The next evening the phone rang as Liza was relaxing in the cottage that she and her husband were renting.
“Hi, it’s Lisbet,” said the voice at the other end. “I have to come over your way for something. Can I come and stay a night with you?”
Liza was delighted. “Of course you can,” she said. “But I want you to come somewhere with me while you’re here.”
“Where?” inquired Lisbet.
“The Church of the Holy Name of Jesus in Radchester,” replied Liza.
“Oh, you mean near the University?” asked Lisbet.
“Yes,” said Liza.
“O.K. said Lisbet,” but I must be setting off home again by mid afternoon as I have a Service at night.”
Liza had known Lisbet for a long time. She had come over from Sweden to take up a position as priest in an Anglican church. She and Liza had met through their academic work, and had become firm friends. Lisbet was what you might call “different.” She never got on with the male priests, or at least, she said they didn’t like her because they didn’t like female priests. But otherwise, she liked men very much indeed, and on the quiet was looking out for one to have a relationship with. She and Liza often met up together, and talked theology – and men. Or rather, Lisbet talked men! On one occasion they went swimming together at the local baths, and as they were making their way to a cublicle at the end of their time, a naked man was standing with his cubicle door open. Lisbet exclaimed,
“I wouldn’t mind, but I didn’t even fancy him!” Liza burst out giggling.
Lisbet arrived at the appointed time, and Liza tried to make her comfortable, but Lisbet was a very demanding character, and Liza decided that the best policy might be to take her out to the pub, where she could tell her all about the church and the goings on there.
“And of course there’s the University dons too. Some of them go to the church and some don’t, from what my friend Hugh tells me.
“Who is Hugh?” inquired Lisbet.
“Oh, he’s researching the history of Roman Catholicism in Radchester,’ she said. “He’s an Anglican priest turned Catholic who wants to be a Roman Catholic priest but there’s a problem – he has exploding bowels.”
“What on earth do you mean?” asked Lisbet.
“Oh, he has Crohn’s disease, but he says when he can get it under control he’ll be able to be a Roman Catholic priest. He knows everything about all the University lecturers and professors though, and he says that the way they go on, one of them will end up dead. They really have all got their knives into each other.”
“Sounds about right,” commented Lisbet. “Human nature never surprises me.”
On the Sunday morning Liza and Lisbet made their way the fifteen miles to the church. Liza was quite taken with a young girl sitting at the opposite side of the aisle to them. She spent most of the Mass in tears. Liza felt sorry for her, and when it came to Communion, Liza mouthed to her across the aisle, and
“Do you want me to walk up with you to Communion?”
The girl nodded, and Liza duly escorted her to the front.
At the end of the Mass Father Ray collared the girl saying,
“Have you got some candlesticks for me?”
The girl began to run, and Liza stood there open mouthed. Lisbet pulled at her coat sleeve and said,
“Come on. Don’t take it to heart. You learn that there are all sorts when you are a priest, and you have to accept them all.”
Father Ray looked at Liza’s downcast face as she and Lisbet were leaving, and he squeezed Liza’s shoulder saying,
“Don’t take on so. It’s okay. And I will get my candlesticks back one day. She usually brings them back.”