Would you have our son never learn the love of God because Calles tells you he cannot?”

“But he can and must learn of God’s love, and because of that we cannot fight. If we kill in His name, how can we teach our son to love, to forgive? How could we hate and kill and then teach him love? I tell you, we could not. And so we cannot fight.”

“If we don’t stand up and fight, there will be no one left to love. We will be stripped of everything, even our love. Most especially our love. I don’t want to fight, Adán, I don’t want to see good men and women die, but there is nothing else left to us. We have done everything else but die.”

Adán pulled ruminantly on his mustache again. “You say we have tried everything, that there is nothing else we can do, that we must choose the lesser of two evils; but we cannot choose evil! The way of the Lord is never the way of evil, even the lesser of two. We must only ever choose to do what is good, what is true, what is right—even if it leads to our deaths!” He pounded the table emphatically on this last word. Standing, he paused and looked gropingly around the room for a moment, then back at his seated wife. “When evil presses on from the east, and evil pushes in from the west, will no one stand and face them both? Or will we bend our wills to support which we deem less deplorable?”

“But at times war is unavoidable, is right and just. And justice too cannot be evil. Even God himself came to suffer, to sacrifice, to die. I came not to bring peace but the sword, he said. Shall we not do the same?” Eva’s eyes flashed defiantly at her husband.

“To suffer, to sacrifice, to die—yes. But to kill, to take life—no, never!” He sat again in the chair across from his wife. “No, remember: Our Lord forgave even from the cross. Christ himself has said, he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.”

At last Eva’s voice lost its hush, and its strength matched her steady gaze as she hit the table with a force that rattled the dishes on it. “And perhaps we shall die by the sword! But we will die so that we may live. We will die for a life worth living. We will die rather than bend our wills, as you say, to the injustice of Calles.” Her breathing grew more labored, and she could feel the weariness overtaking her as she spoke on determinedly. “We must do the will of God, not the will of Calles. And doing the will of God requires at least that much—doing, not just waiting for whatever happens. We have done all that we can without putting it to a fight.” As she spoke she felt her head begin to spin, she felt herself losing control of her body and her consciousness slipping away, but still she continued with ever greater force and conviction. “We have been pushed, beaten, driven out, murdered in the streets, in our churches, in our homes. Now we must push back, now, now we must…”

But at last she could continue no longer. She let the exhaustion take over her as she slumped in her chair and fell bent over on the table. Adán forgot the heat of their argument in an instant and rushed to her side, kneeling next to her and supporting her head gently with his coarse, calloused hand. He carried her cradled in his arms like a child back to their bed and laid her softly on the fragrant sheets that still smelled of the hot afternoon sun that had dried them. He stayed awake by her side for most of the night, looking back and forth from her care-worn sleeping face to the darkness outside the window as he thought, until finally, fully dressed in jacket and tie and leaning against the tall, carved mahogany headboard, he fell into a heavy sleep.

Follow along with Part 3 tomorrow.

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