Mr. Jenny was distracted trying to take pictures of a coffee-colored stream churning under medieval trees, so I walked ahead.
Across a narrow, ancient stone bridge.
Around a bend in a road hedged with ferns and fuschia.
Until I stopped in my tracks.
And caught my breath in disbelief at a tiny, ancient stone church nestled into the small glen of verdant greenery that was the rural Irish countryside.
Beyond the welcome of an open rusted iron gate I saw her…gathering boxwood and hydrangeas the color of sunset and mid-day. She looked up from her lovely task and saw me. “Welcome, come in.” I walked across the gravel of the driveway with a huge smile on my face. She reached out from her bouquet and we shook hands.
“Boxwood. Hydrangea. What a bounty!”
“Oh, ‘tis, ‘tis. And I am Anne.”
“And I am Jenny,” I replied.
We continued to smile at each other in that silly way you smile at a loved one who’s been gone from your sight for too long. Eventually Mr. Jenny wandered into the churchyard and joined us. He raised his eyebrows at me in question. I introduced them and offered to carry the flowers.
Anne declined but invited us into the church.
It was ancient. And lovely. The dark oak gated pews gleamed with care. The wide plank floors were swept clean but sprinkled here and there with sky blue and pink hydrangea petal confetti.
I stood in front of the altar. I felt the history and the love and the pain and the blessings the little church held. I felt the peace the little church offered to me and I let it soak into my soul.
My soul has been a bit bruised lately. Trying to find solace has been exhausting work with painful introspection often soothed only by music.
So even though I heard the murmur of conversation between Anne and Mr. Jenny, I began singing. Amazing Grace.
Anne came and stood beside me. I turned my tear wet face toward her. I felt no shame or embarrassment to be crying in an old stone church in the Irish countryside in front of a woman I’d never met before.
We stood together.
Shoulder to shoulder.
Kindred hearts joined by chance.
I don’t know how long we stood, but finally Mr. Jenny joined us. “We need to get going,” he said.
“Wai! Before you go let me show you the stables,” Anne said.
We had a whirlwind tour of the stable and some weathered tombstones and explored the nooks and crannies of the old church.
“Tis wishing I am that I had some milk so I could give you coffee,” Anne said sweetly.
‘Tis wishing I was that she did have milk, because Mr. Jenny finally insisted it was time to go to meet our Grandlittles after school.
Anne and I faced each other and embraced. “We are kindred spirits,” Anne told me solemnly. I nodded. It was true. I don’t know how, but it was true.
As we started to walk back up the church driveway, Anne called after us. “Come back on Friday night. We’re having a little concert here. Come back and see us on Friday night at 7.”
Mr. Jenny took my hand as we walked away through the rusted gates, around the bend and back across the beautiful stone bridge.
I squeezed his hand tightly in return.
And felt very blessed to have met Anne in her little Irish church.
This little story is linked to Alphabe-Thursday's letter A. To read other A offerings, just click here.