[January 18, 2009...
...After a late-afternoon stroll along the West Pier... Fingal, Ireland... next to the Howth Train Station...]
We only duck inside the pub to wait out the driving rain. And wait for the next train, not due for another 36 minutes.
And you know those apps you can download and then listen to the pre-recorded cacophony of a coffee shop or cafeteria at lunch time? Is there one with a jazzy nightclub ambiance, too? Well, sort of like that. But not.
Sultry warmth embraces us as we step across the threshold. A few people nod and smile at us as they tip back a gulp of dark ale. Wood pops and crackles in a brick fireplace at the end of the room.
And it takes you back a bit... when all your senses are enveloped by lyrical dialogue and the aromas of wool and old wood and a hint of stew simmering on the stove. It gives pause because it's all really real, but it feels as though you've stumbled onto the set of a movie.
Every seat is taken and there's a gentleman leaning against the brick wall at the end of the bar. He crosses his foot over the other as he chuckles loudly with the man sitting on a stool nearby.
LeRoy and the children wait near the doorway. I'm supposed to peek around the corner to see if there are any empty seats, but I'm so utterly caught up in the romance of the moment that I nearly forget my errand. A waitress carrying two empty pint-sized glasses on a tray stops to ask how she can help. We're looking for hot drinks to warm up while we wait for our train, I tell her.
"Ah!" she nods. "Order at the bar, Love. The tables are for ordering food."
They do this, you know. In England and Ireland. They call complete strangers Love.
And why not? Why don't we all call each other Love? After all, it's the very character of Whose Image we're made in.
And why not let it be the expectation... of ourselves... of others?
To see through Love's eyes...
Hey, Brandon, tell us more? Let me get you a warm-up on your coffee while you share that journey... the one in which you sang lyrics, asking Love to give you His eyes to see the things you kept missing... *
yeh, I'm listening. Cuz all this... these moments in which I'm enraptured by the ambient candlelight and lilting accents and filled with love for humanity... cuz, really, it's not that hard to love when you're called Love... right?
Come to think of it, sitting here in my office, 1,334 kilometers from the charm of that seaside village, a pile of papers on my desk, and a cranky radiator that only heats halfway, it's still easy to love. Our lives are brimming with people who love audaciously, far out of their comfort zones. Some of them bear wounds that would easily justify any bitterness or resentment. And yet...
They operate out of deep conviction, a solidarity as they follow the One Who calls them Beloved.
I'm with you, Brandon. Pleading with Spirit not to let me grow indifferent to the broken-hearted.
So, I'll keep taking my cue from the strangers who call me Love.
And the friends around me who love deeply and profoundly -- the ones who have a way of causing you to feel like you're the most important person in the world when you walk in the room.
And from the One Who declares that I shall be called Hephzibah -- My delight is in Her.**
*Reference taken from Brandon Heath's song, Give Me Your Eyes.
"Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see"
290. A whole blessed afternoon alone with my beloved...
291. ...while the children help teach a belay class at the climbing wall.
292. The breakfast of fried potatoes, eggs, bacon, and orange juice that LeRoy made for our family this morning.
293. The grace gift that Israel gave our family... how she stayed up past midnight cleaning a kitchen that was left a disaster from "eating and running."
294. Getting to hear LeRoy's insights, passion, and inspiration from the book he's reading, The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken.
295. Seeing a friend at Dance Blast who I haven't shared life with in way too long and exchanging a snippet of newsy chit chat with the foreshadowing of a longer visit later.
296. Israel's comment, "I just love those children in that family! The older brother is so kind to his baby sister! I really want to get to know their parents better."