Jeff took my hand and led me through the woods where he used to walk when he was just a child. “This land belonged to Grandpa, or Dr. Bovee, as they called Grandpa throughout Port Huron”.
Several months into our relationship, the sensation of Jeff touching my hand was still new. He wanted to hold my hand! It sent ripples of joy through my heart. He led me across a little dock under which a brook flowed. Over there to the side of the dock, and a little behind, where we had just walked, lay the pond, edged by weeping willows whose boughs brushed the water’s surface like feathers, and reflected so softly, their branches seemed to float on the mirrored water.
“Watch your step” Jeff said, as he led me across a tipsy board that gave us dry footing. We stepped on to the path now which led into the woods. The air felt cooler beneath the tree cover. Birds chirped, winging from treetop to treetop. Lacey sunshine filtered through the canopy above us.
We passed an open meadow and walked through a blackberry thicket. We picked a few juicy berries, cherishing our small meal together. Then we walked for what seemed miles. “Do you hear that?” I said. We stood still for a moment listening to shimmer of the summer wind breathing through the leaves. “That is a sound I remember from my childhood. We grew up in woods much like this”.
We continued walking. I stumbled for a moment on a stump as a branch snapped back and smarted on my leg. “Sorry about that”. Jeff looked back at me a little embarrassed. “It flew out of my hand.”
I smiled at him “you’re forgiven”.
Around the next bend and off the path a way back amongst some ferns and brush, stood a dilapidated old structure. “This is what they call ‘Stubie’, Jeff said. “A hermit used to live here.”
I had heard Jeff’s family talking about this place. I bent down and looked through splintered wood at what was once a wall. A remnant of a window stood as testimony of someone’s spending time there.
I had also heard Jeff’s family mention Johnny Appleseed may have tromped through these parts at one time. Could this have been a place Johnny Appleseed stopped along his way?
Jeff stopped to catch his breath. I followed his lead and stood very still as he came closer. “Are you enjoying yourself?” he said, looking at me with those eyes so blue they looked as if dipped from the depths of Lake Huron. He drew close to me, wrapping his arms properly around me, he looked in my eyes. My heart raced. I felt his breath on my cheek and the softness of his kiss. He held my head in his hands and laid his lips on mine. When I opened my eyes, the air seemed aflutter with pink butterflies. How had I not seen it before? We were standing in the middle of an ancient apple orchard in full bloom! God was in that romantic moment, drawing close to a young prince and his princess as love blossomed. I think God knew that years later, as we came through financial reversal and Jeff’s job-loss-related depression, we would need to remember when our love blossomed. God has since brought springtime back into our relationship, after a winter, flowers once again fill the air. He can do that for you too. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13, NIV).