(Continued from yesterday.)
“In love,” Bowden said.
“How so?” Dad said.
“He was cantankerous, moody, jealous, vengeful, angry, and murderous in the Old Testament and a revealed himself by means of the love of Christ in the New Testament.”
“Oh, Bowden,” Dad said. “That is a worn out argument easily parried.”
“Then do so,” Bowden said.
“It’s really coming down to this isn’t it,” Dad said. “It is your faith that is week.”
“You are the arrogant one,” Bowden said. “But since you brought it up, I have no need to counsel with a farmer.”
“Nor a Jewish carpenter,” Dad said.
“But God has changed,” Bowden said.
“What is to happen to all the wicked?” Dad said, “according to the New Testament. And mind you, there is as much said in the New Testament about the destruction of life.”
“Than God is not love?” Bowden said.
“There!” Dad said. “That is your question.”
“You think you have one up on me don’t you, farmer,” Bowden said.
“Ah, farmer is it.” Dad said. “There is another rub. Your words betray an envious heart.”
“I don’t know why I come out here?” Bowden said.
“Stimulation,” Dad said. “You are lonely. You’ve always been lonely. You have no one to stimulate your apathetic faith or the lukewarm doubt that grows in you. This is a feast for you.”
“More like a snack,” Bowden said.
“It eats at you, Bowden,” Dad said. “People come into you and ask questions. You speak to them in intellectual terms. They are terms vague at best. You tell them to have faith and not to question, but as you sit there on the ground and cannot tell me that God is love.”
“Of course I can’t!” Bowden screamed. “I’m dying!” Bowden began to sob.
Dad slowly eased from the tractor and sat beside Bowden. Dad pulled him into his chest as Bowden wept.
“Please say a prayer,” Bowden said.
“You pray,” Dad said. “I think God wants to hear you and I think for the first time in a long time it will be a good prayer.”
“Dear God,” Bowden said. “Why me, why me? I have…” Bowden stopped.
“God knows what is in your thoughts,” Dad said. “There is no shame in telling him.”
“I was going to tell him I have served him,” Bowden said. “But I haven’t. My life has been serving myself. I think you are the only one who knows that. I can tell by the contempt you have for me.”
“I apologize, Bowden,” Dad said. “I hide my feelings with contemptuous words. I deeply care for you. If I didn’t I’d have thrown you off this farm long ago.”
“My life has been full of hypocrisy,” Bowden said. “I have walked people up to and through death with words I did not believe or trust. I have fooled everyone except you. I can only trust you.”
“You look healthy, Bowden,” Dad said.
“Yeah,” Bowden said. “Like this black suit makes me look holy.”
“If you are to die, ole friend,” Dad said calmly and compassionately. “You will not die alone. I’ll be with you. It is a sleep, a gentle sleep it will be only a moment. When you waken I’ll still be with you. We’ll talk about God, nature, and good things, things that trouble and things that make us happy. Bowden I believe that with all my heart.”
Dad and Bowden wept together.