This past weekend, I attended the Abbey Faith and Music Fest in Malvern, Pennsylvania, with my daughter, Katie, as a vendor. I’m pretty sure Katie would like to have been somewhere else, but we’d been planning on going for a while, and I knew I’d need help with sales, so she went with me without complaint. It was long day, beginning with a two-and-a-half hour drive from home that put us at the event shortly before 9am. It was a fun ride with Katie playing music and talking non-stop about which songs on Taylor’s latest album are her favorites. It was much better than the unplanned ride home after a dreadful hotel experience, but that’s a different story!
After we arrived at the abbey and got set up, Katie recognized her former RA from her sophomore year of college sitting in a tent across from us. They hugged and reminisced and talked about how much they loved sharing the same floor that semester. It was a great surprise for Katie, and I’m so happy the two reconnected. Just as nice as that meeting was the chance to meet and talk to young author, Sara Francis, with whom Katie hit it off immediately and promptly bought all three of her dystopian novels!
Throughout the day, Katie and I chatted about her life–her boyfriend, the new job she just started last week (her first REAL job!), and her goals for the future. All day, we were surrounded by people of all ages wearing shirts that said things like, “Lead like Joan,” “Rock like Peter,” “Clothed in dignity and strength,” and shirts with sayings from The Chosen (I had mine on!). It was so nice to see people walking by all day wearing their religion on their sleeves (literally) without shame or fear, to hear conversations about God and Jesus, and to see the kindness and joy they all exuded. It felt like we were in a strange and wonderful bubble away from condemning voices and rolling eyes and judgmental head shakes.
For me, the most moving part of the day came just after the beginning of the late afternoon Mass. Katie and I put up a sign saying we would return after Mass and headed to the opposite side of the grounds. We had a purpose in doing this. We were among the few chosen (see what I did there?) to meet Jonathan Roumie, The Chosen’s Jesus, after Mass, but we had limited time to get to the other side of the Norbertine Abbey, and we wanted to be close when Mass ended so that we could quickly return to out tent. We found a spot and stopped to participate in Mass, and then we received the most wonderful gifts of kindness.
Shortly after Mass began, right about the time the first reading was being proclaimed, we felt the first raindrop. Katie whispered, “Did you feel that?” I nodded and prayed that it would pass. A few thousand people lounged on the grass, and vendors, food trucks, and countless organizations were set up all over the grounds while performers waited to go on stage after Mass. Alas, the rain started coming down harder.
“Mom,” Katie said in a panicked voice. “Your books are going to get ruined.”
We had a display table set up inside our tent, but the bulk of my books were on another table just behind the tent, and under that table were boxes of additional books.
“Mom!” she said, more panicked as the rain really picked up. “Your books are in the rain!”
I looked around. Umbrellas were being opened as the sky turned darker. I shook my head and whispered, “Unless we go running through the grass during Mass, there isn’t really anything we can do about it.” Don’t ask me why I didn’t panic. I just didn’t. I mean, I had $2000 worth of books sitting outside in the rain, but something in me kept me calm and unworried.
Then I heard a gasp. “Look! There are people moving your table!” Sure enough, there was a crowd of young adults moving the table into the tent. “And they’re moving the boxes, too!”
We could’t see very well with all the people and some trees between us, but we could see enough to know that a group of kind young people were moving all my books into the shelter of the tent. They were living their faith, not in word or talk, but in deed and truth.
As we turned our attention back to Mass, a man tapped on my shoulder. His family was to the left of us, on the edge of the grounds, and they had quickly erected a sports tent as the rain began to fall. The man motioned for us to join them, and we did so, thanking him profusely. Though we we were already wet, there was a warm breeze, and it didn’t take long to feel and see the water droplets on my shirt drying. The rain lasted about ten minutes, and then the sun broke through in a beautiful blue sky.
The day was perfect. Whether I sold books or made any lasting contacts didn’t matter. If it had continued to rain, it would have been okay. If we hadn’t made it to meet Jonathan, all still would have been good. To know that goodness and kindness and love for God and neighbor is still alive and well in the world was more than enough. To have Katie witness these things, too, was a gift from God.
By the way, we did meet Jonathan Roumie! Here’s a picture of us with our friends who were on the planning committee.
Saint Paul instructed the Galatians, thus instructing us, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10). Let us all go out and do good to all people. You never know who might be watching and what impact it might have on them, and on you.
Be sure to catch me next at:
October 16-17 – Book signing – Maryland Oyster Festival in Leonardtown, Maryland 10:00AM-7:00PM Saturday; 11:00AM-6PM Sunday
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020).