"Prayer is not an old woman's idle amusement.
Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action."
Some years ago, I was driving down Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, NY
on a weekday afternoon, when I felt an unexpected urge to pray.
It moved over me...like a cloud blocking the sun.
It was palpable, unbidden, unexpected...what the old ones would have
called 'a prayer burden'.
I didn't understand what the prayer was about or who it was for.
While I fumbled, not knowing how to pray, the feeling kept growing stronger...even urgent.
It was then that I remembered that some prayers are without words,
but with sighs and groanings for what cannot be uttered.
My dam felt like it was about to burst, so I let the tears stream down
my cheeks...tears that flowed on and on.
They intensified, painfully now.
I broke out in sobs...great heaving sobs.
I felt an almost unbearable sadness. There was nothing I could do
to stop crying. I was caught up in a deep pain that wasn't mine.
It was overwhelming and tears came in torrents.
It felt like the pain of the world was racking my body.
I wailed and cried out, finally unable to drive safely.
I had just enough presence of mind to maneuver the car out of
the heavy traffic. I was able to slow down.
I meandered through brownstone neighborhoods looking for a place
the car ...some unobtrusive spot so I could let this run its course.
I tried to find a quiet spot to park, but there were people everywhere.
Several tries later, I spotted a long expanse of red brick without windows.
I had found my place finally...
I parked under the shadow of some large trees and bent down in the
front seat in an effort to go unnoticed.
I was finally free to let the raging pain and the racking sobs come unhindered.
I was in a whirlwind of pain and sorrow.
It lasted another half hour or so and then the strange burden
began to slowly let up.
It was as if I had been in another world and was slowly being released and being returned to the present one.
It was a hard re-entry. I was disoriented and raw.
Slowly I came around, moving my body to get the feeling of 'me' back.
I looked in the mirror. I looked as though I had come from another realm.
I wiped my face and combed my hair, trying to get back to something close
to normal. I hoped no one had seen me.
Finally, I dared to look up and survey my surroundings...just in time to see
a man whirl out of the building I was parked in front of.
He was clad in the Eastern European suit and hat of a Hasidic Jew.
He had a long dark beard and curled forelocks.
I could only hope that he hadn't seen me.
He was as startled as I was as he rounded the corner just as I looked up.
Our eyes met briefly, yet deeply and with an unmistakable impact.
He was wiping tears away, his face and eyes swollen like mine.
He had just come from prayer...
Grandma in the Sky with Diamonds
Prayer is not an old woman's idle amusement.
Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.
Cape Breton Island
I walked along the rocky shoreline that afternoon just like I did most days. Crisp blue skies overhead with a soft breeze furling the whitecaps at my feet.
I had been delivered to those shores about a year earlier.
Not by my design, but by a series of compelling circumstances.
What had begun as a desperate flight from a dangerous husband in far Washington State had resolved into a life most unexpected.
I had been wrenched from my old life and fairly catapulted into a new country, a foreign culture and onto a path I would never have conjured on my own.
This new chapter of life was etched with freedom and vividly colored characters and experiences I could not have envisioned from my old vantage point.
Looking back, the very things that I thought were leading to my destruction became the seeds of a transformation and liberation completely unknowable to me prior to the actual experience.
These were my musings that day as I walked along the ocean shore…
Up ahead were the little breaker islands dotted with a few shacks.
Somewhat beyond was the fishing village of Cheticamp…an Acadian French enclave. To my right were the hills that marked the beginning of the Cape Breton Highlands and the barren inland plain.
During the short summers, it was spectacularly beautiful.
The air was so clean that the colors of the landscape shone with an intensity that hurt my eyes. It was a place of bright, boundless sky and ocean, wind and salt-twisted black spruce trees clinging to barren cliffs, boulder-strewn shores with tangles of seaweed and driftwood of seagoing dimension, enveloped by the ceaseless wind and waves.
Nature ruled over the senses in this raw and vital place…
All the dull illusions of my earlier life had been stripped away in the immenseness of this ocean and ever-changing sky and rocky land.
That was the great gift of the place despite the difficulties of life
that I experienced there.
There was, as I was to find, much hardness to struggle with.
But, for this afternoon, there was peace and the warmth of the sun
and a gentle breeze.
I thought of how much had irrevocably changed in the short span of that year.
A new home, a place of safety, friends, a kind of new family, a new way of life.
I had gone from working 2-3 menial jobs just to survive to running
a youth hostel where I hosted travelers from all over the world on this beautiful, magical island.
In the evenings, if the wind was blowing just right, I could hear bagpipes playing in the distance as the sun set.
I lived on not much money at all and yet there was always enough…
and enough to share as I was to learn bit by bit.
I felt safe in the shelter of people who knew how to live off the land and who were generous in taking me into their lives. They showed me a better way
to live while there was still time-before the old ways faded away.
Laughter and hardiness were bound up together in these rugged island people…
So many hidden kindnesses, as well...
With a smile that grew less tentative with the passage of time,
I surveyed the new life spread out before me.
At first I felt unbelievably fortunate...and thankful.
But as time went on, I began to think that perhaps I was more clever than I’d given myself credit for.
Who among my former friends could imagine a life like this, I thought.
They would surely be envious of my suddenly owning a house on 20 acres overlooking the ocean, no less! A life of such freedom, filled with amazing people and experiences. This was Cape Breton Island! A land of Scottish fiddles, ceilidhs, hidden castles, spinners and weavers, fisherman, sorcerers and storytellers…characters galore. My heart overflowed…
Clever girl- clever girl, I thought.
So many changes- so much goodness…. I shook my head as though to remind myself that this was all real.
As I ambled along the shore, I glanced up at the sky, tracing the flight
of a sea gull overhead. As my eye drifted higher, in the swirl of cloud above me,
I suddenly caught sight of 2 figures standing together in the cloud!
This was to be my first waking vision…
My heart nearly stopped beating as I recognized the people!
To the left stood my grandma Maggie and on her arm was Lyndal-
a woman from the church in the town
I had fled from a year earlier!
I stood riveted to the spot, motionless, breathless in amazement.
Then sputtering to myself…how can this be?!
The two of them looked very nearly solid.
They were standing arm in arm like the very best of friends…in a cloud…
and they were beaming down at me with such love!
So many things rushed through my mind in that moment!
I had not seen or had any contact with my grandma since I was about 10 yrs old…and precious little contact before that…
And Lyndal... who had been wheelchair-bound with polio since she was a child. I knew her as an elderly woman in the church whose home
I visited a few times just prior to leaving. She and her husband Jake had been instrumental in my escape. When I left in the middle of the night and went into hiding, I regretted that I would never see them again...that I would never be able to explain my sudden disappearance or to thank them for all they did.
No explanations were necessary in that moment.
Everything was known and clearly understood.
The look on their faces was of powerful and benevolent knowing….
They seemed to know everything about me.
I felt, as much as saw, the deep love and connection we had...
a connection that I had not known was there…
On my own, I never would have guessed such a bond existed.
As I gazed up at the 2 women, a message began to emanate from them…
I heard them say the following to me:
“You did not get here by yourself, little one.
This new life, this place of safety, this beautiful experience you are having.
YOU did not get here by yourself… but you were PRAYED for.”
I was stunned by the power and the surprising truth of those words.
I, who moments before, felt so clever and fortunate, was undone by the revelation.
Master of my fate? Creator of my world? Uh uh. Not even close…
“ But I was prayed for… “ I dropped to my knees on the shore and wept.
I had not taken their prayers that seriously… yet prayer was the thing
that most defined those two women.
I even looked down on prayer as weak and largely ineffectual.
But what I experienced in those moments of clear seeing was the
awesome power of something well beyond MY concept of prayer…
THIS was intricate, death-defying, untiring, unheralded, flying in the blind
for as long as it takes prayer.
Heart open, exquisitely stubborn and artful prayer.
Prayer…. Prayer…. and more Prayer….
I laid on the shore weeping for some time…the force of their message deeply humbling me.
Their communication was rearranging my understanding of everything
that happens down here.
I was so wrong…and so wrong-headed about it all…
I had felt so alone and uncared for…like my life had just been a series
of tragedies and mistakes…over before it had even begun in many ways.
But here were those two who cared over great distance and time
with no sure promise of any answers while in this life.
In fact, all evidence had been to the contrary…
My mind could barely comprehend their appearance and the role
they apparently played in my life, but something within me knew
it was as they said.
How insignificant they seemed in ‘real’ life.
How two such humble women could wield such power and influence
When I looked up again, they were still there- high above.
I felt another wave coming…their message was not finished…
It had only been a pause.
The last part was spoken….
”and the MOST important thing that you can do while you are on this plane
is to PRAY for people.”
With that said, they vanished from sight…
What can I say about my grandma Maggie? I hardly knew her in this life,
but in the most unexpected ways, she has had a profound impact on my life…
My last memories of her are of the sound of her soft voice as she murmured her prayers and bible readings in German, weeping softly as she prayed,
night after night, behind a curtain while our family watched TV at full blast
in the next room.
When grandma retired, she crafted a plan for her later years.
She would go to each of her 12 children in turn and spend a month with that family. She would cook, clean and help raise her grandchildren.
When our turn came, we kids were excited at the prospect of her visit.
Frankly, our house needed someone like her to break up the tension.
My folks seemed to dread her coming, however.
In fact, her arrival was a mixed blessing
Her stern German countenance and the force of her personality were at odds with my folks attitudes. They butted heads from the start.
Grandma was an old-fashioned German Lutheran at the time, though I suspect she sprang from sterner roots. TV was off-limits, children were taught to behave,
biblical advice was doled out unsparingly, much was frowned upon… She came as a bit of a shock to me, but I kind of liked her.
I knew she meant well in all she did and said.
There was some kindness behind those earnest admonitions.
Grandma just took some getting used to…
She was as energetic as my mom was listless, and soon every surface
in the house was spotless and well-ordered.
And the food! She was always cooking when she wasn’t cleaning
and we never ate better.
All kinds of traditional German fare…kuchen, spaetzle, cabbage and noodles.
Despite that, she grated on my folks’ nerves pretty quickly and they soon decided that 1 month was 3 weeks too long for her to stay.
There was a brief attempt at negotiation wherein she was not allowed to interfere with their parenting and she was NOT allowed to talk religion with us. As for TV, my folks turned the TV on at full blast just to spite her.
It was war.
Soon she was consigned to her room until travel arrangements could be made. There, behind a curtained-off bedroom, she prayed in German …
her tears mingling with her prayers. It was her only recourse.
That, tearfully, was the last of Grandma. I was old enough to know that things were not being handled well and I had a certain foreboding about the karmic lesson that would be played out in time over my mom’s rejection of her mother. That was the last time I ever saw my grandmother in this life.
I was 10.
Lyndal was a gentle soul. She and her husband Jake were mainstays in the small conservative church I attended as a new believer.
I had recently married the pastor’s son and was embarking on a new chapter
of life. It was not the path that I wanted or had planned for myself, however…
When I was 18 years old, I met a preacher’s kid with a troubled past.
A friend dropped him on my doorstep in the middle of the night after he overdosed on drugs, hoping that I would help. It took 3 days to nurse him through a comedown from amphetamines and to get him on his feet…
and on his way, but at that point he was reluctant to leave.
Once he recovered, he claimed me as his rescuing angel…a gift sent from God.
I tried to help a little more…and a little more and before long, found that I was in over my head. He threatened to take his life if I sent him away.
Before long, I was manipulated into a relationship and then a marriage by his folks, who cared less about what was actually going on than what it would do to their Godly reputation if their son was found to be 'living in sin'.
Once the marriage was secured, his folks began to share bits of disturbing information about their troubled son. He was bi-polar, a musical savant, brilliant, volatile, unstable since early childhood. He had been in therapy much of his life with little effect. He was a charming pathological liar.
He vacillated between extremes of religiosity and darkness.
He used drugs off and on…more on than off, as time passed.
I worked 2-3 jobs to support him while he couldn’t /wouldn’t work.
His threats of suicide if I left him or revealed what was going on behind closed doors, eventually escalated to threats of homicide...my family and his…
if I left. I was trapped in an abusive and increasingly dangerous situation.
His family, friends and church were powerless to help.
Toward the end of our 3 yrs. together he made many attempts on my life.
Our conservative church believed marriage was ‘until death do you part’.
I was going under for perhaps the last time and fully expected my life to end tragically when something fateful happened.
One afternoon when I had a couple of hours free between jobs, my feet found their way to Jake and Lyndal’s home. I hardly knew them, so it was odd that I went there at all.
By this time, I was so isolated and exhausted that the only things I managed to do were work and sleep. I was barely keeping it together.
As if in a daze, I knocked on the door and Jake answered, announced their unexpected visitor and invited me in. Lyndal sat up in her wheelchair and smiled as I entered their modest living room. Jake went to the kitchen to prepare tea for ‘us girls’.
Lyndal had been wheelchair-bound most of her life due to polio as a young girl. Her life revolved between church and home. Not much of a life, I thought, but she bore it without complaint.
Lyndal sat across from me as we waited for the tea to cool a bit, appraising me with a kind eye. Then something strange happened…
The next thing I remember was suddenly waking from a deep sleep.
I had been out cold, stretched out on her couch. Startled, I jumped up, looked at my watch. and saw that I had just moments to spare to get to work on time! It happened so fast that I never touched my cup of tea.
I apologized profusely on the way out, embarrassed that I had slept through our visit.
I remember Lyndal sitting calmly across from me, a soft smile on her face.
Three times I visited her like this and each time I fell into the same deep sleep as soon as the tea cups were set before us.
Was I that exhausted? I was…but there was a strange quality to the sleep
that I couldn’t define. We never spoke…not once.
Each time, Lyndal showed no surprise…just a kind and wise smile.
On that 3rd and final time, however, I found myself searching her face.
There was something different in her quiet gaze. Though it made no sense
to me, I could have sworn that she knew everything about what I was going through.
All the pain and ugliness…all the terror and danger that was hidden from view.
“She knows.” I could feel it in my bones and I felt that she had been praying for me the whole time that I slept.
I was so ashamed of what my life had become. There was no way out.
She smiled gently as I left.
A couple of weeks later, on a Sunday evening, I received a call from Jake and Lyndal. They invited me to their house for coffee and cake… just something simple.
I was surprised at the invitation. I hoped my husband might let me out of the house for something as harmless as coffee with an old couple from the church. He did…
Before long I was sitting at their kitchen table with them.
After a bit of chit-chat and a word of prayer before eating,
Jake carried a well-worn Bible to the table.
The two of them looked at me a bit conspiratorially and began our talk
with a gentle remark.
“Now you know we love the church and we respect the pastor’s preaching,
but you might not want to let on that we had this little talk this evening.”
With that, they commenced to lead me through a bible study regarding marriage, and more particularly, divorce. Verse by careful verse, they relayed the whole of scripture to me on that subject. “What GOD has joined together, let not man put asunder.” “Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, commits adultery against her.”
We discussed the marriage vow, with its phrase “till death do us part.”
“ But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such [cases]: but God hath called us to peace.”
Every verse was reviewed.
Then they began to reason with me concerning the circumstances of my situation. They knew that God had not brought us together in marriage,
but that I had been coerced by he and his parents.
They were bent on having their way and taking advantage of my naiveté.
The church family chimed in, adding weight to the plan.
So many people had ‘heard from God’ that we should be joined in marriage that my own voice hardly mattered. I was so young in my faith that I trusted their experience and doubted my own sense of what was good.
My husband had cheated numerous times, yet our own marriage had never been consummated, though he raped me twice prior to the marriage.
I had been admonished to forgive him repeatedly and to suffer as a believing wife.
As for the ‘till death do us part” aspect, Jake and Lyndal said it was not God’s will for me to die, but to live, and that our church’s teachings on submission were only half right at best.
Somehow they knew that the only thing holding me back from escaping was a fear of God...and that my fear was based on false premises and misuse of scripture teachings. Following their gentle reasoning, I was able to see clearly that I was free of blame and responsibility for him. I had done all and more that I could do to help him.
In fact, I was free to leave.
That little conversation rocked my world. For the first time in 3 yrs I felt a sense of hope...and a bit of spiritual sanity, as well.
I didn’t know as I left them that night, that I would never see them again...
Other forces were at work. Just 72 hours later, the preacher’s son blew up one more time and struck me a blow that was intended to snap my neck.
As I staggered to rise from the floor, something took hold of me and bolted me upright.
I heard a calm, strong voice inside that said “Act crazy!! Now!!!”
Rather than cowering in tears and pleading with him as the submissive Christian wife, I screamed and pounded his chest, something I would not have dared to do before.
He backed off, surprised for a moment and cruelly amused by my actions.
That moment gave me the tiny advantage I needed.
In that split second, I bolted for the door and ran. There was no way I could outrun him, but I saw bushes out of the corner of my eye and ducked behind them.
He roared past me like an enraged animal. Once he was well past me, I slipped out and ran for my life. A woman, an acquaintance came to mind who lived on the edge of town. I made it to her place, borrowed $20 and took the 1st bus to anywhere.
It was a harrowing series of escapes as he found me repeatedly over the next few months, but I finally made it across the border to Canada...and to safety.
Cape Breton was the last stop on that trail of escape...
That vision in the clouds of Grandma Maggie and Lyndal reshaped my life.
In the aftermath of that powerful experience, I realized that nothing in life
was as I assumed it to be.
The whole framework of existence as I knew it, was in question.
All my priorities were re-arranged.
The MOST important thing I could do while here?
On this ‘plane’?
Prayer suddenly seemed like the engine that ran the universe.
My head reeled with questions!
My first question was “What was Lyndal doing out of her wheelchair?!”
I was totally stumped on that one...
For the next several weeks I tried to figure that part out... without success.
Then, a 2nd question hit me! “Wait a minute! What were the two of them doing together?!”
They had not known each other in this life...or had they?!
And the best friend piece? It didn’t add up, yet there it was!
I saw it. I certainly felt it.
Round and round I went. I racked my brain for answers....
In real life, Lyndal could never have stood unassisted.
As for her knowing grandma Maggie, much less, intimately, that was hardly likely.
Lyndal almost certainly never left her small town in Washington state and my grandma never came to see us after the dreadful fallout some 14 years earlier.
No... It just didn’t add up at all!
Many months passed before the last question could be brought to me...
Quite unexpectedly, one last thought floated gently into my mind one day...
A still, small Voice whispered “Those women are still alive...”
WHAT? How could THAT be?! Living people don’t show up in visions...
or DO they?
Oh no no! This is WAY too much! Impossible!
My belief structures were toppling...
So what was that vision?
What IS a vision anyway?
My sense was that there are visions...and there are VISIONS.
This was in full daylight, clear and nearly solid.
They looked like themselves, though maybe with more vitality.
This was so powerful and real...not hinted at...lasting for a period of time. There was no reconciling it in my mind. I grew weary with the effort.
The effect remained...true and strong, however.
I knew that I would never look at little old ‘prayer warriors’ (as the church called them) the same way again. Those women were AWESOME presences.
They brought much needed correction to me...and they gave me my life’s mission early on...with a mere sentence.
My poor poor brain... wasn’t life becoming strange enough?
I knew that I would have to find out...to verify the information.
Through a roundabout inquiry, I found that Jake and Lyndal were still very much alive and some time afterward, a trusted family member verified that grandma was still alive.
38 yrs later, I was led to North Dakota for a Native American powwow. Along the way, it occurred to me to try to find her final resting place. With much help from Spirit, I did find it. Maggie lived on for nearly 20 more years.
The Scottish woman
"Five foot nuthin' with me hands straight up!" she exclaimed in her enchanting Scottish brogue during our introduction.
What this feisty woman may have lacked in stature, she more than made up for in quality of spirit!
I was in the early stages of the hero's journey.
She, unwittingly, was one of my first Way-showers.
I met her through her son, who backpacked his way to a hostel
on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.
I was new in my walk with God and had little, if any, fellowship.
Jim was a well-spoken young man soon to enter seminary training.
We had some great talks during his visit.
I remember him saying: "You should meet my mum! I am nothing compared to her!! Why not stop by if you're ever in Toronto?
You're welcome to spend the night with us! You really should meet her!!"
A few months after he left, I did have an occasion to visit Toronto on my way out west. In the intervening time, life had presented me with an opportunity...and a quandary. I had taken a proverbial leap of faith and had offered to buy an old farmhouse...on a hunch, mind you.
What had begun as a visit left me with a desire to live there and perhaps do some good. I found myself in a beautiful place, but it was an isolated,troubled and repressed community.
I had been staying as a guest in the old farmhouse and it wasn't long before
I had a living room full of young people needing a safe stranger to talk to.
Word spread and more people came, young and old.
When I left with the approach of winter, I promised the owner of the house that I would be back in 2 months with the cash to buy it. It was a rash promise but it tumbled out of my mouth quite inexplicably.
I was at a loss as to how I would pull this off. I had no job, no savings,
no well-to-do relatives or friends that would loan me the money.
I was a hard worker and frugal, but it wasn't likely that I could do it
And so, it was in this frame of mind that I met Jim's mom...
She was a force, now! Of staunch Scottish Presbyterian stock,
she was a walking Epistle. I loved her from the start!
We hit it off and soon we were deep in spiritual conversation.
I entrusted her with my dilemma.
Well, much to my chagrin and surprise, there was no tea and sympathy
to be had from her. She sized the matter up pretty swiftly and proceeded
to deliver a serious piece of advice.
"If ye want the good Lord's help, then you tell your needs to HIM
and Him alone!
And don't you be telling another living soul about it!!
Don't you so much as breathe a drop of it to anyone!
You just keep it to yourself. Only you and God need to know.
Make your prayer to Him and trust Him with all your heart.
Then you WAIT on Him patiently. Wait as long as you have to!
And, by the way, don't you be lifting a finger to help God out,
because He doesn't need your help!
And THEN, when your answer comes, you'll know where it came from!"
She meant every bit of what she said, too!
She had the power of absolute conviction.
It was a heavy piece of advice...not very practical in the 'real world'.
I couldn't even begin to implement it.
The problem was that her words had carved their way into me.
I couldn't escape, ignore or negotiate with her stance,
nor could I raise myself to that level of faith.
I left with her words reverberating uncomfortably inside me.
My mind raced, recoiled and tried to make sense of her pronouncement.
When I arrived at my western destination, try as I might, I just couldn't
do it...any of it! So I told everyone! I asked for help in every direction!
I worked 3 jobs, saved and scrimped. I tried to help God out in every way possible. I violated repeatedly every part of her advice.
I wrestled with those principals night and day. They were ever before me.
I was plagued by her words. My life was hard enough, I thought without these extra challenges. "How hard does Christianity have to be?!" I whined.
When it was time for me to return to Cape Breton, I paid my bills and found
I was far short of my goal. In the final tally, most of my money had gone for basic living expenses. I had enough left over to buy a bus ticket east and very little more. It would have been very easy to get sucked back into the life I was trying to leave behind.
One bright note, however, was that my boss had given his life to the Lord.
That story deserves a mention...
I was the only employee of a fledgling backpack manufacturer...head seamstress.
My new boss was a young pony-tailed entrepreneur. As a cash-strapped
start-up, the company was housed in an old downtown warehouse
in a run-down part of Portland. It was cold, damp, drafty, dimly lit.
It was a cavernous old sweatshop that had seen better days.
There were broken windows, scurrying things and the ghosts of former workers. I was happy to have the job, however, and the peace of being
the only one on the workfloor. I had plenty of thinking to do.
I read my Bible during breaks, half-entranced by its message and the effect it was having on me. I was straining to grow and in no little distress about my attempt to go back to Cape Breton.
I was desperate, in doubt of my sanity and not very happy.
I was taking a big gamble on the Unseen.
After a couple of weeks, the boss invited me for coffee..."Just to get to know you better." We enjoyed our conversation and got together a couple more times. Then there was dinner and a movie.
That was followed by an invitation to his apartment for tea.
I took a deep breath, wondering what was going on.
He was a safe and gentle soul, but in need of something connected with me.
That night, he swallowed hard and said "There is something about you...
I have been watching you for weeks as I pass your workroom.
You exude a joy and happiness that I have never seen. I make excuses to walk by your work station all day long. I swear I see a glow around you!
That's why I have been asking to spend time with you.
I want what you have!"
I was dumbfounded! I never would have guessed that I was giving off anything of the kind. I was stressed and distressed.
If anything, I would have thought he was seeing someone quite unhappy.
There was only one answer to that... Christ...in and around me.
I told him that I had surrendered my life to Him...and that it was changing me in ways I could never have imagined.
He then asked if he could hold my hands. I nodded yes.
He took my hands and knelt in front of me.
I closed my eyes and waited-not sure what was happening.
A few moments later, I felt his hot tears falling on my hands. He was sobbing. He asked me to pray for him
I said a plain little prayer, but he was already experiencing what he sought.
He became a changed man from deep inside. He was shining now himself!
The following week, he proposed marriage.
I had to tell him that I would be leaving soon for Cape Breton,
and that, while flattered, I knew that my path led elsewhere.
He promised me a comfortable life and asked me to reconsider.
I know he hoped I would fail and have to return.
I knew it was time to leave before things got out of hand.
ANSWERED PRAYERS......Josie and Julie
As I said, I was woefully short of money despite all my efforts.
Altogether I needed $4000. After all my bills were paid, I had $219.....
after all that effort and distress.
I wanted to return so badly... I wanted to make it real, not a fantasy experience followed by a return to my old life.
I packed my bag...
I headed to the bus station...full of fear and doubting my sanity, mind you.
I had a final test of faith as I stood at the bus station ticket counter.
I could buy a one-way ticket for $200 or I could purchase a 30 day pass
That way, I reasoned, if things didn't work out, I would have safe passage back. Odds were good at that rate.
But a sterner part of me called me on my dishonest approach.
Either I was all in or I was out.
This wasn't the kind of thing to play games with.
So I paid the extra dollar for the one way ticket and boarded the bus,
hoping for the best.
Five bone-weary days later, I disembarked in Halifax and stretched
my legs fully for the 1st time. It was December in Nova Scotia
and much colder than I had anticipated. My coat and boots were far from adequate!
When I got to the end of the bus line, I still had to hitch-hike
the last 250 miles to my final destination.
There was no time to waste...days were short and travelling slow
through the hilly terrain of the island.
Winter.…Cape Breton style… was more than I'd bargained or prepared for.
I finally made it to the house just before the sun went down.
I climbed the hill, weary but grateful to have arrived.
As I got closer and caught sight of the place, I gasped in shock!
I barely recognized the house I had left just 2 months ago!
The storms had already broken out most of the windows and the front door hung forlornly open on a single rusted hinge.
I stepped inside, remembering with dismay, that there was no electrical service and no wood for the stove. As I stepped inside the house,
I promptly fell flat on my rear. I scrambled to get up, only to slip and fall again!
Apparently the roof leaked and the downstairs floors were frozen ice…
I stood up, fell down a few more times, then crawled to the kitchen to get a rock and a table knife to start chipping out a place to stand.
Pretty soon my hands were frozen and I started crying…I was such a fool!! What was I thinking?! I would surely freeze to death now!
The sun went down, I couldn’t light the lantern… and then, with clumsy, half-frozen fingers, I dropped it. There was lantern oil and glass everywhere!
That was it!!
I just laid there and bawled my eyes out in abject misery!
Surely, I had fooled myself, step by step, into this mess!
Too fanciful for my own good! This would never work...
I had done myself in...
When things seemingly couldn't get any worse, I saw headlights bumping up the gravel road to my house…
Surely I was about to get arrested for trespassing now!
An old Volkswagen came into view.
It was the old couple that had befriended me...Josie and Julie!
There could not have been more welcome faces
It seems a nosy neighbor had called them to report someone in the house. They had come to check it out.
“Debbie?! What are YOU doing HERE in the middle of winter?!”
I sheepishly told them that I had just come for a little visit.
They studied me for a long moment. (Let it be known that
I am a pretty poor liar).
"Well…you can’t stay here! You would freeze to death for sure!"
So they took me home with them to the farmhouse.
I told them I’d just be there a couple of days...just to visit, you understand. They thought that was pretty strange, but I stuck to my story.
All went well, at first, but a couple of mornings later,
I came downstairs and I could feel that something was wrong...
terribly wrong from the feel of it.
Josie and Julie were all nervous and squirrely...
not saying anything...
not looking me in the eye.
I wondered what I had done to offend them. The feeling was awful.
They went about, getting breakfast ready with none of the usual
fun banter. When all was prepared, they asked me to sit down at the table. They were edgy and distraught.
Then old Josie broke the silence.
He asked me if I needed $4000 for something.
I looked at them and burst into tears.
Well, now it went from bad to worse! They were deeply embarrassed.
I finally told them “Yes…but how did YOU know?”
They looked at each other for courage and then they told me about
an experience they'd had the night before...
They described a tall Being full of light that came into their bedroom...
an angel, they realized.
At first, they thought they were dreaming, but they'd had the same experience.
They said the angel woke them. They sat up in bed amazed.
Then the tall Being instructed them simply to give me $4000.
The angel didn’t say why. And then he vanished.
We were all shocked!
Out came the rest of the story of why I had returned in the middle of winter.
I told them about the house and how I wanted to run the youth hostel.
There was a lot of work to be done by spring opening...(was there ever!!)
I told them that the only way I could accept the money was as a loan
and that I would pay them back as soon as I could.
They said it had to be a gift. That was the angel's instruction.
I argued with them... It was VERY hard to receive...my pride was in the way...but in the end they would never accept any repayment.
What they didn’t tell me until some years later was that that $4000
was their life savings.
They set about helping me get the house fixed up for the young people
that would be coming. They wanted to do more!
And so, with their help and support, I hosted 20-40 travelers a night...
at 50 cents a night for bed and breakfast.
There were countless wonderful experiences...more than could be recorded.
It was a place where people could come rest and sort themselves out.
For some it was vacation, but for many it was more.
One of my dearest memories is recorded in the story "CLOSING TIME".
From a book of prayers 1/8/05