“Where’d you get your Delft plates? They’ll look lovely on your walls. The windmills are so quaint,” Gracie was helping me unpack moving boxes.
“They’re from my mother-in-law,” I said.
“You’re Dutch too, aren’t you?”
“Yah sure, yabetcha,” I chuckled. “Well, I’m an American descended from Hollanders, but I know what you mean.”
“These plaques are cute.” Gracie inspected them.
“You mean the one that says, ‘If ya ain’t Dutch, ya ain’t much?’”
“Uh huh, and this one…‘Ve gets too soon olt und too late schmart.’ Too funny.”
I rolled my eyes.
“How’s your writing going?” she asked.
“Good way to change the subject,” I said. “You’re in my story for the weekly challenge.”
“I am? What’s the topic? Gorgeous women of maturity?”
“Ha ha. No, it’s the United Kingdom.”
“Yah sure, yabetcha. Those silly plaques are in it too.”
“Wait! I’m confused. What do these,” she gestured, “have to do with Great Britain?”
“Glad you asked,” I replied mischievously. “And delighted to tell you.”
Gracie’s eyes widened. “I love your stories! We needed a break anyway. Where’s your coffee maker?”
With mugs in hand, I began.
“I grew up on a farm surrounded by farmers descended from Dutch people; I felt we were just the opposite of that plaque there. Dairy farming? Pee-yew, now there’s a smell to be proud of. I also decided that Dutchmen never got too soon olt enough to even see schmart! I vowed I’d never marry one. A dumb Dutchman, I mean.”
“I heartily wished to somehow discover that my ancestry lay in a more romantic realm, specifically the British Isles, especially Ireland or Scotland. Stories of little Dutch boys with their fingers in the dike? Windmills and wooden shoes? Pft! To a romanticist, how could they compare with the charm of Irish kings and queens and Scottish moors, King Arthur…knights…Robin Hood…merry men? My longing for romance wasn’t met in the cloddish ignoramuses my Dutch heritage had passed down.”
Understanding, Gracie nodded.
“I’ll always remember reading The Fighting Prince of Donegal in sixth grade and from then on my favorite stories were set in the United Kingdom. Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Rebecca and the works of Charles Dickens took me to the land of my preferred background. Funny thing…I don’t know much of that fair land’s real history. I’ve forgotten what we covered in high school.”
“At our age, who hasn’t?” Gracie shrugged one shoulder.
“One part that I do know did have an impact on my childhood spiritual development,” I said.
Gracie asked, “How’s that?”
“Well, back in the early 1800’s dissatisfaction with the Church of England was on the rise. Dissenters felt that Biblical traditions were being misapplied and even forsaken. Some of the dissenters who formed groups outside of the Church of England tended to be too strict about who could join. So trying to find a way for all Christians to fellowship together and at the same time adhere to a holy and pure form of worship, other groups began meeting in homes to study the Bible. Their emphasis was on gathering in the Lord’s name only, rather than under any denomination. It was a simplistic order based on New Testament church principles. The first meeting of this nature in England was in Plymouth. Since the men often called each other brethren, outsiders of the movement labeled them Plymouth Brethren.
“One leader you might recognize was John Nelson Darby, an Anglo-Irishman, the father of Dispensationalism. Groups of believers in England, Scotland and Ireland met regularly unbeknownst to each other but eventually they connected. Their teachings and ways spread to America. My family attended one of these assemblies.”
“Very interesting!” Gracie said. “You aren’t associated with them anymore though, are you? And do you still romanticize about Ireland?”
I shook my head. “I was searching for more joy and freedom in my life and worship expression than was available there. But I’ll always be grateful that through them I first became friends with Jesus. Now I joyfully worship Him with people like you, Gracie. As for romanticizing? What better country than Heaven?”
We hugged and sat momentarily in comfortable silence.
“Hey, back to earlier; you’re married and your last name’s Dutch, right?” I could tell Gracie thought she had me.
“Yes, to both questions but before you get on me, let me make it clear. I didn’t break my vow to never marry a dumb Dutchman. I married a smart one instead!”
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