Chapter 13 Fran: Anger Is Good

Fran walked purposefully through the village hoping to hear some new gossip. She spotted Kelly, her neighbour from across the green. Fran quickly approached her but was frustrated when she disappeared into Imelda’s cabin. Not wanting to face Imelda, she walked on.

“Well, look who’s here. Come on in.” Imelda greeted her visitor in a slightly condescending tone.

“Hello Imelda,” replied Kelly, shyly.

“You’ve never yet got yourself one of our outfits, have you?” said Imelda, her hands clasped together as she looked Kelly up and down.

“That’s because you’ve always sold out before I could afford anything,” replied Kelly, meekly.

“Well, here you are, and all the new clothes are right in front of you. Why don’t you choose something, and I’m sure we can come to some arrangement.”

Kelly walked around the shop floor admiring the results of Dawn’s needlework based on Imelda’s designs.

“How about this one?” she asked, holding up a pleated skirt.

“Ah yes, I can see you wearing that around the village,” Imelda gushed with well-rehearsed enthusiasm. “So, what can you give me for it?”

Somewhere at the back of the shop Dawn cleared her throat and corrected her loudly.  “What can you give us for it?”

“Well… I think I have a full box of walnuts you can have.”

Imelda tilted her head and grimaced.

“Walnuts? My dear girl, I don’t want your walnuts. Try again.”

“I could copy out my recipe book for you?”

Imelda looked unimpressed and shook her head.

“Hmm, that doesn’t work either. I would like…”

She clicked her fingers and her eyes lit up.

“We would like you to grow rose bushes from cuttings of your pink rose and then plant and tend them in each of our gardens.”

“Roses for two gardens?” winced Kelly. “No, Imelda, that’s too much work.”

“Fine,” snapped Imelda and snatched the skirt back from Kelly.

Kelly turned and walked out of the shop, her cheeks burning.

“That horrible old cow!” she thought as she walked down the main street of the village.  “Why must life be so unfair?”

Kelly had long believed that life was against her. After her divorce in her mid-forties, she had devoted all her time and energy to her daughter, Clare. When Clare was just nineteen she had been killed by a drunken driver on a country road. The loss of her only child had torn a hole in Kelly’s soul. There was not a day in her life that she didn’t cry out with longing for her daughter. The only thing that could dull the hatred she felt for the driver was her addiction to painkillers. She had come to believe that God didn’t care about her and had died of a stroke in her early seventies.

Kelly had been welcomed by Jesus when she was raised three years previously. But however much she had wanted to like him, her resentment toward God still lingered.

Kelly found herself wondering every day why she couldn’t be reunited with Clare. This only served to fuel her distrust of God. She couldn’t understand why Jesus referred to God as ‘Papa’. That sounded far too familiar, smug even. To Kelly, God was at best a negligent father and at worst an abusive bully. However, Kelly felt lonely and desperately tried to find ways to connect with the other women in her village, but none of them wanted to hear about the hardship she had experienced. Everyone seemed wrapped up in their own concerns.

Lost in her thoughts, she didn’t hear Sylvia’s greeting from further down the path and was annoyed to suddenly find her standing in front of her.

“How are you today, Kelly?” asked Sylvia in her usual warm and genuine way.

Kelly clenched her teeth.

“Same as ever, Sylvia. I’m tired of being pissed off and I’m pissed off because I’m tired. Life is one long fucking nightmare. I hate it here and I hate everyone here. Honestly, I’d rather just be dead.”

Sylvia wasn’t surprised by Kelly’s words. Kelly was one of the few women in the village who allowed herself to be so bluntly honest.

“Come for a meal,” said Sylvia firmly. “This evening?”

Kelly agreed, as it would be a chance to let Sylvia and Carlos have both barrels of her anger and resentment.

“Ok, but you don’t know what you’re letting yourself in for!”

“Come anyway,” Sylvia replied.


Kelly lingered outside the front door for a few minutes, trying to collect her thoughts. When she knocked, Sylvia opened the door and greeted her warmly. Kelly returned the greeting but with none of the warmth.

“Try this,” said Carlos, handing her a glass. “Freshly squeezed apple juice.”

Sylvia led the way into the garden area that was bursting with colour and fragrance. The three sat at a wooden table and each took a moment to take in the sights, smells and sounds of a garden that was truly humming with activity.

“I’ve wondered for a while about how you’re doing,” began Sylvia, getting straight to the point.

Kelly folded her hands.

“Well, I can tell you it’s not what I’d hoped for,” she began. “I wanted to not exist, be properly punished or go somewhere blissful. But this? This is worse than any of those.”

Carlos sat forward and Sylvia nodded silently.

“So, yeah, not great at all. I want to leave this stupid village. It’s full of stuck-up selfish bitches!”

“You say you want ‘proper punishment’?” asked Sylvia.

“I think I probably belong somewhere a little hotter. I’m not exactly an angel. I hate God for the shitty life he gave me. I hate him for taking my daughter from me. And I hate him for all the suffering that existed in the Previous Age. Tell me, what’s the point of it all? Why create us to suffer, die, and then find there’s even more suffering on the ‘other side’?”

Sylvia and Carlos continued to listen.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake!” she exclaimed. “Have you really got nothing but silence for me?”

“Actually, we understand your anger,” said Carlos.

Kelly was surprised and sat back, her mouth slightly open.

“Yes,” added Sylvia. “Your anger is good. It’s sacred in its own way.”

“What do you mean?” 

“Your anger comes from an instinct deep within you. An instinct that pain, loss and suffering aren’t the way existence should be,” said Carlos.

“Your anger tells you that there must be another way… a better way,” said Sylvia.

“Maybe, but why doesn’t an ‘all-powerful’ God stop these bad things from happening?” protested Kelly.

“God doesn’t micromanage everything,” said Carlos.

“Yes, life is not controlled by God. In that sense, God isn’t ‘all-powerful’. Choices are ours to make. Some choices we make are for good, and some are not,” explained Sylvia. “This is because we have agency over what we do in our lives.”

“But I didn’t choose for some bastard to drive into my daughter at eighty miles per hour. And I didn’t choose to become addicted to painkillers. These things just happened to me.” Kelly’s voice was now fraught.

“I understand,” said Carlos. “But that man chose to drink and drive that night. The fault lies with him. Chaos exists, without a doubt it does, and frequently bad choices create it. But it’s in chaos that we can see how love invites us to create a new way.”

“But I couldn’t see anything,” sobbed Kelly, who by now was quivering as she wept. “I had no strength to choose anything. I was desperate. I was powerless.”

“That’s where we need help,” Sylvia said, compassionately. “And we all need help.”

“Well, you tell me who was there to help me?”

“You suffered terribly,” said Sylvia quietly.

“We are not here to tell you how you should feel or how you should understand your Previous Age experiences,” said Carlos. “Only you can come to terms with what has happened, and you have all the time you need to get there.”

“That’s right,” agreed Sylvia. “It took Carlos and I centuries to get to a point where we could understand and respond to what we were learning. And we are here to walk alongside you as you grow in your understanding too.”

“Pass me the salad,” said Kelly, changing the subject. She wiped her face with her sleeve and didn’t look at Sylvia or Carlos.

The conversation turned to gardens, what was growing where and what was starting to appear. Carlos sensitively supported the conversation while attending to the practical aspects of the meal, leaving Sylvia free to stay by Kelly’s side.

Kelly began to regret her outburst, and by the time she was leaving to go home, she had resolved to say something.

“Look, I hope I didn’t offend you with what I said.”

Sylvia waved her hands in the air. “Not at all. This is a safe place. You need – we all need – to be heard and understood.”

Kelly smiled awkwardly, still unsure whether Sylvia was just being polite.

“We both needed many, many hours of being heard and understood. You are not alone. In fact, you never need to be alone here. We are always ready to listen and to share our stories with you,” Carlos added.

“Thank you,” replied Kelly simply and stepped out of the door.

“That was good,” sighed Sylvia to Carlos as they put the dinner plates away. “She needed to voice her true feelings. It’s something we all need to do.”

“It’s interesting how some people assume we will be offended on Papa’s behalf.”

“Yes,” replied Sylvia. “As if Papa needed defending! Papa has seen and understood our feelings before we’ve even worked out what they are.”

“When we identify our true feelings and express them, it feels like a burden is lifted,” said Carlos, thoughtfully. “When we realise Papa is never angry with us for what we feel and think, we can let it all out and begin to process it.”

“I was so angry at God for all the times I was abused,” reflected Sylvia. “Not that I realised I was angry at God. I thought I was just angry at life.”

“You had every reason to be angry,” said Carlos. “You knew what was happening to you was wrong and that you didn’t deserve it. My problem was that I was numb and didn’t really feel anything for a long time.”

“You had to learn to feel again and to allow your emotions to flow. After the Great Suffering, many of us who survived became hardened and callous inside because of what we experienced.”

Carlos and Sylvia sat down, both feeling deeply for the people around them.

“One day, we will all be completely free,” smiled Sylvia. “Everyone will know the truth of who they are and how good Papa is, and everyone will be able to love their neighbour.”

“We mustn’t forget that the process is happening,” agreed Carlos. “Little by little, every day, people are learning and growing and moving towards more freedom. The God who allowed all things will redeem all things.”


Kelly tried to avoid Imelda. It made her feel worse about herself when she saw how busy and fulfilled Imelda and Dawn appeared with their clothing enterprise. She also tried to stay away from Fran, whose garden produce was clearly doing much better than hers. Fran, however, always made a beeline for Kelly to try to persuade her to let her help cultivate her strawberry plants in return for a healthy share of the crop.

“Come on, Kelly,” called out Fran, when she next caught sight of her. “Stop being so wasteful. You know that you have the only strawberry plants in the whole village. In the whole of this world for all we know! Let me come and help you get the best out of them.”

“I don’t care,” snapped Kelly. “They’re mine and besides, I am no gardener – never have been.”

“That’s why I am offering. I just want to help,” retorted Fran, her frustration rising at Kelly’s resistance.

“You know what, Fran? Mind your own business!”

They had by now reached the end of the path and Fran watched as Kelly marched off to her cottage.

“Arsehole!” exclaimed Kelly, slamming her front door shut. She made her way to the kitchen and looked out of her back window. A handful of juicy strawberries hung on one of the plants, shining in the bright daylight. Kelly went outside and without hesitation stamped on them until nothing was left but a jammy pulp mingled with dark soil.

“There you go, Fran,” she muttered.

Kelly looked down at the crushed plant. Something about the sight broke through her anger and filled her with a deep sadness. After she had lost her daughter, owning her actions was something that she had avoided. An increasing recklessness had taken hold of her, and she had used her grief and anger to excuse her behaviour.

It was a familiar cycle: anger leading to sadness, and then a defiant justification of her actions, all within a matter of moments. But this time the sadness lingered all day. That evening, Kelly came to the painful realisation that she was feeling regret, not only for her destruction of the strawberries but also, much to her irritation, for her interaction with Fran as well.


“I know what she’s doing,” complained Kelly, as she sat once again at the dinner table with Sylvia and Carlos. “She’s trying to get her hands on a cutting so she can plant strawberries in her own garden. She’s a scheming little snake!”

“Ok, but can I ask you something?” said Sylvia.

Kelly rolled her eyes. “Oh, here we go! Here comes the holy suggestion.”

“I’m not telling you to do anything. You know that’s not how this works. What I want to ask is this. What would happen if you gave her a cutting?”

“Well, then I’d play right into her hands!”

“Ok. But what is the worst that can happen?”

Kelly gathered her ammunition.

“She would always have one over on me. She’d be the one who would bring the strawberries to the market and she’d get all the glory for them.”

“Ok,” said Carlos. “We hear your concern. But I guess we would make the gentle observation that you already have the capability to grow the strawberries and bring them to the market, but you’re choosing not to.”

Kelly stared at her plate for a moment and then looked back up at Carlos.

“But I can’t grow anything. I never was a gardener.”

“Maybe in the Previous Age you weren’t. But here on the New Earth everything grows really easily, so it doesn’t need nearly as much work to produce healthy, tasty crops. You could pick those strawberries and swap them, but something seems to be holding you back. Are you sure it’s just that you don’t feel you have ‘green fingers’?”

Kelly groaned. “Why do I keep coming here?”

“Maybe deep down you enjoy it,” replied Sylvia with a smile.

Kelly by now could not repress a wry grin. She secretly felt a strange pleasure in being challenged, and that was why she kept coming back. There was something about their mealtimes together that made her feel that she was making some sort of progress. When she had spent time with Jesus after being raised, she had initially been buoyed up by his evident interest and care for her. She had felt ready to grow and embrace her new life, but this had soon been quashed by being placed in a community with other women who only seemed to want to antagonise each other. But in the past few days she had begun to feel her confidence slowly returning. It was the feeling that she could grow and change, and that maybe her experience of life right now was not going to be forever. 

Sylvia sensed it was a good moment to encourage Kelly.

“You’re doing well to keep coming back here. I know it’s not comfortable to be challenged, but you are listening and open to what we have to say. This is the way that seeds of change are planted.”

There was a hint of lightness and a new sense of purpose in Kelly’s response.

“Speaking of seeds, I think I might be planting some soon.”