Ariel

You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” Jer. 29:13


            “The visitor’s card says ‘801 Great Stone Way,’ Mace,” said Lindy Mitchell, her eyes shifting between the card in her hand and mailboxes on the street.

Her husband, Mace Mitchell, slowed the car until they found a shiny black mailbox with brass numbers of 801. “This is it,” Mace said, turning in. They rambled through a natural wooded area into a clearing with a large house built in it, well-hidden from the road.

At the end of the circular drive loomed a white-bricked mansion. Clusters of bright flowers, shrubs, and small trees tastefully graced the grounds.  A small fountain gurgled.

Lindy exited the car.  “Wow,” was all she could whisper. “Really nice.”  She read the card. Ariel and Derek Farmer, with twin girls Sadie and Maddie. They moved here a month ago and have attended Beal Street Church for the past three Sundays.”  Lindy glanced at her husband. “Our church must have something they like.”

Mace joined her, staring up.  “Yeah. I might get a raise if the Farmers keep on finding things to like,” he said, a playful grin crooking his mouth.

She jabbed him, hoping no one saw through the myriad windows.  “Ixnay on the itchay-atchay,” she said in a low voice

Mace rang the doorbell, took a step back.

An attractive red-headed woman in a white sleeveless blouse and khaki capris swung open the door, a smile on her heart-shaped face. Heavy gold earrings glittered at her ears, bringing out the professionally-done highlights in her layered bob.  “Hello!  You’re the music pastor from Beal Street, aren’t you?”   From her rapid-fire accent, Ariel must have been raised up north somewhere.

“Please, won’t you come in?” she asked, whisking them inside.  The woman extended a French-manicured hand.  “I’m Ariel Farmer.”

Hiding behind their mother were the twins—about kindergarten age.  Their coppery hair was tied back with matching ribbons and was a shade lighter than their mother’s. The two stared out around their mama’s tanned legs with enormous eyes.  “This is Maddie, and this is Sadie, my twin girls.  I’m afraid my husband Derek is still at work.”

“I’m Mace Mitchell.”

“And I’m Lindy.”  She waggled a little wave to the girls, who both giggled at the same time.

“Come, sit down,” Ariel offered.  “Can I get you anything to drink? Tea, soda, or coffee?”

“No, don’t go to any trouble,” Mace said.  “We’re here to talk about the church, maybe answer any questions you might have about Beal Street.”

“Then I’ll try to come up with a few.” The corners of Ariel’s mouth swept up in a ready grin. “Girls, why don’t you bring some toys out here so Mommy can talk to Mace and Lindy?”

She and Mace were directed to a leather sectional, while Ariel kicked off her expensive-looking sandals, pulling her feet under her.  The girls retrieved a doll with a handful of doll clothes each and sat in the floor in front of her.

Mace settled into his seat.  “How’d you come to Beal Street Church?”

Ariel explained that their move from another state was a result of Derek’s new position in a Raleigh law firm.  As for Beal Street Church, they happened upon the picturesque house of worship during a family drive one evening and “liked the looks of it,” deciding right then and there to attend the next Sunday.

Ariel detailed for Lindy and Mace the rest of their history:  Married for seven years.   They bounced from location to location through the end of Derek’s college years, law school, his first law position, and finally here, “hopefully for a good long time,” Ariel said firmly.

“What about you, Ariel?  Do you work outside the home?”

“Not right now.  Until the twins came along, I managed retail in several high-end clothing stores, although—” she admitted, “—I almost spent more than I earned. That used to work Derek up into a full head of steam, it did.” Ariel twirled her hand like a game show hostess. “You see, I happen to like nice things.”

Lindy glimpsed the evidence. Overstuffed leather furniture, parsed into three conversation areas within the cavernous room.  Large canvases on the walls, splashed with bright amoebas of color. Fantastic fiberoptic chandeliers, works of art in themselves, hung from the ceiling. A billiard table on ornate carved legs manned the far end of the room.  Beyond the French doors, a gleaming blue pool beckoned.

Lindy shifted in her seat.  She’d probably never shopped any of the stores that Ariel worked in, never even bothered to glean the clearance racks.  Lindy didn’t know this woman well, but as she listened and observed her lifestyle, everything in Ariel’s life seemed big, larger than life.  She lived on a whole different plane of existence than she—simple, old Lindy Mitchell—did.

Mace sat forward.  “So, Ariel, can we answer any questions about Beal Street?”

“Everyone’s been so warm and welcoming at church, they really have.  The girls love going.  And I really, really love the music in the contemporary worship service.  Have you guys always had a  contemporary service?”

Lindy realized she’d stopped listening to the audible conversation around her, honing in on the one in her head instead.  She knew the still, small voice.   Ariel needs friends, Lindy.

Lindy scooted a bit closer to the armrest as Mace and Ariel continued their chat.  Lord, I understand that. They just moved to town. But I’m sure she’ll seek out those ladies at the country club, the wives of her husband’s law partners, the others who run in her circles.  I mean, look at this place.  Everything about her says “money.”

But she needs you to be her friend, Lindy.

Lindy glanced over.  Ariel laughed a high, tinkly laugh, her eyes lasered on Mace as he talked.  Her well-manicured fingers went to one of the small silky heads sitting at the couch’s edge.  She began to play with a loose strand of hair, extending a wisp, letting it go.  Picking another strand, letting it go.

Lindy eyed the ceiling.  Lord, look at this place.  What could Ariel and I possibly have in common?

She’s seeking Me, Lindy.  And I want you to help her to find what she’s looking for.

Mace’s words filtered their way back into her consciousness. “You know, I love both kinds of worship, the traditional and the new,” he said.  “Both can be used to glorify God.  Anyway that, in a nutshell, is the story of how Lindy and I ended up at Beal Street.”

Ariel was hugging her legs underneath her, transfixed on Mace’s every word.  Past the highlighted hair, the nails, the creamy complexion, Lindy could see hunger for something in those eyes.

Okay, Lord, Lindy prayed, You win.  But You’ve gotta help me bridge the differences, Lord, because you know I’m not exactly Chatty Cathy.

She had a thought.  Julia’s Bible study, that’s it!  She cleared her throat and spoke up.  “Ariel,  do you know about the new women’s Bible study just beginning at Beal Street?”

She turned to Lindy with eager eyes.  “I think I heard Brother Bill mention it in the announcements.  Can you tell me more?”

“Julia Peters, Brother Bill’s wife, is heading it up as facilitator.  It will focus on a godly woman’s roles in the home, the church, and the world.”  Lindy picked at a thread on her jean skirt.   “You know, Julia’s hoping for a real mix of ages in the study, both young and old alike.  She says there’s a lot we can learn from each other as women.”

Ariel’s face crumpled, for a sliver of a second, into a microcosm of palpable wistfulness.  Then just as quickly, it smoothed into a veneer of poise.

“You know,” she said, “I could do that.”  She paused to stroke the other twin’s head. “The twins are in a preschool a couple of days a week.  If the study is scheduled for one of the days while they’re in school, there shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Oh, I forgot to mention there’ll be childcare at the church; Julia’s going to arrange for it.  You could bring the girls with you, if you want to.  Julia did that so anyone who wants to, can come and not have to look for a babysitter.”

“Great,” said Ariel smiling.  “I’ll keep my ears perked for the starting date and mark it on my calendar.”

Restless from playing, Sadie and Maddie moved from the floor to the couch, pressing themselves into their mother.

Mace took the hint and stood.  So did Lindy.  “Well, we’ll let you get back to taking care of these little girls.”  He touched their coppery heads.  “Sadie, Maddie, you keep on coming with Mom and Dad to Beal Street.  Now that I know who you are, I’ll be looking for you, okay?”

The twins shyly grinned at each other, at their mother, and then at them. “Okay,” they said in unison.

“They’re so quiet,” Mace marveled. “Are they always this quiet?”

Ariel stood also.  “Heavens, no. Just around people they don’t know very well. Wait till they get to know you better. They can be regular little chatterboxes!”

The adults made their way to the foyer. Lindy spoke first. “I’m sorry we didn’t get to meet Derek.”

“Me, too,” Mace agreed. “Maybe we’ll get the chance to speak to him at church.”

Ariel clamped her lips together, released them. “Maybe you will, I hope so.  Derek’s trying to make a good impression for his new bosses right now, so he’s working a lot of hours.”  A half-smile darted across her face.  “Sometimes he goes into the office on Sundays, too, though I tell him he shouldn’t do that.”

Mace sidled up next to Lindy.  “That’s okay.  We’ll catch him eventually, I’m sure.  It was very nice to meet you, Ariel.  Remember, Lindy and I’ll be glad to help you any way we can.”

“And I’ll be praying for you, that you can attend the Bible study,” Lindy said, taking her hand.

Ariel’s face lengthened with all seriousness as she gripped back.  “You would?  You’d pray for me?  I’d really, really appreciate that.”

“If you’d like, we’ll pray with you before we leave,” Mace suggested, pulling them into a circle.

In the car’s rearview, Lindy watched the white-washed bricks of the mansion become less distinct and then disappear behind a veil of woods.

I want you to be a friend, the Voice confirmed within her. Ariel’s seeking Me, Lindy. I want you to help her find what she’s looking for.

I will, Lord.  I’ll certainly try.

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Comments

  1. Ann Dobies says:

    Very good!!! Shows how we are a smidgen intimidated with the rich with lots of worldly goods, but also shows the common ground God prepares for us if we listen to “that, still voice” and follow what He has commanded us to do. Reminds of “Jesus Loves Me” and how no one is exempt from His love.

    • God arranges those divine appointments to see if we’ll trust Him and do what He says. We have to be willing to get out of our comfort zone and love people where they’re at–even if they are intimidating.

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