The phone stung her hand like a deadly scorpion and she almost dropped it. Quick tears threatened her eyes. “But you’re a chaplain and your job is at Fort Carson. Those soldiers need you. Oh, Phil, do you have to go?” Patience blurted all this out before she could compose herself.
“As if I had a choice,” he replied, somewhat taken aback by her fervor. “Actually, I’m excited about it. There’s greater need in Iraq than there is over here. It’s the chance I’ve been waiting for. And I’ll go to whatever mission field I’m called to. You ought to know that.” His voice took on a note of reproach and Patience bit her lip and began trembling. A terrible tightness took hold of her chest.
“I can’t believe killing others is God’s work. It’s a lost cause going to that part of the world. I wish this terrible war would end.” Her voice was loud now, almost strident, and met with a dead silence on the other end of the line.
Then, “I’ll see you tomorrow night,” he almost whispered. That ended the conversation. Afterwards, Patience wished with all her heart that she could take back the bitter words. What her heart was telling her, and what she needed to verbalize, was how much she loved and needed him.
They’d never spoken of love to one another. Their dates had been fun times--always casual--and the good night kiss they’d shared had been warm but quick. She always wished he wasn’t so self-controlled, so serious about his profession. He didn’t know what she was feeling inside, how every touch of his hand gave her an electric shock. And, oh, how she melted within whenever she felt his intense blue eyes upon her. He was so handsome and so perfect for her.
After a sleepless night, full of self-examination and bitter tears, Patience donned sweats, hopped into her car and drove to the Garden of the Gods. She had an intense workout, covering five miles of paths between towering red rocks. Clocking herself, she found that she’d beaten her previous time by a full five minutes. Exhausted then, she collapsed onto a handy stone bench, welcoming the sudden chill of its surface.
The sun had ascended the mountains as she ran. Now she watched as they lighted up, coming to life in astonishing shades of pink and coral. She caught her breath and marveled anew at their beauty while her thoughts returned to Phil. Would he go away and forget all about her? Tears began to flow and she brushed them away with an impatient hand. No! I can’t let that happen! Dear God, if you’re up there, speak to me!
Defiantly, she raised misty eyes to the sky and spied an eagle circling the rocks above her head. Another eagle followed close behind. While she watched, the two of them made a perfect figure eight formation. Then, locking talons and feet together, they turned head over heals above her in a majestic embrace. Her mouth dropped open in amazement as into her head popped the words of Isaiah 40:31: “But those who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”* Was this God‘s way of reassuring her that everything would be alright? In the silence of the beautiful garden, her soul began to absorb some of the peace.
* * * *
When they met that night, Phil and Patience were unusually quiet, almost shy with one another. Gone was the feeling of camaraderie they usually experienced together. They ordered dinner at The Cliff House. Then, coughing self-consciously, Phil reached into his pocket for something. Flipping the lid, he exposed a glittering diamond of modest proportions and slid it across the table to her. “Pat, I wish I hadn’t waited so long to tell you this, but, umm…I love you and I don’t want to lose you. I’d like to think you’ll be here when I come back. Will you be my wife?”
Patience was laughing and crying at the same time now as she slipped the ring on her finger--a little bit loose. “Will I ever? Of course I will. What took you so long?” With a cry of delight, she left her seat and planted a big kiss on his waiting lips. She fell into his lap with a sigh.
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