Chapter 27

The next week was filled with time at the shop, cleanup of the duplex, and the arrival of Blaise’s mother June and her sister Elise. It was a whirlwind of activity that was a good diversion for Harper. Easter was going to be early this year, and she had decided to give up coffee for Lent, so there were days when her energy level lagged a bit; but all in all, a lot of work got accomplished by all hands in a short span of time. Even though the small garage in the back was full of items yet to be sorted, June and Elise were comfortably settled in by Thursday. The yard also would need tending, front and back, but Blaise had agreed to that task as part of their rental agreement. He darted in and out between his part time job and his study and ministry, so they really didn’t have the time for a serious conversation, which for Harper’s part was good and helped her to generate a new norm for her friendship model—at least in her head.

The nights, though, did not pass as trouble free. The first couple of days, she was exhausted and so slept soundly. But by Tuesday night, her thoughts conspired to keep her awake. She decided to switch her devotional time to the evening right before bed, rather than early morning, in hopes that her sleep would be peaceful and dreams just her normal disjointed and random episodic adventures; but her conflicting emotions crept in with the silence and the darkness.

When Friday came, she determined that she would attend the meeting in the evening. She would be charming but a little aloof, to Blaise and to everyone. She would focus on being a good hostess to this church in her shop. Blaise’s mum and aunt wanted to go and see Blaise in action, so Harper agreed to give them a lift since Blaise would be going early to open up, though she wasn’t sure she wanted to make that a regular commitment.

Conversations with the pair had already proved to be quite interesting. Elise stood about 5’ 2” and had a tiny voice to match, but she was stronger than she first appeared. Harper wasn’t sure if she was shy or just needed more time to warm up, but conversation had been limited to very few words over the week. All business. She did not see having a discussion any time soon over tea on the nuances of spiritual thought in Tolkien’s works—or any other author, for that matter. But that was okay. June, on the other hand, was a contrast to her sister in every way. Even at twelve years her senior, she walked tall and straight, standing probably a good seven or eight inches taller than Elise. Elise’s hair was short and totally grey; whereas, June’s still had some of her auburn showing through amongst the white. Hers was long, but tied back in a tight bun which almost exaggerated her broad smile. And she loved to talk. It didn’t always make sense, but it was entertaining. As Blaise had described, his mother had creeping dementia, and though Harper had been introduced upon their arrival, she had been since greeted as Alice, Cher, and Carmen so far, nothing even close to Harper. After correcting her several times, Harper decided she would just go with the flow and answer to anything.

After work, Harper drove home to feed Clutch and grab a quick bite herself. As the meeting time approached, she got June and Elise in the car, Elise in the back and June being taller, in the front. When she got them settled in the back room at the shop, she busied herself making coffee and setting out some mugs and carrot muffins. She was in full hostess mode—a good cover. The coffee cart had initially been moved into the meeting room for convenience, but with the growing numbers (they were averaging about twenty-five or so members now), they had moved it back out into the shop area, just inside the door.

Max peeked his head around the corner. He was an interesting character. She had only been introduced to him briefly once.  Blaise had filled her in on at least some of his story. He had been a mechanical engineer, but had struggled with a drug problem. From what she understood, he made a structural design error that cost his company a major account and also made them vulnerable to a suit, so he lost his job. With drugs, financial stress, and relational difficulties, he ended up losing his family, too, and was for quite some time strung out, living on the streets. She would need to ask him about it sometime; but apparently somewhere along the line, he found God, got clean, and decided to stay living on the streets as a mission to the homeless there. It was quite a story, and she hoped to learn more of it in the coming days.

“Ms. Carville, would it be . . .”

“Please, Max, call me Harper.”

Max flashed a smile. “I was wondering if I could have a cup of coffee and a muffin for a guy named JR?”

“Absolutely, he’s welcome to come in and grab some himself.”

“Well . . . he’s standing outside the door and won’t come in. He doesn’t like people much. He’s one of my homeless acquaintances who lives in the encampment underneath the 5th St. bridge. He heard we had coffee and came by, hoping to have some.”

“Hmm, I use mugs so as not to keep using single use paper goods, but you know I think I may still have a package of disposable paper cups in the utility closet.” Harper went and found the cups and filled one with piping hot coffee for JR. She wrapped a couple of muffins in a napkin and handed them to Max. “I’m sorry I couldn’t find any lids, so I hope this is okay.”

“That’s great! Thanks so much.” Max pulled a few folded bills from his pocket and went to peel off a dollar to put in the donation jar.

“No, Max, don’t worry about it. There’s plenty.” With a smile and a gentle bow, he put the money back in his pocket and disappeared out the back door. Harper decided she would ask Blaise more about this warm and articulate man who chose to live on the street. She was just finishing up when she saw Blaise walk to the front and begin the service. Harper slipped in to the back row.

Blaise was not a particularly good vocalist, but he pulled out a pitch pipe and started an acapella worship song. All the rest soon joined in to lend strength to his voice. It was a song that Harper was unfamiliar with, so she just sat and listened. Some in the group sang with arms raised; some stood and others sat. It wasn’t tonally perfect and certainly not as contemporary as what she and Graham had done when they participated in worship bands. But the strains of melody were sweet and seemed to hang in the air like fragrance. It wasn’t worship she was used to; and though she wasn’t really participating, she still felt in a weird way included in the group and the expression of praise. She closed her eyes and let the music wash over her.

A living sacrifice, I offer You my life, what You have given me, I now return.
An offering of praise, my moments and my days, lifted hands now yield my life’s concerns.

It’s not my own, yet it’s mine to give, this is not my life, yet it’s mine to live.
And it becomes an act of my worship; I surrender, Lord, my life.
It’s not my own; it’s not mine to lose. I’m held secure, but I’m free to choose,
and it becomes an act of my worship. I surrender, Lord, myself, my life to You.

A living sacrifice, a consecrated life is holy and acceptable to You.
With mercy ever kind, remake this carnal mind as I yield my stubborn will anew.

By the time the chorus came around again, Harper had caught on to the melody and she started to softly sing with her head bowed. In fact, as she sang, it became more like a prayer.

It’s not my own, yet it’s mine to give, this is not my life, yet it’s mine to live.
And it becomes an act of my worship; I surrender, Lord, my life.
It’s not my own; it’s not mine to lose. I’m held secure, but I’m free to choose,
and it becomes an act of my worship. I surrender, Lord, myself, my life,
myself, my life to You.
A living sacrifice, I offer You my life.
A living sacrifice, I offer You my life.
A living sacrifice, I offer You my life.

Her eyes remained closed as the group continued on to the next song, and tears rolled down her cheeks. It dawned on her that this probably was not being as aloof as she had intended.

About apronheadlilly

wife and mother, musician, composer / poet, teacher, and observer of the world, flawed Christ-follower
This entry was posted in Christian, community, creative writing, devotional, Faith, friendship, love, Thoughts, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Chapter 27

  1. susanpoozan says:

    A lot of work went into that chapter I should think. It will be interesting to see what comes next.

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