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I'm most recently a writer.  In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot.  As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades.  An unwilling transplant from the South,  twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US.  Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect.  When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do.  Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!

Friday, December 16, 2016

A Valley Rise Christmas--Day Three




Continuing in Hearts Unfold, Emily returns to her home church on the arm of her godfather, Jack Deem,
and is reminded of all she has missed since she left for college.  A chance conversation also reminds her of the possibility of miracles even in the most dire of circumstances.




          
In the narthex, the smell of pine boughs and the glow of candlelight wrapped around her, drawing her in.  The sanctuary was already crowded.  Local families swelled with out-of-town guests, sleepy children in the arms of proud grandparents, several young men in uniform, their mothers or sweethearts clinging to their arms, all gathered in anticipation of the hour to come. From her seat next to Jack, she searched the familiar faces.  Down front, Sara McConnell sat between sons Peter and James.  Peter had let his hair grow longer, now that he was at college, and the blonde mane was very becoming.  He was even better looking than the last time Emily had seen him, which must have been almost two years ago.  James, home on leave from Southeast Asia, was in uniform.  Thin and deeply tanned, he looked older, and there was a tense, haggard expression on his face as he gazed down at his mother.
They’d been close friends; Peter and Emily the same age and James four years older, they had played together as children.  She’d even dated Peter briefly during their sophomore year, ending the relationship with an uneasy truce after some awkward attempts at romance.  She smiled as she recalled telling a red-faced Peter he could keep his sweaty hands to himself if that was all he was interested in.  But they had put that aside during their senior year, when she'd been struggling to adjust to life alone and James had been preparing to go overseas.  The three of them had supported each other, finding comfort in the fact they were each moving into a future filled with uncertainty.
Slipping closer to Jack, she looked around in amazement.  This gathering looked like every other Christmas Eve service she'd attended through the years.  The same smiling faces, some looking a bit frail now with age; the same murmur of voices, using every moment to visit before the first notes sounded from the organ.  There were smiles of surprised recognition, and she knew the news of her presence would spread through the congregation by the end of the service.
Behind her, a man and woman were deep in soft-spoken conversation, commenting on the artificial trees with their tiny electric candles that stood grouped behind the crèche figures at the front of the church.  The man was saying what a pity about those cedar trees.  His wife whispered, “You did your best.”
“But it's still a shame not to have real trees.  I just couldn't get to 'em before the ice came.  Guess they're still stacked up on the side of the road by the springs.  Pity, wasting all those trees.”  The woman shushed him softly.
Emily gasped at the vision of a black clad figure, sailing through the darkness and coming to rest on a nest of soft cedar branches.  She looked at Jack's profile, but he seemed not to have heard.  Could that have been what happened?  If the trees intended to decorate the church had indeed cushioned his fall, how could anyone deny Stani had been saved by an act of God?
The organ came to life, and she saw Pastor Mike step to the pulpit, raising his hands for silence.  Over the soft music, Emily listened to his warm, strong voice as he called the people to worship.
         “This is the night of our savior's birth.  Let us open our hearts in welcome as we come together to worship God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit on this most miraculous of nights.”

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