Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Great Story

Psalm24:3-6 (NLT) Who may climb the mountain of the Lord?  Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have right standing with God their Saviour. They alone may enter God’s presence and worship the God of Israel.

David Augsburger tells the true story of Lt. John Blanchard, a young soldier in basic training during World War II.

One evening he wandered into the Army library and found a book to read. As he worked his way through the book he became quite impressed with the notes penciled in the margins. The feminine handwriting showed insight and understanding as well as a touch of tenderness. He flipped to the front of the book and found the name of the previous owner, a Miss Hollis Maynell. Blanchard did some research and found out her address was in New York. He wrote a letter to her, and the next day he was shipped overseas.

For 13 months the two of them corresponded, and during that time they began to open their hearts to each other. It soon became apparent that they were falling in love. One time he asked her to send him a picture, but she refused, saying that if he really loved her it didn't matter what she looked like.

Finally the day came when they were to meet in Grand Central Station in New York. She told him, 'You'll recognize me by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel." At one minute till 7:00 the soldier straightened his uniform as people walked toward him, his heart pumping with anxiety and anticipation for the long awaited moment. 

In Blanchard's own words: "A young woman was coming toward me, her figure was tall and slim, her blond hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears, her eyes were blue as flowers, her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her entirely failing to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved in her direction, a small provocation smile curved her lips: 'Going my way, soldier?' she murmured. Almost uncontrollably I took another step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. 

She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump; her thick ankled feet were thrust into low-heeled shoes. But she wore a red rose on the rumpled brown lapel of her coat.

The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was being split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld me during the long months overseas. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped a small worn blue leather copy of the book which was to identify me to her. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful. 

"I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment. "I'm Lt. John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me here; may I take you to dinner?' The woman's face broadened in a tolerant smile. 'I don't know what this is all about, son,' she answered, 'but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. She said if you were to ask me out to dinner I should tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test.'   

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