Golden filigree flowed across the cluster of rolling hills – wisps of tiny leaves fell like rain carried by the cool autumn breeze. Halos of sunlight lifted and whirled above her – there was change in the air, she could smell it. Mmmmm … I love these in-between times.
Only one road … and what a lovely road it was.
Isabella enjoyed this walk in all seasons; the white silence of winter … the budding palate of spring … the lazy song of summer … the golden rain of autumn. All year long, for almost twenty years now, this road had given purpose and meaning to her life – for she had found her niche at Susie’s Café.
The familiar chime as she opened the door brought no reaction from the ‘regulars’ gathered at the tables in the café … except Susie.
“Hey Isabella! A little late today.”
“It was so beautiful on the road I just took my time.”
“Yeah, it’s gettin pretty again. Usual?”
“Yep … wait – this mornin’s batch? Or am I gettin yesterday’s trash?”
Susie never seemed to tire of their lighthearted banter. They both chuckled at their assumed friendship, “Okay girl … now you’re gonna have to take potluck.” She winked at the customers as she picked up her coffee mug and headed for the kitchen.
Isabella saw her booth, slid in and tossed her backpack on the table. Today there were two strangers next to her who were obviously engrossed in a private conversation – a briefcase between them.
This was only one part of her ministry here. Strangers or not, there would be something to pray about today. She looked around and noticed other lives that had surely been blessed by her intercessions. Marriages, children … broken hearts and bodies – God had touched and healed for many years.
She pulled out the precious cargo snuggled deep within her backpack – swaddling blankets for babies at the Women’s Shelter in the next town.
This was the second part to her ministry. Truly a heart ministry, for no blanket left her hands without a prayer of blessing upon the life it would keep warm and safe. And maybe, just maybe … be a part of a bigger picture for some of them.
Susie brought out her specialty … warm fresh brownies and a cup of fresh brewed coffee – extra cream. “Oh Isabella … those blankets are so pretty. Your work is absolutely beautiful. They look almost done.”
“Yep, some finishing touches and I can take ‘em over. They’ll need these real soon.”
As Susie left in a twirl, Isabella inhaled the enticing aromas and leaned back closing her eyes. A few words from the strangers floated through a slit between the wall and booth …
“Connection … when will … I must …”
She sighed a prayer for the desperation that she sensed in the young man’s voice.
A sip of coffee, a bite of brownie and she picked up her needle with thread of shimmering pale yellow – baby buntings of love were almost already for their precious cargo.
Stitch after stitch weaved together each prayer for the lowered voices behind her.
Soon, she heard the squeak of red vinyl seats as the two men slid out of the booth. She could tell they shook hands as the older man promised, “I’ll do all that I can – don’t worry Stephen.”
She smiled, wondering how God was going to work this out … yet … she knew, deep down, she would never know. Have mercy on him – please Lord?
Isabella watched the two men maneuver between tables to the counter. She noticed the peculiar tilt of one shoulder on the younger one – the peculiar pucker on the tip of his right ear.
But, if anyone were watching her, they would have been alarmed at the sudden way her lips turned pale – at the way she dropped her stitching as she covered those same gaping lips. They wouldn’t have known what to make of the bewildered expression as she stared at the blanket intertwined with the young man’s jersey draped over his arm as he walked out the door.
She felt like she couldn’t move … she felt like she wanted to run … she felt … she felt … she felt the peculiar pucker on the tip of her right ear … and she hoped – maybe, just maybe …
The familiar chime lingered only a few seconds – for after all …
… there was only one road.
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