A Long-Lost Postcard First Brought Them Together. Will Their Differences Keep Them Apart?
After the dramatic conclusion to his discovery of a long-lost postcard, journalist Philip Bradley simply cannot forget the Amish people he met while on assignment in Pennsylvania--particularly Rachel Yoder and her young daughter, Annie. Rachel's cheerful outlook, in spite of her blindness, and her appealing, uncomplicated lifestyle beckon Philip amid the high-paced existence of his New York career.
Philip's newfound knowledge of the true reason for Rachel's loss of sight spurs him on to uncover what he can about the possibility for a cure. In Lancaster County, Rachel has her own ideas about the way her vision might be restored, and it doesn't include the local healer and his black box. Now, Rachel firmly believes the God she serves is the only One who can grant her sight, but as the memories of the trauma she suffered begin to resurface, Rachel questions whether she can bear the agonizing road to recovery.
Drawn back to Lancaster County over the Christmas holidays, Philip struggles with the vast gulf separating him from the beautiful Plain woman. Rachel has suffered unbearable heartache; will his growing affection for her only bring more of the same? Or must Philip and Rachel sacrifice a future together for the sake of all they know and love?
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Baker Publishing Group
January 31, 2007
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Excerpt from The Crossroad by Beverly Lewis
Manhattan s skyscrapers jeered down at him as he flung open the door of the cab and crossed the narrow, congested street. Behind him, yellow cabs zigzagged in and out of indefinable traffic lanes, blaring their horns. Side by side, late-model cars, shiny limousines, mud-splashed delivery trucks, and pristine tour buses waited for the light to change, exuding puffs of exhaust. Each contributing to the chaos typical of New York City s business district.
The glassed entrance to the Lafayette Building, where the editorial offices of Family Life Magazine were located on the thirty-fourth floor, revolved with an endless tide of humanity, ebbing and flowing.
Pulling his overcoat against his tall lean frame, Philip Bradley pushed through the crush of the crowd, leaning into the bitter December wind. At the portico, he nodded to the Salvation Army volunteer with the red velvet Santa suit, ringing a small but mighty brass bell, the plinking of which added to the hubbub.
Merry Christmas, the would-be Santa called to Philip, and the young journalist stuffed a five-dollar bill his first contribution of the season into the donation box.
Bless you, Santa sang out.
May the Lord bless you always....
The words had echoed in Philip s brain these past months, and immediately his thoughts sped back to the unassuming and beautiful Plain woman he had met while staying at an Amish B&B in Lancaster County. A young widow with a delightful little daughter named Annie, Rachel Yoder lived in the quiet farming community of Bird-in-Hand. While on assignment for the magazine, he had gone to research Amish Christmas customs, staying by mere chance, he d thought at the time at Rachel s parents Orchard Guest House on Olde Mill Road.
May the Lord bless you always, had been Rachel s parting words, and the impact of her blessing and gracious Christian witness had resonated unceasingly in his mind. So much so that Philip had begun to read his Bible again, after years of indifference; even attended church services with his married sister and family, the very church he had once privately sneered.
Inside the atrium-style lobby, businessmen and women bustled to and fro, their well-polished shoes clattering and scuffing against gleaming tiled corridors.
The security guard addressed Philip with a nod and Morning, Mr. Bradley. He returned the smile and greeting, making his way toward the elevators, where a large cluster of people extended out to the atrium itself.
Though not an impatient man, Philip glanced at his watch, wondering where he might ve been in the early-morning scheme of things if he hadn t left his apartment twenty minutes earlier than usual. He made a mental note to give himself an extra ten tomorrow. It might help alleviate his increased feelings of stress, what with traffic surging in ever-increasing swells weekly, it seemed.
Philip shifted his briefcase, waiting for his turn in the elevator, recalling a recent predawn stroll a ramble, he d called it while in Amish country. There had been something exceptional about that particular day; the memory lingered fondly in his mind. Something about the quietude, the beauty of witnessing the sun s lustrous, silent rise over the horizon, breaking upon distant hills, spilling a rose-stained glow across the earth.
Something ever so special, he thought, recalling an Amish expression. He couldn t seem to shake the images and emotions of that singular short week, and he did not know why. Was it the tranquil, slower pace of things he longed for The farm-fresh aroma of cows and soil
Philip found himself thinking of Rachel, missing her though in a non-romantic sort of way, he was absolutely certain. They were worlds apart, and both he and Susanna Zook Rachel s determined mother had recognized the all-important fact at precisely the same moment. Nevertheless, the enticing thoughts prevailed to the point that he had to shove them aside lest he not focus sufficiently on his journalistic assignments.
Bradley! a man called through the crowd, standing a few feet from the elevator doors.
Hey, Henning, Philip replied with a grin. Richard Henning was a lead photographer for the magazine. Red-haired and sporting a goatee, he was a brilliant artist, if not a little overzealous at times. But most New York photojournalists were known to be pushy and demanding. They had to be.
Just caught your Amish piece. Keep it up, and I ll be working for you someday, Henning said.
You could do worse, Philip joked.
The elevator door opened and they followed the crowd inside.
Philip turned to Henning and whispered, So ... you liked my Christmas feature
Yeah, yeah, but the photos were weak. You didn t give em much to work with. That s what I wanted to talk to you about.
Uh-oh. Here we go. Philip chuckled.
No, this is good. Hear me out. I m thinking about a photo essay ... featuring the Amish.
At the mention of the Plain People, a number of heads turned. Henning dropped his voice. I think we could get Farrar, Straus & Giroux interested if you re on board.
Philip cringed. Most likely, the young photographer had no knowledge of Plain folk and their ways, probably didn t know they would shy away from being the subject of a photograph.
The elevator doors opened at the thirty-fourth floor, and the mass of humanity poured out. He followed Henning past the law offices of Abrahms and Hampshire to the double doors of Family Life Magazine. They opened to an enormous room of congested cubicles housing busy writers and copy editors. The entire floor was abuzz with the low but steady hum of computers, ringing phones cell and otherwise and human voices, people scrambling here and there. Philip waved at several co-workers in his section, then turned to Henning and motioned to his cubicle.
Henning started off in the opposite direction. Give me a minute! he shouted, and then he was gone.
Philip s writing space was clogged with vital paraphernalia: newspaper clippings, snatches of notes for interviews and email addresses, and an occasional phone number. His computer stood ready, centered on his desk, a telephone off to the left, and his married sister s family portrait framed in oak to the right of a wide red canister of pens and pencils. The picture included Janice, her light brown hair pulled back on one side, her tall blond husband, Kenneth, sporting a jovial smile, and their perky, flaxen-haired daughter, twelve-year-old Kari.
A bespeckled brunette in a navy blue pantsuit knocked on his partition just as Philip was logging on to the computer. Great piece, Phil.
Looking up, he smiled at Beth, a top-notch copy editor for the magazine. Thanks ... but you make me sound good.
So, any truth to the rumor she asked, ignoring the kudo.
Philip scratched his chin. Okay, I ll bite. What rumor
That you re joining the Amish. She stood at attention in the doorway, as though waiting for an answer.
My buggy permit hasn t shown up in the mail yet. Until then, all plans are on hold.
Beth laughed. Don t ask me to ride with you. She wiggled her fingers at him, then headed across the room.
Philip turned back to his desk and thumbed through his Rolodex, locating the address for his late-afternoon interview. Congressman Thomason, New York state senator. A man who, at the age of fifty-eight, had become an adoptive father. The perfect feature for next June s Father s Day issue.
Meanwhile, Henning had returned looking like a hungry puppy. He sat in a chair in the corner of the cubicle, slurping a cup of coffee, and staring intently at Philip.
I know that look, Philip said.
Henning s smile turned dubious. So ... I come up with these incredible ideas, and all you want to do is shoot them down. That s what our friendship s come to
Philip sighed dramatically. Okay, let s hear it.
Henning s smile broadened, and he affected his best Ross Perot impression. Here s the deal.
In a nutshell I set up the photo shoot; you write the copy. Subject matter: the Amish.
It s been done.
Not like I can do it, Henning replied. We go more in depth, maybe find an Amish family that ll take us in for a few days. Up close and personal. None of this superficial and pretentious stuff. We ll bring more humanity to the subject.
With pictures, Philip muttered.
Lots, Henning replied without skipping a beat. The way I see it, this Amish thing s a hot button. People are just plain nuts about the plain and simple. He laughed at his own word play. Everyone s yearning for the earthy, the back-to-basics approach to things ... to everything.
What the man said rang true. Maybe the unending emphasis on technology had backfired on the entire human race. Were we, all of us, craving a simpler life, a slower pace
Philip studied Henning. Count me out this time.
That s it Just like that, you dismiss it
Shaking his head, Philip said, I don t feel comfortable about any of it.
Henning rubbed his pointer finger back and forth under his nose. I don t follow, Phil. I thought you were smitten with the Plain culture. Bob says it s all you talk about ... Amish this, horse and buggy that.
Bob Snell, their editor, had every reason to regurgitate Philip s own enthusiasm to Rick Henning. Most Amish disapprove of photographers, Philip explained. It wouldn t be such a good idea to sneak around with your high-powered lens, taking shots of folk who ve chosen to disconnect from the outside world, which just happens to include free-lance photographers.
Henning s jaw dropped. Are you saying I can t zoom in on the eighteenth century, standing halfway across a pasture
There s a difference between can t and shouldn t. Philip inhaled, then expelled the air loudly.
Hold on a minute. Couldn t we try to get their permission at least make some attempt
Philip wasn t surprised at his friend s persistence. Whose permission he asked.
You met some Amish folk some you interviewed, right Just get their consent. How hard can that be
Philip thought of little Annie Yoder and her widowed mother, Rachel; the stiff-lipped Susanna Zook and her bearded husband, Benjamin. He shook his head, staring hard at the bridge of Henning s long nose. You really don t get it, do you, Richard We re outsiders to the Amish world two men they d never be willing to trust, especially one with a camera poised and focused. Sorry, I m not interested in exploiting their lifestyle to make some extra bucks.
But the Amish exploit themselves. You ve seen the tourist ads out in Ohio tourism is a big part of their livelihood.
Philip stood his ground. There are limits.
All right, have it your way. Henning got up to leave. But I ll be back.
Philip crumpled his coffee cup and threw it, but Henning ducked and scampered down the hallway.
Philip turned his attention to the project at hand writing three pages of upbeat, family oriented questions for Senator Thomason. Something to engage and inspire the middle-aged politician, questions to set him at ease, make him feel altogether comfortable chatting about the toddler-aged Romanian twin girls he and his wife had recently adopted. Philip promptly set to work, putting Henning and the ridiculous proposal out of his mind.