Ellen Carnie invited me to come to her farm in order to attend the Christmas program at Stony Point Church last evening. I almost declined but she practically forced me to make the trip. The messages she sent became increasingly insistent, as though she knew that my soul needed the restoration that the farm offers. Here I lie, therefore, in a bed in an old farmhouse, nearly an hour north of my home. And I am grateful that I let myself be cajoled into this brief sojourn in a peaceful place.
Last evening’s program at the Church blended the rich tradition of old church songs with the endearing tenderness of children’s voices singing carols about Rudolph and Santa Claus. About fifty members of the Church attended, with a dozen children and one or two cheerful babies. The lights dimmed for Silent Night, during which the congregation held lighted candles and the music leader played the organ. The choir, clad in red sweaters, tendered lovely pieces which reminded me of midnight mass in my childhood parish. Ellen’s granddaughter Elizabeth stood beside the piano and sang I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas in a loud clear voice, with her brother Owen dancing beside her.
Afterwards, Ellen and I sat until 1:00 a.m. talking of the events of our lives and sharing wine which I had brought from the city. Now I lie here, wakeful but feeling the peace and love which seems to rise from the ground here, grateful for Ellen, for her friends who greeted me warmly last evening. I wait for the sun which I know will soon be rising. When the day lights the contours of this land, I will stand on Ellen’s deck, surrounded by the musty smell of fog. I will close my eyes and breathe the sweetness of the air into my lungs. I cannot be less than serene here. This place heals; and Ellen’s love lingers everywhere. In the end, that is my “grateful-for” today: For Ellen, and the love she gives me, and for the beauty of Carnie’s Honker Springs Farm.