|The Country Road|
Each curve of the road grew more and more unfamiliar as Renny and his ten-year-old daughter, Ani, carried on with their stroll. Where were they? Where did this road lead? Renny was having his first weekend visit with his daughter. He and his wife Lisa had recently divorced. How could he handle just seeing his little girl only every other weekend? How many holidays would he get with her? Would he and Lisa have a difficult relationship? He had, after all, fought against the divorce. If so, how would that affect his visitation with his daughter? He felt like his life had turned into a jumble of twists and turns with nothing or no one to lead the way.
It was an ideal autumn day, the air fresh with just the right combination of warmth and coolness, the type of weather for a nice walk. He intended only a short stroll down a quaint dirt road, and then back to the car. Nothing very adventurous about that, yet all somehow had changed. The lingering question was how did they get lost? Then he recalled it was the dove that had captured his daughter’s attention.
Ani had gasped with delight, “Look Dad, it’s a dove. Let’s follow it.” Before Renny could stop his daughter, she was gone around the next turn. He had no choice but to follow her.
Around that bend everything looked unfamiliar. He knew they needed to turn back, but his daughter was intent on following the dove, “I wanna see where it goes.”
They traveled on that dirt road until nothing was recognizable. What did she find so fascinating about that bird anyway? Ani shouted, “Hey Dad, I think the dove is waiting on us." And oddly enough, it seemed to look back and patiently perch on a branch when they got too far behind, only to take off again when they neared its presence. Okay this was getting weird. It really was time to turn back.
The bird finally flew to a small cabin up ahead and again seemed to wait for them. Just as he was about to tell Ani to turn around and head back to the car, a man stepped out of the cabin onto the porch and waved. Renny could not explain why, but he felt compelled to walk to the cabin.
Yellow curtains and flower boxes dancing with brightly hued buds adorned each window. The cabin’s wood was clean and polished. He had never seen a log house with so much polished wood. A rocking chair sat to the right of the front door. Chopped firewood was stacked along the right side of the porch. And along the left side was a string of dangling glass gems swaying in the wind, and singing like the sweet notes of a music box. Whoever lived here was into glass blowing as a hobby.
The man was just as cheery as the cabin itself. He appeared to be about the age of 60. He had gray hair, beard, and mustache. He wore khaki pants and a light sweater. His smile and eyes held a quality of compassion, strength, and spunk. Renny wasn’t sure why, but he instantly trusted this stranger. He felt as if he had known this man all his life.
As he and his daughter approached the cabin, the stranger spoke a hearty greeting in his Scottish burr "Oi! Mick is ma name. Tis a pleasure to have someone visit ma humble abode. Can I help yoo? ”
“Well yes, we seemed to be lost.”
The stranger chuckled, “Aye, most people who wander ma way do that. That’s why I’m here.” He then added, “I was just having maself some Scottish coffee. Some people call it Irish coffee, but the Irish stole it from we Scotts. Before I lead yoo in the right direction, if not coffee, perhaps a cuppa tea. Surely yoo and the lass are quenched.”
Renny was thirsty. Against his better judgment, he accepted the invitation.
The man went inside briefly and came outside with two cups of hot tea. The tea tasted like nothing Renny had ever drunk. It had the perfect amount of sweetness and flavor. With each sip, he could feel a sense of peace come over him. The serenity went straight to his soul. But how could that be? “Sir, what kind of tea is this?”
“Tis a lovely mixture from my homeland. Like it?”
“Yes, very much. It gives me a wonderful feeling, as strange as that sounds.”
At that Mick smiled knowingly, “It doesna sound strange at all.”
As they were sipping their tea, Ani admired the glass trinkets. They clinked against each other as if playing a beautiful tune just for her. She sighed, “Oh these are so pretty.”
Mick responded, “Why thanks wee lass. Want one? Take two. One for yoo and one for your father. No charge.”
This excited her and she pleaded, “Can I Dad? Please, please, pretty please?”
How could Renny say no to her when she looked so adorable? And after making sure it was okay with Mick, he agreed to it. She set out picking two pieces. Her first choice was that of an angel. She caressed it lovingly and placed in her pocket. Then she picked a heart for Renny.
The moment the heart was set in Renny’s hand, he felt a tingling sensation. Holding that crystal work of art, eased his worries. This day had been one peculiar moment after another. First the tea and now the heart. He didn’t understand it but couldn’t deny he liked it. He didn’t dare put it in his pocket. Just holding it was too precious of a moment.
The three of them set out on a dirt road that stretched about eighty yards and could pass for a long driveway. Mick talked as he showed both of them all the sites. He pointed out the glorious trees embracing the road, their branches heavily laden with leaves of gold, red, and orange, like a cozy rug. The trio laughed at the squirrel that played hide and seek with them. They tossed pebbles into the babbling brook. They looked upon the crooked wooden fence and the open field with lush grass that swayed in the breeze.
Mick stopped when they reached the end where Renny’s car sat just a short distance away on the adjoining street. Had they really been that close all along, Rennie wondered.
“Well it’s been lovely," Mick said. "This is where I take ma leave.”
Renny was sad to see him go. His presence had felt as such a blessing, “Sir I appreciate everything. I’m not sure how we got so lost. I hope we can meet again.”
At that, Mick only grinned and pointed down at the heart still nestled in Renny’s hand, “Who knows. I’m always around when needed. The road we travel determines our outcome. We can travel God’s path and not lose our way. Or we can take our own journey and become misplaced. The key is to trust in God and his wise guidance with all yoor heart.” Mick smiled down at Ani. “Farewell sweet lass. Keep that childlike faith always.” He spoke to Renny again. " “Doona fret lad. Yoor wee daughter will always be in yoor life.”
Renny stood there amazed at how he knew about his dilemma. He hadn’t shared any of his problems with this kindly stranger.
“Bless yoo Renny and Ani,” Mick said.
Renny asked, “How did you know our names? We never told you.”
“God told me and he loves yoo. Let God help yoo in his own way and time," Mick replied.
In stunned silence, they watched Mick walk down the road back to the cabin. It was as if neither of them wanted to end that golden moment, and watching him amble away kept him in their lives a little longer. They would truly miss him.
When Mick reached the cabin, he stood in the doorway and waved at them. A glow surrounded him. Trying to explain the glow logically, Renny reasoned that there must be a lamp on inside the cabin. Mick then looked up at the sky as in adoration, bent his head as if in prayer, and then went inside.
Then a mysterious light shone on the old cabin and its appearance changed before their very eyes. The curtains disappeared from the windows. The flower boxes fell over, empty and lopsided, the bright flowers in them gone. The firewood disappeared, along with the rocking chair and the glass trinkets. The dove they had followed, sat perched on the front porch rail. It gazed at them for an instant longer, and then flew away up into the sky, higher and higher until it and the mysterious light were no longer visible.
Surely most people would be afraid of what had just transpired. Yet that was not the case for the Renny and Ani. They simply felt wonderment. What had just happened? Renny peered at his daughter’s beaming face, “We really did see what we saw today didn’t we? Do you believe that?”
She pulled out her glass trinket out of her pocket, “Yes, Daddy. We did. I believe Mick is an angel. I just know it. Look I still have my glass angel. And you still have your heart.”
The heart still lay in his palm like an exquisite jewel. It still tingled and eased his fears. Surely Mick had to be genuine angel if he knew about the feelings Renny had never told anyone about. That aura that had surrounded Mick was not a lamp. Of this he was certain. None of today’s events were a figment of his imagination. Mick’s words were God’s divine message for him and Ani. Everything would be okay. There was no question about it now. Renny clasped his daughter's hand with great affection. They reentered the car and drove away, knowing this magical day would always be real to them.
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