It was a beautiful fall afternoon as I crossed the almost empty campus that Saturday morning heading from my dorm to the union building for coffee with friends. As I passed by the chapel I heard a female voice singing Amazing Grace that was so pure and clear and with such a range that I had to pause for a moment to listen. The sound appeared to be coming from an open window in the chapel and after listening for a moment decided to see the person who had such a wonderful voice.
Going to the chapel door I entered and stood at the back looking toward the pulpit. A young woman about my age was standing on the dais singing. I had thought the sound outside was captivating, but inside it was spectacular and shivers of wonder and awe transformed me into a speechless zombie. When she finished she turned and thanked her accompanist at the piano and began gathering her music in anticipation of leaving. As I slowly recovered I glanced around and saw a pastor standing at the back near me. He had a look of transfixed wonder on his face and and I hoped someone who could tell me who we had been listening to.
"Who is she?" I whispered.
He shook himself as though coming out of a trance, "Her name is Jane Adams and she's singing her solo here at the service tomorrow morning and she's also going to give the sermon. I can only urge you to come early if you want to hear an extraordinary voice and an even more extraordinary message. The place will be packed."
"Thank you, I wouldn't miss it for the world after just listening to her singing."
"Wait until you hear her sermon, it will amaze you even more."
By this time Jane and her accompanist were coming down the aisle toward us and I stepped forward to intercept them. The accompanist was a short, heavy gray haired woman who contrasted sharply with the slim, curvaceous and much younger singer dressed in a blouse, jeans and sneakers. She was not especially gorgeous but had the clean, wholesome look of the girl- next-door and I noticed she didn't have any rings on her left hand ... I knew I had to get to know her.
"That was beautiful Miss Adams."
"Why thank you. I'm glad you liked it."
"My name is Jason Moyer. Would it be too much to ask if you ladies would like to join me for coffee at the union?"
"I'm sorry young man, but I have to get home. Why don't you go with him Jane?" the accompanist said with a twinkle in her eye.
Jane hesitated for a minute while looking at me through her glasses with the most beautiful blue eyes I'd ever seen. Her dark hair seemed to frame and illuminate them and close up made her face very striking.
"Sure, I could stand a cup, thank you for asking." She smiled at me and it seemed to light up her whole face.
We walked out into the sunshine and we talked as we made our way toward the union and had our coffee. I was so excited by being with her that I didn't join my friends, but just waved at them as we took a seat by ourselves. I wanted to find out as much as I could about her and knew I couldn't do it with others around.
From our conversation I first told her about myself; coming from a typical middle class family living in a small mid-west town and doing graduate studies at the university in micro biology. I was 24 and was on a co-op program with the company I worked for till I got my masters next May. I not so subtly let it slip that I didn't have a current girl friend or other romantic interests.
I found out Jane was 21 and a senior and in the school of divinity at a nearby private, liberal arts college. She came from a medium sized city in the northern part of the state and her father was the pastor of a large evangelical church there. She hoped to be ordained in the next year or two and be an assistant pastor where ever the denomination she was in sent her. She had hopes that someday she would be able to establish her own ministry and to follow a path that she was sure the Lord was guiding her toward. She smiled at me and her eyes glinted in amusement as she told me she had no time at the present for romantic entanglements but preferred casual dating where an escort was a necessity.
I told her I was a casual Christian and came from a family of casual Christians but I planned to attend church in the chapel the next morning and with a smile I told her I was sure her sermon would convince me to become more devout.
Smiling back confidently she told me, "I see that as my future ministry. Instead of doing missionary work in some far off undeveloped country, I believe the greatest challenge is right here at home; making real Christians out of the casual Christians. You can be my challenge for tomorrow."
"You're on." I told her as I reached across the table to shake her hand.
It seemed as though an electric shock passed through me as our hands touched and I knew by the sudden change in her expression that she felt it too and we continued to hold hands across the table. I didn't want to mention that the spark was probably generated by static electricity in the carpet we had crossed and the plastic chairs had prevented the slight charge to dissipate until we touched across the metal table.
"Wow!!" I reacted. "That was something. I hope it was as meaningful to you as it was to me."
Jane looked at me for a moment before responding. "I don't know about the meaningful part but I definitely felt something."
"I guess that's it then. How many children do you want to have?"
She looked shocked for a minute then saw me grinning at her and a big smile came to her face too.
"I was thinking two would be enough." she responded with a laugh.
"Darn, I was hoping for three."
She laughed some more before realizing we were still holding hands across the table. Looking down at our hands she slowly disengaged hers from mine and looked at me seriously.
"You know I don't have the time now for romance or anything like that?"
I responded with just a hint of a smile. "Neither do I, but I would like to get to know you better and be one of your many escorts."
She blushed and told me, "I don't have that many and mostly its my brother, Bob."
"Good, I'd like to apply for the job as sole escort."
"We'll see, but give me your phone number and I may call you. I have to get back to my room now and finish my sermon for tomorrow."
"I'll be there to hear it and start my conversion to being a dedicated Christian." I grinned at her.
She laughed back at me as we exchanged phone numbers and told me as she got up to go.
"We'll discuss the three children another time."
"And I'm sure glad there'll be another time." I shot back at her as she walked away.
With a warm feeling in my chest I joined my friends and by the big grin on my face knew that I was smitten and so had to endure a few jibes at my expense.
On Sunday morning I was at the Chapel for their interdenominational service a half hour early. I wanted to get a seat near enough to the front where she could see me as she stood at the front but not too obvious. I took a seat in the third row back on the aisle.
Several people came up and welcomed me as I waited and I noticed the chapel was filling rapidly. At five minutes before the service was to start chapel was packed. At the appointed time the choir and organist came in and took their seats followed by the pastor I'd met the day before and Jane. She was dressed in a simple, knee length dress with a single strand of pearls around her neck and pearl earrings. After taking a seat behind the pulpit I saw her looking around the church and then she spotted me and a warm smile lit up her face behind her glasses. I smiled back and sat back to enjoy the service with warmth in my chest I hadn't felt before. I think I was falling in love.
The first portion of the service was conducted by the pastor and then he introduced Jane to present the sermon for that Sunday. I could feel a tension in the air and murmurings as she was introduced and I wondered what they knew about her that I didn't. Jane came up to the pulpit and what followed was a half hour of the most enlightening explanation of her Christian faith as I'd ever heard. She spoke in a strong, confident voice and had the audience of college intellectuals in the palms of her hands. It was told in a manner that spanned all intelligence levels and with a clarity that was breathtaking. When she was finished I stood with the rest of the audience and clapped. The first time I'd ever heard of anyone clapping after a sermon. She just smiled, nodded and sat down as the pastor came forward and announced that Jane would sing Amazing Grace as a prelude to the benediction.
When she finished her song, there wasn't a dry eye in the chapel. Tears were in my eyes also and as the last notes died away she had to endure another standing ovation, even more so then the one following her sermon. I was awe struck by this woman. The applause continued until she went to the microphone and announced she didn't have another song ready as an encore. The pastor then gave the benediction and she went to the exit to stand with him as the attendees filed out. I hung back until I could be last.
It was some time before I finally got to the door because most wanted to talk with her on the way out. When I finally got to her I could tell she was excited but a little tired.
"You inspired me to become that dedicated Christian." I told her.
"I'm certainly glad of that."
"What are you going to do now. Can I interest you in a little brunch?"
"I'd like to just relax now and brunch sounds like the perfect way to do it."
"Good, let's go."
We said our goodbyes to the pastor and headed to my car.
.... There is more of this story ...