Saturday afternoon, June 23, 2012, at approximately 2:30 pm
It was a lovely day in Albany, New York, where Irene and I were attending the 2012 Annual Northeast Convening of the International Apostolic Ministries.
We were staying at the Fairfield Inn in East Greenbush, New York, just across the Hudson River from the city of Albany.
We drove that morning to the Crossgates Mall to do some shopping at JC Penney’s, and afterword went over to the Colonie Mall to have lunch at the Cheesecake Factory restaurant.
Because it was a beautiful early summer day, we decide to eat outside on their patio. We had finished our lunch and were talking and enjoying ourselves when an elderly lady walked up to our table and greeted us. She appeared to be in her late 70’s – early 80’s, well dressed in a summer hat with a floral pattern on her dress.
She began her conversation with us but saying, “Hello there. I’m sorry, but I was just noticing your ring, huh, your band there on your finger. It made me think of my late husband. He had a band with the machine engraving, uh-uh, I think they call it something like filigree, is that right? Filigree?” Irene answered, “Filigree, yes that’s right. It is called filigree when they decoratively engrave.”
“Yes,” she said, “and yours there, [pointing at my wedding band] it has, oh, let me see it is engraved, are those stones inlaid there?”
“Yes,” I answered. “I think those are three small diamonds inlaid in there.”
She shook her head positively and continued, “Yes, and my late husband liked that filigree on his band but as the years went on it all wore off, and it was just a plain band, but I loved it better that way after it had worn off the engraving.”
“Ah, yes, I understand,” Irene and I both agreed. I added, “this one is over 40 years old.”
“Ah, yes, how nice. Well, I just loved it better when it was worn off that way. Thank you. I’m sorry to have bothered you. I just thought that your ring was lovely. Good day to you and God bless you both.”
We both said, “And, God bless you.”
Irene and I were both quite thoughtful about this encounter at first. As odd as it was, it somehow seemed important. I kept feeling like I needed to capture what the woman said as if there might be some kind of need to know later.
We talked a bit, trying to remember exactly what the lady said. All the time I was watching the door to see where and how she would exit. I never saw her, and she simply would have been impossible to miss.
It became evident to both Irene and I that we had just encountered an angel in human form.
Now, the machining on my ring, or any ring for that matter, is not filigree, although it is a nice texture. Filigree is usually ornately woven metal strands that an artisan shapes into something beautiful. I indeed sense that she used the word filigree on purpose and was talking not about the ring on either my finger or a supposed husband’s finger, but she was talking about life – together. That is our lives together.
Our lives were neatly; perhaps one might say, ornately woven together like strands of beautiful gold. But as the years have passed the ornate has given way to precious burnished metal and it is actually finer, even preferred to the eye-catching splendor of our youthful years.
I really felt that God the Father had sent His agent with a message to us with the message that we should marvel at the beauty of what the years have done. I felt that this was an emissary of heaven that was placing something deep inside of us for the instruction of hope for the young and perhaps the old as well.
The apostle Paul, when writing about love, said, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
I think that he was saying that love was fanciful and exciting in his youth but tried, tested and truly worthy to be called beautiful when he became old.
The messenger that the Lord sent to Irene and me that delightful day in Albany, brought to us a living truth that we shall not quickly forget.
To the young, I would say, “you have exciting days about you as you express your heart in loving rapture, but you have days ahead that will become the Lord’s surprise to you – His gift of love to you. Because you love and keep on loving, one day you will open your eyes to the beauty of love that has aged like the finest vintage.”
She said, “I just loved it better when it was worn off that way… Good day to you and God bless you both.”
The Father has blessed.