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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Sunday June 16th 2024

Searching ”“ A Serial Novelle Chapter 34: Everywhere you are is where you”'re supposed to be

By Patrick Cabello Hansel

There is something about coming in from the cold that warms the heart along with the rest of the body. Angel and Luz had literally come in from a long, cold search; as they woke on that clear, bright December morning, their hearts knew””ahead of their brains””that they had come in out of the cold of fear and hatred, and were new immigrants in the country of hope.

The morning sun caressed the stained glass above their heads, and cast deep rays of color upon the baptismal font. They had not noticed last night that they were resting in the shadow of that marble and wood river. They had not noticed that the picture that was causing such a riot of color was of Jesus welcoming the children.

Luz got up first, and rubbed her eyes.

“Angel””did we sleep here all night?” she asked.

“It seems so,” he said. “Although I think we”'ve learned that nothing is ever as it seems.”

“Oh, my dearies, but that is not true,” a voice answered them.

“Who are you?” Luz asked.

“Ask me who I was,” the voice replied.

“All right,” Angel said, trembling a little. “Who were you then?”

An older woman with a cane stepped out of the shadows at the back of the church, and began walking toward them. She carried a basket that was overflowing.

“I was Agnes Anderson,” she said, smiling wide. “Now, I am just one with all.”

Angel was going to ask her what in the world did she mean by “just one with all”, but Luz elbowed him gently in the ribs. He had forgotten that they had been bruised when he was beaten almost to death. How long ago was that? he wondered.

“Welcome, Agnes”¦” Luz said, and then stopped. “I guess you should be the one welcoming us.”

“Oh, I think you can never have too much welcoming!” Agnes laughed.

Agnes then said something that Luz and Angel heard differently. Angel heard her say: “Are you enjoying your stay?” He thought about it awhile, and believed that she was talking not just about last night, but the “staying” that he had made with Luz. A promise, a desire to stay together, whatever might come.

Luz heard the older woman say “Are you enjoying your say?” My say? she thought. It took her a moment to realize that Agnes must be talking about her voice, her words, the telling of her own story. Luz had awoken to a new trust; a belief that her story, her life was important. Whole and holy. No matter the pain, no matter the joy. She had a “say” that would never be taken from her.

“Well, you”'re both right”, Agnes said, although neither had asked her.

“How did you find us?” Luz asked, finally.

“Oh, I didn”'t find you,” she said. “You found me.”

Angel and Luz looked at each other, curious.

“Are you saying that we”'ve been searching for you all this time?” Angel asked.

“Yes. And you”'ve been right on track. And right on time,” Agnes answered.

“But,” Luz said, “All that pain, all the suffering, all the doubt?”

“Yes, dear”, Agnes replied. “All part of it. As well as all the joy, all the love, all the risk. Everything is true at once, you know.”

Luz and Angel knew better than to ask what that meant. Together, without knowing why, they gestured to Agnes to sit on the floor of the baptistery with them. She lifted the embroidered towel from the basket, spread it out on the floor, and began to pull out delights, one after another.

There was hot fry bread and lingonberry jam, churros and sweet potato pie, sambusas and rosettes, empanadas chilenas and Irish soda bread, Russian tea cakes and pierogi, juices of mango and mora and maracuya, ginepas and plum pudding, pansit and green papaya salad, accompanied by a woven Mayan tablecloth and napkins, silverware of real silver, and a large, lit candle.

“Wow!” Angel and Luz said at once. “Did all that come from your little basket?” they asked.

“Oh, I didn”'t take everything out!” Agnes laughed. “I had to keep the Rocky Road frozen until it”'s time for ice cream!”

“But are you sure it”'s OK?” Luz asked. “Are we supposed to eat in church?”

“Oh, of course””what do you think we do here in church?”

Luz and Angel were too hungry to ask more questions. They savored each taste in their mouths.

“Can I ask you one more question?” Angel asked, as they were sipping on hibiscus and ginger tea that had miraculous appeared.

“Of course,” she said.

“All through this time, I”'ve been hearing this strange word ”˜lotten”'”¦”

“And also “komma” Luz added. “What does it mean?”

“Just look around,” Agnes said.

Angel and Luz turned towards the stained glass window. At the bottom were these words: ”˜Laten barnen komma til mig”.

“What does that mean?” Angel asked.

“It means, ”˜Let the children come to me”'.”

“Is that Swedish?” Luz asked.

“Yes, and every other language,” Agnes said.

“So this is where our search ends? This is where we”'re supposed to be?” Angel asked Agnes.

“Oh, everywhere you are is where you”'re supposed to be,” Agnes said. “Keep looking.”

Luz and Angel looked at the painting and the words for a long time. The colors held and massaged their hearts, and the words watered their spirits. They both exhaled deeply, and as they took their next breath, they looked into each other”'s eyes, and saw a longing, a mission, a fire. When they turned around, Agnes and the feast were gone, but there was a presence of light, light in them and light around them, light that kept growing with each breath.

Alley Communications has been honored and pleased to have been able to publish this novel by Partrick Cabello Hansel, chapter by chapter, each successive month for nearly 3 years. Chapter 34 in this issue is the last chapter to be followed next month by a conclusive Epilogue. Readers are encouraged to send or call with responses to this unique publishing of a novel within a monthly community newspaper. It has been a first for The Alley and for any community paper as far as we know.

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