September 1925, London.
The words of Rebecca’s father stung her ears. She would never be allowed to see James again, far less marry him.
‘But why?’ she had begged to know, as the love she felt for her father and James were thrown against each other in her heart, the clash of duty and love spilling as salty tears from her eyes. But no tears would move Mr. Bracknell to either explanation or pity and he had resolutely shut Rebecca’s bedroom door and turned the key, lest she fail to understand his meaning.
‘Willful child,’ he had muttered as he stalked down the stairs to his study.
Rebecca could neither move nor stand still and the emotional frustration tingled in her feet and shook at her torso. She was sure – absolutely sure – that God had meant for her and James to be married. Neither was she alone in this conviction. Her eyes glanced over at her desk, and she saw the bible James had given her next to the letterpad she had acquired only that morning.
She took up her bible and fell to her knees and remembered then what James had said when it became apparent that her father would not give his blessing to their union.
‘Pray in faith, my darling. If the Lord means for us to be together, He will provide the way.’
So Rebecca took a deep breath to try to still herself and quiet her mind.
‘Lord,’ she whispered. ‘Help me. Help me to understand.’
Outside of her bedroom the early evening sun threw dappled light upon the emerald grass through the lush leaves of the cedar trees; a thrush lit upon the windowsill outside Rebecca’s room and sang sweetly to the sunset on the horizon. And Rebecca felt the stillness envelope her heart, and comfort surround her like an embrace.
Then the jumble of confusion cleared in her mind to be replaced with such clarity of thought that it made her gasp. The Lord spoke softly into her spirit and she understood in a moment – her father felt threatened by James. He was afraid to loose his daughter forever. The Lord spoke softly into her spirit and Rebecca saw the way, understood that with time and patience her father’s heart would be changed.
‘Yes Lord,’ she whispered. ‘You are my God who endures forever, and in faith I can endure this in you. Oh Lord.’ A small sob escaped once more. ‘Keep James safe for me. Help him to endure too.’
Rebecca arose and sat down at her desk, drawing paper and pen to her as lovingly as if she were drawing James himself into her embrace. She wrote of her love for him, of her father and what she had she had felt in her spirit as she had prayed to God – the way that He was providing just as James had said He would.
Searching for a way to end the letter, her eyes lit upon the slim green leather volume that James had given the previous month; it was a beautiful volume dedicated to the love letters sent by some of the most famous poets of eighteenth and nineteenth century. She pulled it from the shelf and found almost instantly the words she was seeking.
But that God is stronger than we cannot be a bitter thought to you, but a Holy thought, while He lets me, as much as I can be anyone’s, be yours. Elizabeth Barrett to Robert Browning, September 1845.
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