On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:16 ESV)
I, Beth, went for a walk in the woods one day and found something unusual. Did you ever think you would go out your front door and meet a Baroness? Well I certainly never thought I would really meet a Baroness in the woods. Maybe a bear and I’ve seen deer and jack rabbits and marder and wild boar…but a baroness? That was something I never thought would happen, but it did. I often walked in our woods around Giesshuebl. In truth, I walked every day that I could. I took this as a gift from God. I found peace and blessing in the woods. I found this a wonderful place to pray and talk with God. I also found this was a good place to walk and talk with my neighbors.
I walked on Mondays with a fellow missionary. We walked about 5 km in wind, rain, fog, snow or sleet . . . well maybe not sleet. We talked and encouraged one another and shared about our weekend past and the week to come. We worked with the same mission and could share many details and understand what each other brought up as a topic. The rest of my walks during the week were more spontaneous. My neighbor, two flights down in the apartment building, was from Malta and married to an Austrian. They had three children close to our sons James’ and Evan’s age and the kids were actually friends.
When we first moved to Giesshuebl she was my help and good neighbor. She spoke English and German and often provided help dealing with living in a foreign land. During some tough times she experienced with her health and her daughter’s health I was able to be there for her and we became good friends.
Often, when the weather was nice, she would yell from her balcony, “We go for walk?” We went hunting for flowers. We exercised and talked. We sat on top of the Salatberg and rested in the beauty of our surroundings. She knew everyone in the community from the little Catholic Church they attend. The church had a new priest no one was very fond of.
So she told me about our neighbors and asked questions about me, my life and my faith. Her son came to know our Savior but she still had many questions. She introduced me to the Bürgermeister, and the doctor, and the town nut. We also meet up with other friends and neighbors and walked and talked with them. I sometimes had friends from Vienna up and we also walked in my woods.
I saw many wonders. I saw the beauty of the Vienna Woods. I saw the wild flowers, the trees, the herbs, spices and nuts that grew just up the hill from our flat. I saw and heard the birds and some wildlife. During the fall with the leaves changing and in the spring with flowers blooming there was an explosion of color and wonder filled my eyes. I loved the woods in the winter too when it became a sparkly fairy land.
One day it became a place of surprise as we walked and talked and suddenly she stopped and said hello to someone coming from the other direction. She introduced me and I saw an elderly lady very refined, aristocratic and friendly. We spoke in German briefly and then went on our opposite ways. I, of course, asked for more information and was told this was truly a baroness and the mother of one of our neighbors. She came from the area near Graz where she lived in her castle. I felt maybe I had wandered into a fairyland myself and the Baroness wasn’t real but part of a book I had read or a tale I had heard.
I am a child of the King of Kings and not overly impressed with royalty here on earth. But, I am impressed over and over with my God who surprises me with the life I have been called to lead as a missionary and the tough times and the blessings he sends my way. Who knows, maybe next I will be invited to tea with a princess!