She didn’t really know why she drove here. This place was less than ten minutes away from the construction site and she had discovered it when she had been exploring the area a few weeks ago after work. Such a small chapel, which was still open, did not exist at her home. Still, what was she doing here? What did she actually expect from this place? Peace? Answers?
For weeks she had been looking for rest. The construction of the high bridge over the River Moselle was in its critical phase and as the geologist she was in constant tension. Every day new reports in the press, the mountain would not hold the foundations. So they said her expertise was wrong. The pressure was immense. And then this! When she went home Friday night after a week of hard work, Leon was on the voicemail. But different than usual. He sounded strange. She was actually hoping he’d propose in the near future. Well, at least now she didn’t have to worry about how she would get her friends from the USA and Namibia to her wedding.
And what would this chapel bring? Old musty stones, burnt candles and cold. “What the hell. Now that I’m here, I’ll go in,” she murmured to herself as she slammed the door of her BMW I3.
In fact, the dark heavy wooden door was open. Actually she had expected a small baroque treasure chest here, walls with pictures and altars with golden putti angels. This miniature edition of a church, however, reminded her more of the chapel of the congregation that she always visited during her semester abroad in Los Angeles. She had already admired the atmosphere of the building used for weddings away from the hustle and bustle of the Megachurch. It was ascetically furnished, white walls, high windows flooded with light, a light wooden floor, rows of upholstered chairs, a large natural wooden cross and a huge bronze crown hanging from the ceiling above the front area.
This chapel here was similarly equipped. Strange, she wouldn‘t have thought the region was so modern. As expected, no one was here. Still, many candles were lit. Although Tabea was not the romantic, she felt somehow lovingly welcome here. She sat down in the second row and looked at the cross. Did it shine there at the crossroads of the crossbeam? As if there was a candle in there, too. Must be the windows.
Suddenly a match was lit behind her. Tabea turned around and discovered a young dark-haired man just lighting a big candle attached to the wall. Where did he come from all of a sudden? The chapel was empty when she entered it. Embarrassed, Tabea turned forward again. „Oh, shit. I guess that’s it for the peace I was looking for.“ She should go, now. No, it’d look as if she was afraid of the man and escaped. You can exaggerate everything. “I’ll pray here now, anyway,” she thought defiantly.
“Hi!” Apparently, he’d come forward. “Hello,” Tabea replied, without even appreciating the man’s gaze. What was that about? Didn’t he know you didn’t disturb praying people? Dork.
“Sometimes it helps to say your grief out loud.” Please what? What’s this guy thinking? If he left her alone, maybe she’d say her stuff here in front of the cross. But not in front of strangers!
“That’s why I’m here,” she replied with an unmistakable tone. “I’d love to talk to God!”
“Yeah, exactly,” just came back.
Confused, Tabea looked up after all. The man stood perhaps three feet away, and something in his eyes took her breath away. Not only did they look stunning. She’d seen that many times before. The young men who wanted to court her at the University were all not exactly ugly. But she didn’t want one of them. She wanted Mr Right. Well, apparently the one she had taken wasn’t the one. No, these eyes were somehow knowing, penetrating, as if they looked deep into her soul. Did she know him from somewhere? She couldn’t possibly remember where from. Still, it was as if she knew that face. He was tall, slender, and looked gorgeous. He was wearing washed-out jeans and a white modern t-shirt.
“Sorry, but do we know each other?” she asked after some silence.
“Yes, we know each other! Pretty well even!”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t remember! Are you from the construction site?”
“No, not this one. I work on a huge number of construction sites, but they are more of a human nature!”
The man spoke in riddles.
“Okay, and how do we know each other? Actually, I had come here to find some privacy. “. She hoped the hint was clear. After the trouble of the last weeks with Leon, she really didn’t want to have a rendezvous with a man, even if he looked excellent.
“Getting abandoned is a really ugly thing. It makes you feel thrown away, not good enough. You think it’s up to you. And you wear your head down for what you did wrong.”
Who on earth was that? Was it so conspicuous that she was an abandoned woman with disappointed hopes? “Well, I guess that’s none of your business. But I have to say that you are absolutely right!”
“It’s not your fault! Your ideas of God and life were too different. You’re a very talented woman. There’s still a lot for you to do. And he couldn’t see that. For him it was enough to integrate faith into his own everyday life. Which was fine. But you have bigger visions. You want to change the world. If you’d married, you wouldn’t have unhinged the world anymore.”
“I don’t mean to offend you, but how do you know so much about Leon and me? Or better yet, how do you think you know? I don’t think we had different ideas. Sure, Leon was happy to go to church on Sundays and meet with his friends from the church one day in the week. Yes, and he also found it quite stressful when he was supposed to accompany me to the camps for the children or the mission outreaches. But that wasn’t so serious.”
“What is your heart’s desire? Apart from getting married and having kids?”
“Oh, God, nobody’s asked me that since my time in LA. In the past I always wanted to go somewhere where there was no church yet, and there I wanted to build something up. Especially for children and teenagers. I always thought they weren’t catered for sufficiently here in Germany. But those were dreams from the past. I have a job, an apartment, a car. I have bills to pay. So you can hardly say that Leon robbed me of these dreams!”
This man looked at Tabea in silence. For a moment, she thought he’d finally give up and leave. However, somewhere in the furthest corner of her heart, she had the feeling that she didn’t want to. My goodness, who was that? And how did he know so much? You don’t just forget a guy like that. She used the silence to rummage in her thoughts. School? No. Church? No. University? No. Family? No. Job? No. And anyway, he was obviously active in the consulting industry when he was more involved with human construction sites. Didn’t she have contacts with psychology students at the university? But he wasn’t one of them either.
“How did you get these dreams?” Wait a minute, what did they talk about? Oh yes, her ideas about her church involvement.
“In the church where I grew up, there was a very cool pastor. She always encouraged us to think bigger, to dream higher. Back then, I thought I could change the world. We all thought so! Later, in LA, there was a similar woman. She came up with it again. But today I’m an adult. These dreams no longer belong in my life.”
“Tabea,” he said gently. It was as if he not only looked into her eyes but into the innermost thoughts and memories of her existence. She’d never heard anyone pronounce her name like that before. She almost forgot to breathe. What was all that about? Who was that? It seemed to her as if the seal of a well sealed package was opened inside her. And what was inside slowly emerged from oblivion. It broke its path, noticeably, up from her belly. Not the vision, no, it was something else. Love? It was love. It was a deep feeling of being loved. Of being accepted. Being good enough. A feeling of being beautiful and desired, even longed for.
“Tabea,” he said again.
“Who are you? Why is this happening?” was all she could say.
“I’m the one who’s always loved you. I am the purpose and the goal of your life. I’m the one who’s by your side every second. I am the one who carries you when you can no longer walk, who dries your tears when you cry yourself to sleep, and I am the one who admires you when you shine and dance and laugh, when you speak and sing and dream.”
“You are,” she stopped. She suddenly felt his presence physically. A tremor went over her skin. She breathed out, “You’re Jesus?”
He did not answer, but his eyes did not leave her in doubt.
“Do you trust me? Do you really trust me? I’ve planned so many incredible things for you. Great things. Everything’s ready for you. All you have to do is go! Believe me, I would never do anything that wasn’t good for you. There is such great stuff in your future!. You need the right man by your side. He’s ready too. If you trust me, if you are ready to go on the water, I will lead you to places, I will give you experiences, a future that you‘ve never dreamed of”.
He reached out his hand to her and gently stroked her hair.
“I love you. Never forget that!”
Tabea closed her eyes and took in this breathtaking love. It was as if Jesus healed the wounds of her soul with his hand. A deep peace lay around her heart. When she opened her eyes again, she was alone. The sun shone in through the windows and the room shone.
“Stay a little longer,” Tabea whispered, knowing that she would never again be the person she had been.