The phrase continues to echo in my mind, despite the time that has gone by and the thousands of miles away that I first heard the words. On the little island in the cold waters of the Atlantic sits a man and his wife in an old home that once served meals from an open fire. The wind and rain rattle the original windows and tear at the blue and white paint of the home exterior. But there they sit, warm and content, surrounded by their artwork and books.
He’s 88 and he still drives…hardly. She too is in her 80’s a Canadian transplant with family ties to Lewis, hence why they remain in what was her grandmother’s home.
We joined her for lunch at a humble table in a room with a piano. A small square in the wall peaked in to the kitchen and allowed the alluring scent of fresh soup to waft as we sat waiting; anticipating a lovely conversation and edible hospitality. We were happy to get to know one another and delighted in the stories as we looked history in the face.
Soup, it turned out was only the first course. Homemade meatballs, roasted vegetables, boiled potatoes, bread. Try as I may, I could not squeeze any more in to my very stuffed belly. The spoon that lay horizontal above my now empty dish reminded me that dessert had yet to be served. Custard… my favorite. Perhaps there was still room enough for more.
We retired to the sitting room around a modern heating fire and heard about the home and the boys who had left from its walls to go to war, never to return. Amidst the stories I was thankful as I glanced outside, the view hardly visible through the rain soaked pane. Then his car pulled up. Her husband arrived in his dark suit and tie, fresh from a wake.
He removed his hat and with thick accent and huge smile, thanked us for still being at the house. I love how he spoke. Slower than most, annunciating his words perfectly (no doubt left over from his days of teaching Latin and Greek) with a slight lisp of the tongue. We asked how he was post an emotional afternoon of funeral. He answered all our questions with “Oh yes…” or “Oh of course…” all the while grinning and expressing his gratitude that we remained. After a few minutes of the days topic, he stopped and with lowered voice said, “Let us speak of things that matter,” and with a smile began to tell stories of his island’s revivals; of great preachers and teachers; of memories and scripture very clear to him and “oh yes…” very dear.
He was beautiful and pure; imperfect and intriguing; wise and ever so grateful. We sat at the humble table once more and shared tea and shortbread. We sat and listened and took in the moment that would never occur again.
He drove us home on a single track road back to Stornoway. I pondered what I had heard and prayed also for our safety. He “knew that we were special”; we knew this afternoon would have a lasting impact on our hearts.
The man and woman at 7 Ranish Loch sit in my minds eye in that cozy home, enduring the harsh winds and rains of the Lewis Winter and they speak, frequently, of things that matter. When I see them in their chairs, surrounded by their artwork and books, I think of Him; the One whose love, kindness and grace carry forgiveness, joy and peace. When I think of Him, it is then that I shall speak and have it matter most.