Veritas was cold and pouring rain, but in Monica's cottage a
roaring fire made the living room cozy. Monica sat on the couch,
and Kemara curled up in an easy chair by the window. A pot
of tea was set out on the coffee table between them with a plate
of sugar cookies.
"Man, it's really coming down out there!" Kemara said, taking
another cookie and dunking it in her cup. "I can't believe March
is here already, but I wish spring would show up soon."
Monica nodded absently, still caught up in memories of the night
before. She was used to Joshua's occasional appearances in human
form; but watching him with Arthur and her other friends was
"Are you OK?" Kemara asked. "You look a little pale."
The angel shook her head. "Sorry. The rain's just making me a wee
bit sleepy. And we were out so late last night."
"I know! That's why I'm glad you suggested we have tea. JenniAnn
was guzzling coffee all morning. More so than usual even for her."
She wrinkled her nose. "I like one cup, but that's enough."
"Ah, you've just never had the right kind of coffee," Monica
teased. "I'll have Arthur make you a latte, and then you'll
They both laughed.
"So....did you get a chance to speak to Joshua last night or
during lunch?" Monica asked casually.
Kemara suddenly became very interested in the rose pattern on her
cup. "Andrew introduced us last night, and we all talked about the
show this afternoon. He seems really nice. He's
"Yes, he is." Monica studied her young friend closely, noting the
blush creeping into her cheeks.
"He knew I'm a dancer - Andrew's really clued him in on all of us.
He said he was looking forward to seeing the posters. That reminds
me....I need to bring Andrew some proofs tomorrow. I had this one
"Kemara." Monica's gentle tone broke into the woman's rambling. "I
know you think you have to lock your heart away so you won't get
hurt again. But when you do that, you shut out all the love and
all the gifts that God wants to give you."
"I know." She shrugged. "I guess I've just gotten a little
paranoid. I...I had a friend - much older than me - who thought I
wanted to be more than just friends. I have no clue how to flirt,
but I guess he thought that's what I was doing." She grimaced.
"There's a guy in my dance class - Sean. I really like him, but
I'm afraid to say anything."
Monica smiled. "I understand. Really, I do." She sighed. "When I
saw Arthur again after all those years. It took all the courage I
had to speak to him. And because I did, wonderful things
"Well, Arthur's pretty great." Kemara said. "But not everyone is.
And I'm not just talking about guys either." She shook her head,
disgusted. "I thought I'd gotten over this when we were helping
Ivy. I mean, look at JenniAnn - Bennie's treated her awful time
and time again. But she keeps trying to mend things between them."
"Don't be so hard on yourself. And no, maybe everyone isn't great.
But that doesn't mean you stop loving and stop letting yourself be
loved," Monica pointed out. "Talk to Joshua when you have the
chance - really talk. I think he might surprise you."
Kemara sniffled and wiped her eyes on her napkin. "That's what
Violeta said. I'll try."
"Good." Monica sat back. "Now, last night you said you had an idea
for a get-together?"
"Yeah," Kemara set down her cup. "I'd like to have a St. Patrick's
Day ceili for the cast and crew. I thought maybe the 15th. That's
a Saturday. I know two weeks isn't much time, but we have been
"I think that's a wonderful idea! How can I help?"
"I haven't worked out all the details yet...." Kemara got up to
rummage through her purse and returned with a notepad and pen. "So
"Alright. First, where would we have it?" Monica said.
"I'm sure Fr. Mike would let us use the fellowship hall and the
kitchen. We could probably do it for free, but I'd feel better
paying a little something." Kemara jotted a note to call the
"Umm....What about food?"
Monica thought for a minute. "Well, scones are traditional and
easy. And tea, of course."
"And beer. And maybe Irish coffee...." She caught sight of
Monica's expression. "Oh, maybe not that. Sorry, I forgot."
"It's OK," Monica said with a grimace. "I just don't think I can
drink that again."
"I don't blame you! What about corned beef and cabbage? I know
it's not really traditional, but you can put it in a crock pot.
We'd need more than one, though."
"I'm sure that wouldn't be a problem." Monica said. "We could do
all the cooking at the church to make it easier."
More scribbling in the note pad. "I'll ask some of the folks at my
dance class about desserts. I might make some shortbread. And
speaking of dancing....What if we had the tunnel kids come in and
do a little drama or a skit? Just to show off what they've been
One of the first things Kemara had done when she moved to New York
was to look for an Irish dancing school that was as supportive of
adult students as her old one had been. She found the Inishfree
School, and took classes at the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan
several times a week.
After a few months, she'd approached Vincent and Father about
giving lessons to the tunnel children. With their support, soon
almost every child between the ages of 5 and 13 was learning reels
"But would Jacob let them come?" Monica asked. "If anyone started
It always surprised Kemara to hear the patriarch of the tunnel
community called by his given name.
"Huh." She chewed the end of her pen for a minute, thinking.
"Well, if they just show up, do the dance and leave then he might
be OK with that. And I could just say that they're some local kids
I've been teaching which is totally true."
She leaned forward excitedly. "And I thought of something else
A half hour later, Kemara glanced at her watch and jumped up.
"I've gotta go! Rehearsal starts at five, and I wanted to go back
through the Tunnels so I can talk to Father about our plans."
Monica stood up too and pulled the woman into a hug. "Have fun!
And don't worry."
"Try not to get worried. Try not to hold onto problems that upset
you," Kemara sang, laughing. "I'll do my best."
The next week flew by so quickly Kemara felt as if she had
forgotten to breathe.
had enthusiastically agreed to let them use the hall and refused
to take any payment. So she had dropped an extra check into
the collection plate with a note asking that it be used for Sunday
"Do we want to hire a ceili band?" Monica asked.
Kemara shook her head. "I don't think we can this close to
St. Pat's. All the groups will have been booked solid for a
month. Sean's dad has a really good sound system, and I'll
just burn everything to a CD."
She looked down at her list. "OK. We've got the hall,
music, food... various people have offered to make or bring
something, so I think we're OK there."
"Have you talked to -" Monica gestured vaguely. "yet?"
Kemara glanced around to make sure no one was close enough to
overhear. "Yeah, I stopped by a couple of days ago. He
said he would."
"I hope it doesn't cause any problems."
"If it does, he'll deal with them." Kemara assured
her. She took a stack of cards out of her bag and handed
them to the angel. "I got the invitations done, so we can
hand them out tonight."
"Very nice! I like the wee birds," Monica laughed. "Do they
"I was thinking JenniAnn and Andrew would be appropriate," Kemara
said, teasing. "Or maybe you and Arthur."
Monica studied the invitation again, pursing her lips in
concentration. "No, actually I think it looks more like Max
Max, who was sitting a few seats away, caught his name turned to
look at them.
Monica gave him a bright smile and a wave as Kemara said, loud
enough for him to hear, "You know...I think you're right.
Definitely Max and Rose."
At rehearsal, Andrew had them working on the scene where Jesus is
mobbed by the poor. The crowd whirled around Joshua, to the
right and then the left, faster and faster. Suddenly,
Kemara's head felt light and there was a roaring in her ears.
"Oh gosh...I can't faint...I can't!"
She woke looking into a pair of brown eyes as dark as her
own. For a minute she was afraid, confused. Then peace
settled over her like a blanket. She wanted nothing more
than to stare into those eyes which saw and accepted all that she
The owner of the eyes - was it Joshua? - drew back, and a babble
of voices overwhelmed her.
"Give her some air."
"Did she hit her head?"
"No, Owen and Diana grabbed her in time."
"Should we call 911?"
"That was so scary!"
Then Andrew was beside her. He put an arm around her back
and helped her sit up. "You OK?"
"Yeah, I just got a little light headed."
He frowned. "You passed out. That's more than a little light
headed, I think. Go sit down for a while."
She almost protested, but thought better of it. "Thanks. I
guess I'd better."
He pulled her to her feet. "Everybody take a five minute
break." With Andrew on one side and Owen on the other, they
guided Kemara down the stairs and into a seat.
The angel crouched in front of her looking more stern than she'd
ever seen him. "Have you eaten at all today?"
"I had breakfast...." she mumbled not meeting his eyes.
"And you came straight here after dance class?"
"Yeah," she sighed. "I'm sorry, Andrew. I've been so
busy I just forgot to grab something for lunch."
"Here - I brought a bunch of granola bars." Kylie dropped
two maple and brown sugar pouches into her lap.
"And I have an extra Gatorade." Zeke passed her an orange
Kemara flushed as the others crowded around. "I'm OK!
My blood sugar just bottomed out, I think." She opened the
Gatorade and took a long drink. "I didn't realize how
thirsty I was."
Andrew gave her a hug. "You stay put. Zeke and I can
run through 'Heaven on Their Minds' a few times. Let
everybody have a breather."
"OK. Thanks, Andrew."
Joshua had been listening. "Actually, why don't Kemara and I
go pick up dinner? You did say this would be one of our
"That's a great idea!" Andrew saw a look of unease flit
across Kemara's face but she hid it quickly. Even though
she'd been working with Joshua for the past two weeks, Andrew knew
she still a little wary. He had seen how Joshua watched her,
longing to soothe all her fears.
"Zeke, Emma - I thought we could do 'Heaven' a couple of times,"
Andrew said turning to them. "I wanted to work on that one
The others wandered off or settled into seats around the
auditorium. Kemara sipped her Gatorade, keenly aware of
Joshua sitting beside her. He'd been friendly with the
entire cast and crew, but despite Monica's suggestion, she still
hadn't really talked to him.
"Finish eating, and I'll call in our order," he said, pulling a
red cell phone from his pocket. He looked up at the stage
where Andrew and Zeke were discussing the opening number.
"Maybe I'd better go outside. Come find me when you're
Kemara nodded. "Sure thing." She opened the granola
bars while Andrew hunted for the correct place in the soundtrack.
Five minutes later she zipped up her jacket and found Joshua in
the alley that ran alongside the theater. He was talking to
a large, black-haired man in jeans and a flannel shirt with the
sleeves rolled up to show his muscular arms.
"Kemara!" Joshua beckoned. "There's someone I want you to
She made her way over to them, walking carefully around piles of
slush from the recent snowfall.
"Kemara is this is John, my cousin."
"Older cousin," John said promptly. He put out a huge hand
and shook hers with surprising gentleness.
Joshua rolled his eyes. "Alright. Older cousin.
You're never going to let me forget that are you?"
"Nope." John grinned, totally unrepentant. "Six months
is six months!"
"Well, at least try to behave yourself. This is
Kemara. She's in the chorus and doing the all the posters
and playbills for us."
John raised his eyebrows. "Oh really? I've seen the
flyers. They're very eye catching. And I've heard
people talking. They'd forgotten this place was here."
He gestured at the theater. "But now they want to see the
She flushed. "Thanks, but I didn't draw them or
anything. Just threw a few graphics together."
"Hey, that's nothing to scoff at," John said. He turned to
"Where are you sneaking off to? Trying to get out of work,
Joshua grinned. "Not this time. We're going to pick up
food of everyone. I called in an order to Moishe's.
Want to come along?"
"Nah," John shook his head. "Got a lead on a couple of jobs
for you. I told them I'd stop by before 7."
"Oh, before you go...." Joshua held out the cell
phone. "You can have this back. Thanks for letting me
John took it looking relieved. "No problem. I've
missed it all day. Such a convenient little thing...."
He shoved the phone in a pocket. "Well, I'm off. It
was nice meeting you, Kemara." With a wave he headed down
the alley towards the parking lot.
Joshua turned to her. "Why don't we walk since it's still
light? Actually," he admitted with a wry smile, "We could
take my car, but I'd have to clean it out first. I think I
counted three hammers down in the floorboard the other day."
He led the way out of the alley and turned left once they were on
Kemara laughed. "Sounds like my dad's truck! He used
to custom-build furniture, and now he does flooring and stair
parts. So I'm used to wood glue, boxes of nails - stuff like
that in all our vehicles."
They walked in silence for a few minutes. Kemara was
surprised at how comfortable she felt with Joshua - like he was an
old friend she'd met again after a long separation.
"So how do you like living up here?"
She thought for a minute, and realized no one had asked
before. "Well, it's....it's different that's for sure.
I like being able to get around pretty much anywhere on the
subway. But sometimes I miss the trees!"
"You can always visit Central Park." They dodged around two street
preachers and a woman with a Mohawk who was walking a baby tiger
on a leash.
"I did once....and it was nice, just not the same." She
shrugged. "I guess I'll always be a Georgia girl at
heart. What's that song...'If Heaven Ain't a Lot Like
Dixie'? And where am I now? New York City."
Joshua burst out laughing. It was such a happy sound that
several people turned around to stare, but he seemed not to
notice. "Well, maybe there's a bit of New York in Heaven,
Moishe's Kosher Deli was so shabby and nondescript that Kemara
almost walked right past it before Joshua stopped her.
"Here we are. It doesn't look like much, but the food's
He held open the door, letting out a waft of warm air strong with
the smells of pickles, fresh baked bread and coffee.
The inside of the restaurant was just as rundown as the
outside. A long, Formica counter lined with stools ran along
the right side. Several booths took up of most of left half
leaving a narrow aisle between them. The menu on the wall
was faded and the vinyl of the booths had duct tape where rips had
"Shalom!" Joshua called. The door closed behind them, making
the bell above it jangle loudly.
"Joshua! Shalom!" An elderly man in a stained apron bustled
out from the kitchen wiping his hands on a towel. His nearly
bald head and very wrinkled neck gave him an amazing resemblance
to a turtle.
He met them at the counter looking cross. "What is
this? Shortly before I am to close for the Sabbath, you call
me and want food for twenty-five people!" He threw up his
Joshua grinned. "So you're saying it's not ready yet,
"You are very lucky that an engagement party was cancelled, just
the minute before you called." He snorted. "I'm giving
you what they would've had. My grandsons are packing it up
now." He jerked a thumb over his shoulder at the kitchen.
"I wanted to talk to you anyway, Joshua." He took a piece of
paper from under the cash register and shoved it at them.
Kemara recognized it as one of the JCS posters. "These are
all over town."
Joshua hoisted himself up on a stool and gestured for Kemara to do
the same. "And?"
"And?" Moishe's eyes grew even rounder. "I can understand
helping the theater. Nice little place - Betty and I used to
go there all the time - ten, fifteen years ago." He waved a
hand dismissively. "But something like this....Jesus
drivel....it's not right for a good Jew to be part of." He
slammed a fist down on the poster.
Kemara nearly laughed but managed to turn it into a cough.
Moishe glared at her.
"Rabbi Yakov and his wife are advising us," Joshua told the old
man calmly. "I don't think they will steer us wrong.
You should come." He ignored Moishe's sputtering.
"You're right. The theater is a nice place, and it would be
a shame to see it close for good."
Moishe frowned. "Yakov, you say? Well....I won't
promise anything. If I do come it will be for the theater...
and you. Not for this." He balled up the poster and
tossed it in trash.
Three little boys ran in from the kitchen each carrying two
plastic shopping bags. "Here is your food! Are you
sure the two of you can manage? She looks like a strong
breeze would blow her away."
They slid down from their stools and Joshua took out his
wallet. "Oh, I think we'll be fine. It's not far, and
Kemara's stronger than she looks."
They said goodbye to Moishe, and dividing up the bags, headed back
to the theater.
"Do you think he'll come?" Kemara asked. "He did seem really
Joshua shrugged. "Moishe's a good man even if he does act
like a snapping turtle sometimes. I pray he does come, but I
learned a long time ago that you can't push people. You can
only tell them the truth and let them make up their own minds."
When they returned to St. Genesius, they found JenniAnn and
Annabelle had joined the group in the auditorium.
"We're just visiting for a lil while," JenniAnn said helping them
unpack the bags of sandwiches and chips while Andrew visited with
Belle. "We stopped by to see her grandparents and since we
were already in the area...."
She edged over to Kemara and lowered her voice so the others
wouldn't hear. "The kids were pretty wild. Extra
excited about something. That wouldn't have anything to do
with tomorrow would it?"
Kemara concentrated on pouring out cups of soda and didn't look at
her. "Don't know what you're talking about."
"You're a bad liar," JenniAnn teased. "OK. I won't pry
"Thanks. I wouldn't want to give anything away," Kemara
When JenniAnn decided to head out, Kemara offered to pack up
Belle’s things while mother and baby made their good byes.
"You've got the parade in the morning, right?" Violeta asked as
they gathered up the baby's things.
"Yeah, it starts at 11, but lineup is at 9 or something like
that. And you've got to get everyone together, make sure
they look OK." Kemara wrinkled her nose. "All that
stuff. That's why I'm going to bed early."
Violeta smiled. "Well, some of us will be there, I'm not sure who,
but we'll yell when you go by."
"Thanks! That would be great. They tell me the whole
parade lasts about two and a half hours, but I think Inishfree is
pretty close to the front. So you won't have to stand out in
the cold unless you want to."
"We'll bundle up! I have a really cool scarf Adam made me
that I've been wanting to wear."
Kemara's jaw dropped. "Woah, woah.... Back up the
truck! Adam can knit?"
Violeta giggled. "Yeah an elderly - patient - he was
visiting in hospice care taught him. She said if they were
just going to sit around and wait for her to die they might
as well stay busy."
"Oh, that's too funny! Well, not to be mean, but either Adam
learns fast or she must've taken a long time to die."
"You know, I asked him about that," Violeta mused. "He said
teaching him gave her a second wind or something, and she hung on
about a week longer than anyone expected."
The weather the next day, while clear, was very cold, and Kemara
was grateful to be wearing a green Inishfree sweatshirt and jeans
instead of the green and gold embroidered school dress. Since
floats were not allowed, everyone walked - or danced - the entire
1.5 mile route.
"At least it isn't snowing like it did last year," said one of the
teens as they drew close to the reviewing stands.
Her friend nodded. "Yeah. This is just cold. That was wet and
While she enjoyed participating, Kemara had just as much fun
watching the spectators who wore all manner of "Irish" apparel
including shamrock headbands, face paint, red wigs. Two gentlemen
had even colored their beards green, white and orange.
The highlight was spotting, just past St. Patrick's Cathedral, a
sizable Dyeland/JCS contingent who cheered loudly as Inishfree
passed. Violeta - once again demonstrating her fondness for flags
- had an Irish one which she waved enthusiastically from under a
green and white striped cap. The "cool scarf" turned out to be a
knitted snake - green, of course - with orange button eyes.
Rose and Max had generously offered to skip the parade in favor of
getting the fellowship hall set up at St. Mary Magdalene's. Monica
and Arthur would head over later with the rest of the food.
Kemara caught a glimpse of the pair with Peter, Emma and Kylie,
and behind them....was that Joshua and his cousin, John? But
though she strained to see, they were soon left behind.
"Friends of yours?" asked Sean beside her as they came in view of
She grinned. "Yeah, the ones we've got the party for at the church
"Oh, speaking of, Dad said to tell you he'll be glad to call a
couple of ceili dances since he's bringing the sound equipment
"Awesome! Keith rocks...Just don't tell him I said that," she
Sean laughed. "Nah, wouldn't want him to get a swelled head or
At the end of the parade route, they picked up their bags and
caught the subway for the first of a half dozen performances in
what promised to be a very long day.
Kemara stood in the doorway that led
from the classrooms into the
fellowship hall watching as people
arrived. The Inishfree dancers had
shown up an hour ago to find tables
and chairs set up at one end of the
room. Two longer tables on one side
held all the food and drinks. She
was glad Max and Rose hadn't
overdone it with the decorations.
Each table had a simple green cloth
and a small golden pot of real
shamrocks in the center.
She looked over her shoulder at the
four children and seven adults who
waited in the hallway.
They nodded and she signaled to
Keith, who was standing across the
hall next to the stereo. The opening
notes of "Shipping Up to Boston" by
the Dropkick Murphys blasted over
the speakers, and the crowd quickly
found their seats.
"Shipping Up to Boston"
The dance came to a thunderous
conclusion, followed by cheers and
clapping from the audience. As the
others bowed, Kemara walked over to
a microphone that had been set up to
"Céad mile failté! A hundred
thousand welcomes! It's great to see
everybody. First, I want to thank to
our younger dancers for helping us
out tonight. They really need to get
to another show right now, so let's
give them a big round of applause."
The four children bowed and skipped
out again to more clapping.
"I want to thank Fr. Mike for
letting us use the kitchen and the
hall. And I'd especially like to
thank my classmates....." She
gestured to where they sat off to
one side, "for turning down a
lucrative night of pub dancing to
entertain us instead."
"Especially since they were paying
us in free beer!" Sean called back,
only half joking.
Kemara looked surprised. "But I
thought you gave up drinking for
"Oh. Yeah, I did." He had the good
grace to join in the laughter.
"Well, we have plenty of food and
drink," Kemara assured them. "But
you'll have to work up an appetite
for it first. Everybody stand up and
gather in the middle here. Come on!"
With some good-natured protesting,
they complied. In a few minutes, the
Inishfree dancers had them divided
into lines, men on one side, women
on the other.
"I'm going to turn this over to
Keith and jump in myself." Kemara
said handing the microphone to an
older man in jeans and a Guinness
sweatshirt. She squeezed herself
into line ending up across from
Peter and next to Rose.
"Hey folks!" Keith called. "My name
is Keith, and I've been teaching
ceili dancing at the Irish Arts
Center for about 10 years now. If
you've never heard of ceili dancing,
don't worry, It's very easy to
learn. But I need you to do one
thing for me first. Everybody hold
up your right hand."
Hands rose uncertainly...except for
Owen who jokingly raised his left.
"Your other right, young man!" Keith
said pointing. "OK. Now we're sure
you all know your right from your
left - except for him. This dance
we're gonna do is the Waves of Tory,
and you'll find out why it's called
that in just a minute."
He taught them to advance and
retire, turn and promenade. And then
the "wave" ducking under raised
arms, turning and ducking again.
After a few walk-throughs, they
tried it at full speed with the
music - resulting in gales of
laughter as people quickly forgot
their right from their left, or got
the "waves" tangled up.
The Waves of Tory
When they stood in their rows once
more, panting and disheveled, Keith
"That was great! I'll tell you, it
helps that you're all adults. Doing
that one with little kids as part of
the mix can be....interesting." He
shuddered dramatically, and everyone
laughed. "OK. I'll let you take a
break for some of that food and
drink Kemara mentioned. But I'm
gonna get you back out here again
before the night's over, so don't
try to hide."
Chattering, the crowd hurried to
fill their plates with corned beef
and cabbage, brown bread, scones,
trifle, shamrock shakes and fruit
with a Bailey's dip.
Kemara found herself at a table with
Monica, Emma and Rose. She barely
had time to set down her plate
before Violeta came up and gave her
a huge hug.
"That was SO much fun!" she
squealed. "I could do that all
Kemara grinned back. She wasn't
surprised this form of dancing
appealed to the young angel who
always had energy to spare. "There's
a ceili at Irish Arts every
Wednesday night. You could come when
you're not busy."
"I might do that!" Violeta waved at
someone behind Kemara. "Oh! There's
Jenni Ann and Andrew with
Annabelle." She dashed off.
The sound of a fork tapping against
a glass made everyone stop talking.
"Fr. Mike, if you would be kind
enough to bless the food for us?"
Monica asked. Everyone rose
The priest shook his head.
"Actually, I think I'll let Joshua
have the honor if he doesn't mind."
"Of course not." Joshua reached out
and took Zeke's hand. Around the
room, the others did the same until
all were connected. "Loving God,
bless all those gathered here today
as we come together in friendship
and fellowship. Thank you for food
in a world where many know only
hunger; For our faith in a world
where many know fear; For friends in
a world where many know only
loneliness. For all of this we give
you thanks. Amen."
"Amen," they echoed.
JenniAnn made her way over to their
table balancing a plate in one hand,
a cup in the other and trying to
keep the diaper bag on her shoulder.
Rose jumped up and grabbed the cup
before it could spill.
"Thanks," JenniAnn said. "I still
haven't gotten used to hauling this
thing around." She set down the bag
with a sigh.
Rose looked around. "Speaking
of....where is Annabelle? And where
have all the guys run off to?"
JenniAnn gestured back over her
shoulder with a grin. "There's the
answer to both questions."
Looking where she pointed, the
others saw Andrew, Joshua, Arthur
and Max at a table across the room.
Joshua held Annabelle, and group was
surrounded by JCS cast members and
even a few Inishfree dancers.
"Four men and a baby....Oh that's
too sweet!" Kemara said reaching for
the Nikon which she had asked Rose
to bring for her. "I've gotta get a
She hurried over and took several
photos from various angles. Joshua
insisted on keeping Annabelle with
him, so Andrew, Arthur and Max
joined the others.
"Are you sure he doesn't mind?"
JenniAnn kept glancing back to where
Joshua and Fr. Mike were deep in
conversation while Joshua rocked the
now-sleeping baby in his arms.
"He offered to, Laja," Andrew
reassured her. "He'll bring her back
if she gets fussy."
Rose chuckled. "JenniAnn, I'd take
advantage of people offering to
babysit if I were you."
JenniAnn smiled. "I know, but it's
just so new, ya know? I hate to let
her out of my sight." She blinked
back the tears that had been
breaking out unexpectedly for the
"Just wait until she hits the
'terrible twos'," Monica teased.
"You'll be glad to hand her over to
"I don't doubt it, but -" JenniAnn
broke off and winced. "Uh oh.
Violeta's got Keith cornered."
Kemara craned her neck to look.
"Yeah, I think Keith's just found
his most enthusiastic student."
Rose took a bite of her corned beef.
"This is really good! Who made it?"
Arthur grinned. "Fr. Mike; would you
believe it? He put it on last night,
and he said he's been up since dawn
making sure it would be perfect."
"I hope we can get him to perform
for us later," Kemara said.
"JenniAnn told me he can sing and
play a couple of instruments."
JenniAnn shrugged. "I think he plays
the bodhran or the tin whistle."
"And Joshua has his guitar," Monica
Emma sighed. "I always wanted to be
able to play something. I took all
kinds of lessons as a kid - piano,
violin, flute - but other than
singing, nothing stuck."
"It's a lovely talent," Monica said
a bit wistfully.
"You don't sing, then?"
The angel blushed. "Uh, no." She
looked down at her plate, clearly
wanting Emma to drop the subject.
Arthur patted her hand. "Hey, you
don't sound bad to me. I bet if you
just had a few lessons...."
She smiled at him. "Thank you. I
don't think -"
Kemara saw Keith making his way over
and interrupted, "Speaking of
Arthur looked up, surprised. "What's
"Oh, just a wee bit of
storytelling." Monica said and took
the microphone Keith brought her.
As they finished dessert she told
them - with more of a brogue than
usual in her lilting voice - the
story of how Ireland got its name.
"Centuries ago, in the time of the
Tuatha de Danaan, there were three
kings, Eathur, Teathur and Ceathur.
And each king had a wife. Their
names were Banba, Fodhla and Eire.
It was a time of peace and
prosperity on the island. One
hundred and ninety-seven years
passed without a war. It was so
peaceful that even very good friends
The father of the three kings
decided to hold a clan gathering,
and he thought, 'I'm wantin' to have
a grand time this year. A contest
would really liven things up.'
So when everyone was gathered, he
told the people: 'It would be very
nice if our island were named after
one of our lovely queens.'
So the people started to talk about
who was the most elegant, the most
gracious, the most benevolent of the
three women and which should have
the honor. The father of the kings
was pleased, and he thought the
gathering was already seemin'
Each queen set out to prove she was
the worthiest one. For the entire
week of the gathering, not once did
they lose their tempers, and no one
heard them say an unkind word. When
they went out, their dresses and
hair were beautiful. The people were
dazzled, and they wondered how one
could be chosen over the other.
But the old man was very clever. The
night before the announcement was to
be made, he visited each queen
separately in her private quarters.
'It's you who are my favorite queen.
I want it to be you the land is
named after. In the morning the
three of you will go for a walk.
After you leave, I will tell the
people that the first queen to
return will win. If it happens to be
you, the island will be known
forever in your name.'
So the next morning, the queens got
ready for their walk, each one
wearing her finest dress and all the
gold she owned. They walked
leisurely, so their elegance could
be seen. Out they glided very
serenely through the gate of the
The people were told about the
contest, and went to the ramparts to
watch the progress of the three
Very ladylike, they were, as they
walked out to the turning point.
They turned, leisurely and elegant,
because they knew they were being
Banba was the first to pick up the
pace and went out in front. Fodhla
and Eire quickened their own steps.
Fodlha took the lead, and the others
quickened the pace, again. Unable to
keep up at a walk Eire broke into a
jog, kicking off her sandals. The
others did the same. Encumbered by
her skirt, Banba picked up the hem
and flung it over her shoulder. The
other queens followed suit. They
neared the Dun at a flat out run,
leaning forward in the effort so
they could inch out ahead of the
On the ramparts the people were
beside themselves. Some were
laughin' so hard they could barely
When the queens were near the gate,
their hair was flying and their
dresses wrinkled. Did I mention that
it had been a soft evening the night
before, meanin' it had been raining?
Well, it had, and the entry to the
dun had been trod into mud. Through
the slop the three queens ran,
splattering themselves and and their
Now, you all know who the winner
was. The beautiful, elegant and very
ladylike, Queen Eire was the first
through the gate. True to his word,
the old man bestowed the name of
Eire on the island, by which it is
So you see, the land was named after
a worthy queen and one who brought
joy and laughter, as well. Whether
she enjoyed the laugh, herself, we'd
not be knowin'."
"So is that a true story?" Arthur
asked when she finished, only half
joking. Emma, of course, didn't know
that Monica was old enough have
witnessed the contest.
The angel glanced at him sidelong.
"Maybe. Maybe not."
Kemara took the microphone from
Monica. "Who's next?"
Zeke stood up, grinning. "I'd like
to propose a toast." He waited while
everyone raised their glasses.
"Here's to your coffin. May it be
built of 100-year-old oaks which
will we plant together tomorrow."
"Here, here," Adam, Henry and Eli
chorused as the others laughed.
"Anybody else?" Kemara called.
Adam stood and reached for the mic.
"I do have something...." He pulled
a piece of paper from his back
pocket. Unfolding it, he began to
read in an exaggerated Irish accent.
"Dear Boss, I write this note to
you, to tell you of my plight and at
the time of writing I am not a
pretty sight. Me body is all black
and blue and me face a deathly gray.
And I hope you'll understand, why
Paddy's not at work today."
His listeners chuckled.
"I was workin' on the 14th floor,
some bricks I had to clear. And
throwin' them down from such a
height was not a good idea. The
foreman wasn't very pleased, he
bein' an awful sod. He said I'd have
to take them down the ladder in me
Now shiftin' all those bricks by
hand it seemed so awfully slow. So I
hoisted up a barrel and secured a
Here, Adam dropped the note and
mimed pulling on a rope and tying a
"But in my haste to do the job, I
was too blind to see that a barrel
full of buildin' bricks was heavier
They laughed as they realized where
the story was headed.
"Now when I came down I cut the
rope, and the barrel fell like lead.
And clinging tightly to the rope, I
started up instead."
Adam choked back a laugh of his own,
and continued. "I shot up like a
rocket and to my dismay I found -"
He looked up in alarm. "That
halfways up, I met the bloody barrel
More laughter. JenniAnn wiped tears
from her eyes.
"Now the barrel broke me shoulder,
as to the ground it sped. And when I
reached the top, I struck the pulley
with me head. I still clung on
though numbed in shock, from this
almighty blow. And the barrel
spilled out half the bricks 14
"Now when the bricks had fallen from
the barrel to the floor, I then
outweighed the barrel and I started
down once more. Still clinging
tightly to the rope, I headed for
the ground and I fell among the
broken bricks that were all
Adam threw himself to the floor in a
dramatic sprawl, one arm upraised as
though holding onto an invisible
rope. A few people stood up in order
to see him better.
From his prone position the angel of
death went on: "As I lay there
moaning on the floor, I thought I'd
passed the worst. But the barrel
struck the pulley wheel and then the
bottom burst. A shower of bricks
came down on me, sure I hadn't got a
hope. And as I was losing
consciousness, I let go the bloody
rope." He opened his hand and let
his arm fall.
His listeners were convulsed with
mirth. Monica had one arm wrapped
around her middle as she giggled
"Now the barrel it being heavier, it
started down once more. It landed
right across me, as I lay there on
the floor. I broke three ribs and my
left arm and I can only say...."
Adam dragged himself into a sitting
position. "That I hope you'll
understand why Paddy's not at work
today!" He flopped back on the floor
in mock exhaustion as everyone
whooped and cheered.
"Adam, you should've been an actor,"
Kemara said. "We've got some more
entertainment planned, but we'll
open up the floor again later on."
As the guests stood and stretched
and threw away their empty plates,
the Inishfree dancers gathered at
the front of the room.
"The is another traditional dance
called The Cross Reel, we've just
spiced up the music a bit."
The Cross Reel
As they bowed, the music changed to
something light and bubbly. A young
girl skipped between the adults. Her
bright pink and gold satin was
embroidered in green and blue with
black lace on the sleeves and hem. A
matching headband held back her
"Wait...." JenniAnn grabbed Andrew's
hand and squeezed it tightly. "Is
Andrew grinned. "Yeah, it sure is. I
didn't know she'd gotten so good."
Annabelle was awake in his arms, and
he turned her around so she could
watch her big sister.
The Inishfree adults moved back to
edges of the dance floor to give
Shelby room as the girl leaped and
twirled. She came right up to them,
nearly stepping on JenniAnn's own
toes - quite deliberately - before
skimming off in the opposite
"Go Shelby!" Max called.
She finished with neat bow and a
A few minutes later, now dressed in
a green Inishfree sweatshirt and
jeans, she made her way to their
table. People patted her back or
hugged her as she moved through the
crowd. JenniAnn gave her a huge hug,
while Andrew moved over so she could
sit between the two of them.
"You were wonderful, sweetie!"
JenniAnn said. Andrew, who was still
holding Annabelle, kissed Shelby's
"Yeah, Shel. That was pretty
Shelby blushed. "Thanks. I was a
little scared at first, but it was
JenniAnn gave her a mock frown. "But
you almost stepped on my toes!"
The girl giggled. "I know! That was
Miss Kemara's idea."
"Well, not that....exactly. She told
me to 'use the stage' and move
around a lot, so I did."
"I should say so!" Andrew teased. "I
don't think your feet were touching
the ground half the time."
Keith came back over to the
microphone. "Ready to work off all
that food?" he asked cheerfully.
Several people groaned. "Now,
now. None of that!" He motioned for
them to stand up. "I'll go easy on
you this time."
"Easy, he says...." Owen muttered.
Keith had them divide into groups of
eight, two couples facing two
couples down the length of the hall.
"This one's called the Siege of
Ennis. If you go over to Ireland and
stop by a pub, this is the dance
they teach the tourists," he joked.
"Because it's so simple even the
non-Irish can do it."
Watch The Siege of Ennis
While they were catching their
breath, Keith and the Inishfree
dancers set up screens partitioning
off the back of the hall. In front
of the screens they placed two
microphones several feet apart.
Kemara waited for Keith's nod and
went over to one of the mics. "As
y'all have probably noticed by now,"
she said with an exaggerated drawl.
"I'm from the South." She waited for
the chuckles to die away and went
on. "And as much as I've come to
love New York, sometimes I still
miss Georgia - the slower pace, the
warmer weather, the trees. So, some
friends of mine have agreed to help
bring a little bit of Georgia to New
As she sat down again, a large group
of children filed around the
screens. They wore jeans and red or
white shirts. A teenage boy in red
and a small boy in white carried
violin cases. The two groups ranged
themselves on either side of the
room, with the string players in
front of the microphones.
"Sharks versus Jets, do you think?"
JenniAnn whispered to Andrew. "I
knew Kemara had something planned
with all the kids."
Andrew whispered back. "I think
there's more to it." He grinned when
JenniAnn shot him a look.
"Andrew! What do you know?"
He hushed her. "Just watch." He had
discovered the secret about twenty
minutes earlier when he'd carried
Annabelle outside for some fresh
The music started and the older boy
raised his violin and joined in.
People smiled as they recognized the
tune. The angels looked over at
Joshua to see his reaction. He was
"The devil went down to Georgia. He
was looking for a soul to steal..."
A ripple of surprise went through
the crowd as the Dyelanders and
angels realized who the narrator
JenniAnn sat frozen in total shock
with her mouth open. "Vincent?
Andrew doubled with laughter at her
expression. "I told you it was a
"Yeah, but I had no idea..." With a
huge effort she pulled herself back
to the performance.
"Boy, let me tell you what." The
older boy was speaking now. "I guess
you didn't know it, but I'm a fiddle
The younger boy stuck out his chin.
"My name's Johnny," he declared
loudly. "And it might be a sin. But
I'll take your bet...."
"Johnny rosin up your bow, and play
your fiddle hard," the other
The younger boy played as the angels
in white and the devils red danced.
"The devil opened up his case and he
said - "
"I'll start this show!" The "devil"
struck a pose and raised his bow.
"Fire flew from his fingertips as he
rosined up his bow. Then he drew the
bow across the strings and it made
an evil hiss." The high, screeching
note made everyone wince.
As the "devil" played, his "demons"
danced around him.
"He's really good," Emma whispered
to JenniAnn. "I'd love to know who
his teacher was."
Adam had made his way over to them,
ducking low to keep from blocking
anyone's view. He sat down on
Andrew's other side and leaned in
"So why aren't the AODs backing
Johnny up?" he joked low enough for
only his friend to hear. "Or Tess?
She could've gotten a real "band of
Andrew chuckled. "Too bad Tess
couldn't be here tonight; she'd love
this. You know, I wonder what Jacob
would say. Are they angels or
"Probably depends on when you're
Johnny took up the devil's challenge
and played better than anyone
expected for a child who looked no
older than 7. His "angels" made
short work of the "demons" driving
them to the far side of the room
with quick footwork.
"Devil, just come on back if you
ever want to try again," Johnny
hollered as the devil slunk away. "I
done told you once, you son of a
gun, I'm the best there's ever
The devil and Johnny played in
tandem to a rousing finish. The
audience jumped to their feet
applauding enthusiastically. The
children bowed and filed out again,
heading for the kitchen where Monica
and Rose had set out cookies and
milk for them.
"Those kids are really amazing!"
Emma said, shaking her head. "Do
they go to one of those private arts
JenniAnn shot Andrew a worried look,
unsure how to answer.
"They're part of a home school
group," Andrew explained. "They have
several different teachers including
JenniAnn and Owen. Kemara's been
giving them dance lessons."
Joshua came over to them. "JenniAnn,
I'd like to give the kids my
congratulations if that would be
"Sure! Come on, I'll introduce you."
Shelby jumped up. "I'll come too!"
JenniAnn led the way back to the
kitchen where they found Kemara and
the children giddy with success.
From of the corner of her eye, she
caught a flash of movement outside
the door as though someone had
ducked quickly out of sight.
She raised her eyebrows at Kemara
who nodded slightly. "Hey guys! You
were fantastic! I can't believe you
all kept this a secret from me for
so long!" She pretended to pout and
A tiny girl in red sidled over to
Joshua and stared up at him. "Who're
"You remember how I said we're doing
a play about Jesus?" JenniAnn said.
"This is Joshua; he's going to be
Joshua knelt down in front of the
child. "Hi. What's your name?"
"That's a pretty name. And you
danced very well." He looked up.
"All of you did. And that was some
awesome fiddling, you two!" he told
"How'd you get to be Jesus?" someone
"Andrew asked me to step in when the
first guy left."
From the back of the group, Becky
said, "Jesus is like one of those
Greek heroes we've been reading
"Yeah, but didn't they beat him up
and kill him and stuff?" Chris said
looking puzzled. "If he was a hero,
why didn't he stop them?" He studied
Joshua. "Does your play show all
Joshua hesitated, "Yeah, it does."
"Cool! Can we see it? Is there lots
of blood?" clamored some of the boys
and even one or two girls.
JenniAnn had been listening in
growing dismay. "No! Seeing a man
tortured and murdered is never
'cool'!" She turned to Joshua. "I'm
so sorry. I'm their religion
teacher, but my lessons must not
have stuck very well." She glared at
the children. They stared at the
"It's OK." Joshua said. He put an
arm around April who had started to
cry. "You know, Jesus was a hero in
a lot of ways, that's true. But, let
me ask you something, Chris."
Chris gulped. "Yes, sir?"
"Andrew is your friend right? And
"And you know what happened to them
in Afghanistan? How they got hurt?"
The boy nodded. "Was that cool?"
"No," Chris whispered almost too low
Joshua reached out and squeezed his
shoulder. "They had a job to do, and
they did it. They wanted to do it
for everyone back home. And Jesus
was the same. He had a job to do...A
very, very hard job. But he wanted
to do it for everyone on Earth." He
looked around at them all. "Yes,
they beat him up and killed him, but
he knew that was part of the job
when he took it."
Kemara had been listening, her arm
around Shelby. "But on Easter, Jesus
rose from the dead. He came back.
And that is very cool."
April looked up at Joshua, her lower
lip trembling. "My mommy died. Will
she come back, too?"
"No, honey; I'm sorry. But you'll
see her again."
Joshua smiled and raised her small
hand to his lips. "I promise."
She giggled and the other children
sighed and relaxed as though
released from a spell.
"Well, you guys eat up!" JenniAnn
urged. "We need to get you home
Joshua put April down and turned to
Kemara. "I could use something to
drink. Want to come see what's
left?" He knew JenniAnn wanted to
speak with Vincent - he had noticed
the swirl of the man's cloak as he
stepped back from the door.
"Sure. I hope there's some Bailey's.
I think I need a glass," Kemara
There was half a bottle. Joshua
picked it up along with two glasses
and led the way to a deserted table.
Keith had put on a CD, something by
Loreena McKennitt, she thought.
He poured them each a drink and
lifted his cup to hers. "Slainte."
"Slainte maith," Kemara said. "And
that's all my Gaelic."
"That was really great with the kids
just now," Joshua said after a few
minutes of comfortable silence.
"Actually, this whole night was a
wonderful idea. I know St. Patrick
She laughed. "Thanks. It just felt
like we all needed a break. Not that
I don't love the show and working on
it," she added hastily. "It's
"It's a little dark sometimes," he
agreed. "Yeah, I know. But if you
look beyond that, there's a lot of
She stared into her cup, thinking.
"Sometimes I don't understand why he
went through it all, you know? I
mean, obviously, I'm nowhere near
the worst person who's ever lived,
but I can't imagine anyone suffering
like that for me. I certainly
haven't done anything to deserve
it." She waved a hand. "Sorry. Don't
mind me; I get gloomy during Lent."
"He did it so that you might have
life and have it more abundantly,"
Joshua said. He thought for a
minute. "You've heard of St. Therese
- the Little Flower?"
Kemara nodded. "Yeah, I read some of
her autobiography and a couple of
"Well, do you remember the story of
how her older sister offered Therese
a basket of ribbons and asked her
which she wanted?"
"She said, 'I choose all." Kemara
smiled. "But...wasn't that being
Joshua chuckled. "For some kids,
maybe. But what she was saying was,
'I choose all that God wants for me
- the good and the bad. I'm totally
open to it.'" He reached across the
table and clasped her hands. "And
that's what an abundant life
means...being totally open to all
the love and all the gifts that God
wants to give you."
Kemara started as she recognized
Monica's exact words from two weeks
ago. But how could he possibly know?
Surely Monica hadn't said anything.
Joshua felt her hands tense as
though to pull away, and he
tightened his grip. "No, don't do
that. That's what I mean....you
can't pull away every time someone
gets close to your heart."
"Sorry. It's kind of a protective
instinct by now," she mumbled. She
stared at their hands to avoid his
eyes. Panic rose, threatening to
He didn't frighten her exactly. But
it felt as though she was standing
at the edge of a cliff, both
terrified and longing that someone
would push her off.
"Breathe," Joshua said quietly.
"In...." Obediently, she took a deep
breath. "And out." When she was
calmer, he asked, "Why is that such
a scary idea?"
She flushed. "Because I don't know
how to handle it." Her gaze flicked
to where Sean and his dad were
adjusting some cables on the
"You never know unless you give him
a chance," Joshua pointed out. He
smiled at her surprise. "What?"
"Promise you won't laugh?"
"Of course not!" He pretended to
look hurt, and she smiled.
"Well....Umm...You're not an angel
are you?" she said in a rush just to
get the words out. "Because I've
only told Monica about liking Sean.
I didn't think anyone else could
Joshua chuckled. "I'm flattered you
think so, but no. I'm just very
observant." He didn't miss the
disappointment that she quickly hid.
"And from what I've observed, I
think Sean likes you too."
"Really?" She glanced at the young
man again and then at Joshua. "Well,
you're a guy....what should I do?
Listen to me...I sound like I'm 16
with my first crush."
He released her hands. "Just relax
and be yourself. Let him come to you
if that's easier."
She nodded. "OK. That makes sense.
Thanks." She finished her drink and
stood up. "I'd better get back out
He took her hand again. "Wait. Will
you do me a favor? I'd really love
to see you dance - just you."
Kemara shifted nervously from foot
to foot. "Well, I'm not really that
good by myself. I do better with the
group stuff 'cause my balance isn't
"Please. For me?"
She stared at him. "Are you sure
you're not an angel?"
"Nope." He grinned. "I'll bring it
up in a few minutes so it won't look
like you're showing off. OK?"
"Alright. Just for you." For an
awful moment she had a strong urge
to kiss his cheek. She forced
herself to turn away and walk over
to Keith and Sean.
When she had gone, Andrew wandered
over and sat down. "What was that
about? If you can say, I mean. Laja
noticed Kemara was looking upset.
She wanted to come to her rescue,
but I made her wait."
"Thanks," Joshua watched the trio
who were now flipping through a
binder of CDs. "We had a good talk.
She wanted to know if I was an
Andrew grinned. "Really? And what
did you say?"
"I thanked her for the compliment
and said I was just observant." He
hesitated. "Very observant."
"Well, that's true! I'm really glad
you talked," Andrew said more
seriously. "I know what happened
over the summer helped her work
through a lot of things."
Joshua nodded. "Yes, but old habits
die hard, as the saying goes. Being
with all of you has helped her
tremendously. And if she - if things
- go right, that will help even
"You mean once she knows who you -"
Joshua held up a hand. "Hang on a
second." Andrew broke off, puzzled.
"Kemara!" Joshua called. "We haven't
seen you dance yet."
A chorus of voices echoed him.
"That's right," said Kylie. "You and
Monica planned all this, but we
haven't seen either of you get
Arthur looked surprised. He turned
to Monica. "You can dance? Like
She laughed. "Of course! I am Irish
after all. But I think Kemara should
For a second, Kemara looked
panicked. Then she held up her
hands. "OK. OK." She laughed, a
little shakily. "Wouldn't want to
make you guys beg or anything. Give
me just a minute."
She went over to her bag and began
to change shoes.
"You told her you would ask," Andrew
Joshua shrugged. "I didn't want to
take her completely by surprise or
she would've bolted."
Kemara walked to the middle of the
floor and nodded to Keith.
The fiddle tune was a slow and
haunting background to the quicker
taps from Kemara's shoes. She danced
with military precision, her gaze a
million miles away. Joshua watched
her, enchanted. And he wasn't the
only one, Andrew realized. Sean was
also watching Kemara intently. When
she stumbled slightly, he leaned
over and said something to Keith.
The music changed abruptly. The tune
was the same, but this time there
was a driving rock beat behind it.
Kemara laughed as Sean came out to
join her, turning the solo into a
duet. Joshua started to clap along,
and the others joined him.
They finished to thunderous
applause. Sean put an arm around
Kemara's waist and led her over to
As they passed Joshua, he reached
out and squeezed her hand.
"That was beautiful. Thank you."
She blushed. "You're welcome."
Andrew had pulled over a couple of
chairs for them. "Oh, I'm beat!"
Kemara said dropping into one. Sean
started toward the food tables, but
JenniAnn waved him back.
"Both of you sit down. I'll get you
something to drink."
"Tea, please," Kemara said, and Sean
"You guys must've practiced that for
hours," Rose said.
"Uh, no actually that was totally
off the cuff." He shrugged
dismissively. "It's something
you learn to do after a while."
"So you've been dancing for a long
time, then?" As JenniAnn set cups in
front of them, she noticed Kemara
was making point of not looking at
Sean chuckled. "Oh yeah! My
grandparents on my dad's side came
over from Ireland just after they
married. Trad music and dance is
really big in my family. Of course,
dad teaches, like he said. My
younger sister, Ciara, was really
big into step dancing when she was
younger - went to the World
Championships twice. Now, she helps
out at Inishfree when she has the
time. She has five kids though, so
that's not very often!"
They all laughed.
"And what about you?"
"I competed some too, but it was
never a big deal for me. When
Inishfree started adult classes, Dad
convinced me to give it a try. We go
to a feis every now and then, but
mostly it's just shows like tonight.
Folks in pubs are pretty impressed
by the easy stuff...especially after
they've had a few beers."
"Sometimes too much so," Kemara said
Sean grinned at her. "Well, yeah
there was that one guy who kept
trying to look up the girls'
"We weren't wearing skirts." She
reminded him. "We switched to pants
because of some idiot just like him
the week before!"
"He was drunk....I'm sure he
couldn't tell the difference."
More laughter at this.
"What's your story, Kemara?" Emma
Kemara shrugged. "Nothing amazing. I
saw Riverdance on TV and
fell in love. It took me six months
to get up the courage to call about
"Well, I didn't think any school
would take a 20-something adult with
cerebral palsy. But Eileen agreed to
try it. I had to fight my parents
tooth-and-nail since classes were an
hour away in Atlanta, but my best
friend agreed to do it too, so she
She sighed. "Eileen was wonderful.
She worked with me, and she was just
so supportive. When that first
competition came up, I figured
adults couldn't participate, but
Eileen was like, 'You're not dead,
They all laughed.
"So how did that go?" JenniAnn
asked. "I know you don't like
getting up in front of people." She
grinned. "Although, from what we've
seen tonight, you seem to have
gotten over it."
Kemara smiled, a bit embarrassed.
"Well, dancing's different. It's
just something I have to do, you
know? .... no matter who's watching.
The competition was exciting, and it
was probably good I didn't know much
about it all or I would have been
She took a sip of her tea, thinking.
"I was entered in the adult beginner
reel and jig...I think there were 12
other people. And the reel was
pretty much a disaster. I almost
fell. So the jig was in a different
room - we were at a hotel in the
ballrooms - and it was really small
"Anyway, as soon as I started to
dance I felt hands here -" She put
her hands on her hips. "holding me
steady." She flushed and looked
around as if challenging them to
doubt her. "I know that sounds
crazy, but I really could feel them!
Maybe it was just adrenaline, but
I've never danced as well, before or
since. I remember glancing down and
thinking, 'Is this me?' because it
was so amazing."
From the corner of her eye, JenniAnn
saw Monica trying to hide a smile.
"That's pretty cool," Sean said. "Do
you think it was an angel? My
grandma told me a story once about
when a group of monks were building
a monastery in Ireland. One monk was
on the roof when he overbalanced and
started to fall backwards. Something
slammed into him from behind and
threw him back onto the roof."
Kemara nodded slowly. "Yeah, I do. I
don't know why an angel would be
involved in something so minor. I
mean, I got third place, and Eileen
and I were crying and hugging and
jumping up and down, but it's not
like it was a big deal."
JenniAnn was sure now. Monica's
smile and her continued silence only
"But it was pretty big deal to you
personally, right?" She pointed out
"Yeah," Kemara blinked back tears.
"It was. I can look back now and see
how many things happened because of
that moment...going to Ireland,
deciding to join the Catholic
Rose picked up the tea pot and
upended it over her cup. "Looks like
"I'll make some more," JenniAnn
said, taking the pot from her.
"Monica can you lend me a hand? It
looks like the scones are running
When they were safely in the
kitchen, JenniAnn filled the kettle
and turned to Monica who was piling
fresh scones onto a tray. "Was it
"Yes." She rinsed out the pot and
added more tea bags. "I had just
finished an assignment at the hotel
that morning. I was walking through
the lobby when I heard the music, so
I asked if I could stay and watch
for a wee bit."
"I agree with Kemara - that is
pretty amazing." JenniAnn said. "I
mean, you'd never seen her before,
Monica shook her head. "No, the
Father just asked me to step in."
"And she's not certain it was an
angel, much less one who she would
become friends with 15 years later."
They worked in silence for a few
minutes, then Monica said, "Do you
think I should tell her?"
"That it was an angel or you in
Monica nodded. "Both, I suppose."
JenniAnn thought for a minute.
"No....not unless she asks you
straight out. She's pretty certain
an angel helped her, and maybe it's
best to leave it at that. Sometimes
we humans don't want to know the
reasons behind things. It's enough
that they happened. But knowing the
why....that kinda spoils the magic."
Monica still looked puzzled so she
continued. "It's like Santa Claus.
As a really little kid you might
believe that he's real, but as you
grow up you start to doubt, but part
of you wants to keep believing. So
even though you know your parents
are leaving the presents because you
snuck downstairs and saw them, you
still pretend it was Santa. You just
want to hold on to that."
As they returned to the table, Kylie
asked, "Will you play something,
"Sure, if someone will bring in my
Peter stood up. "I'll get it." He
caught the keys Joshua tossed to
him. "Which car?"
"The one with the bumper sticker
that says, 'My other car is a
donkey'," Andrew said managing to
keep a straight face.
The angels snickered, and Joshua
raised an eyebrow. "Oh? That wasn't
there this afternoon."
"We thought it was appropriate -
under the circumstances," Violeta
Joshua grinned and shook his head.
"I suppose I don't need to ask who
Peter came back in and gave keys and
guitar to Joshua.
"Now, this isn't an Irish song,"
Joshua said as he tuned the
instrument. "But I think it fits the
He began to play, and Zeke sang, "I
danced in the morning when the world
was begun. I danced in the moon and
the stars and the sun...."
From her seat next to Adam, Kylie
joined in on the chorus. "Dance,
dance, wherever you may be. I am the
Lord of the dance, said he. And I
lead you all wherever you may be.
And I lead you all in the dance said
As more people lifted their voices,
Andrew studied Joshua. He found
himself profoundly moved at the
sight of the creator of the universe
accompanying his own story. Beside
him, JenniAnn noticed the tears in
"What is it, love?"
He turned to smile at her and
wrapped an arm around her drawing
her and the sleeping baby close.
"I danced for the scribes and the
pharisees, but they would not dance.
They wouldn't follow me."
Adam watched Joshua's hands as they
moved over the guitar's strings.
Those same hands had planed wood,
chiseled stone, blessed children,
healed the sick, raised the dead.
Those hands had broken bread, raised
a cup of wine, been chained and
finally pierced by cruel nails. Yet,
they were now whole and unmarked.
He studied his own hands made in the
image of those he loved so much. No,
he promised. I will never wash my
hands of you.
"I danced for the fishermen, for
James and John. And they came with
me, and the dance went on."
Monica rested her head on Arthur's
shoulder and let the music and the
words wash over her. They took her
back to a Jerusalem street where had
she strained to catch a glimpse of
the beloved face as he rode in
triumph into the city. Finally, they
realize who he is, she remembered
thinking. Now they understand! And
then, just a few days later, seen
that same face an unrecognizable
mask of blood and sores as some of
those same people drove him to his
She bit back a sob, but of course
Arthur noticed. "You OK?"
"Just memories," she said wiping her
She thought for a minute. "Good and
bad. But mostly good." And that was
true, because the horrible things
that had happened that Friday were
over, and hope had been reborn.
Joshua was with them, and "soon" -
to use his favorite word - her
friends would know and love him for
"I danced on the Sabbath and I cured
the lame. The holy people said it
was a shame. They whipped, they
stripped, they hung me high. Left me
there on a cross to die."
Violeta listened in growing horror.
She wanted to cover her ears and run
out of the room.
"What is it?" Eli leaned close,
She squirmed. "How can they sing
about, about something so horrible?
How can they be so -" she searched
for the right word. "Flippant about
"I danced on a Friday when the sky
turned black. It's hard to dance
with the devil on your back."
Eli turned his chair so they were
partially hidden from the others.
"They're not, I promise. I know this
has been hard for you, but you need
to keep in mind what Joshua told us:
'remember that every moment, every
word, led to Sunday'."
He blinked back tears and squeezed
her hands. "And I'm so glad they
did. Because of what he went
through, Sophia's death wasn't the
end, and I can see and talk to her
any time I want to."
Violeta smiled and wiped her eyes.
"Yes, that's true."
Henry, who was sitting nearby, had
overheard. "Just think what our jobs
would be like, Violeta, if Joshua
hadn't opened the gates of death,"
he said quietly. "Every time you
escort someone home, it's because of
what he did - not just for them but
for all of us."
Violeta nodded, and Eli hugged her.
"So cheer up little ducking, and
listen to the rest of the song."
"They cut me down and I leaped up
high. I am the life that will never,
never die. I'll live in you if
you'll live in me. I am the Lord of
the dance, said he."
The humans and angels all joined in
on the final chorus. "Dance, dance,
wherever you may be. I am the Lord
of the dance, said he. And I lead
you all wherever you may be. And I
lead you all in the dance said he."
As Joshua strummed the final chords
there was no applause. Into the
silence, Fr. Mike spoke up. "Amen."
"Amen," they replied and then the
applause came and some laughter as
they all relaxed.
Joshua set aside the guitar. "Anyone
else want to have a turn?"
Kylie raised a hand hesitantly. "I
think I would. If - I can sit here
and not stand up?"
"That's fine," Adam assured her.
"Whatever works for you."
She began to sing, shakily at first
but growing confidence.
"When I am down and, oh my soul, so
weary; when troubles come and my
heart burdened be; then, I am still
and wait here in the silence. Until
you come and sit awhile with me."
Adam blinked back tears. He was
amazed once again at the human
capacity to love and trust. After
everything that Kylie had been
through, and was still going
through, that she could still hold
on to her faith was astounding.
"You raise me up, so I can stand on
mountains. You raise me up, to walk
on stormy seas. I am strong when I
am on your shoulders. You raise me
up to more than I can be."
Joshua closed his eyes and prayed to
his Father that in the coming days
he could raise all of them up,
strengthen their faith and show them
how just much they were loved.
When the song finished, her friends
surrounded Kylie with compliments,
remembering how shy she had been at
the start of rehearsals.
Kemara gave Kylie a warm hug and
made her way through the crowd to
the food. Not much was left at this
late hour, but there was still some
fruit and dip. She was filling a
plate and trying to remember the
name of the song Keith had playing
when Sean appeared at her elbow.
"Hey, do you, uh, wanna dance?" He
held out his hand.
She stared at him in astonishment.
Over his shoulder, she caught sight
of Joshua watching them. He smiled
and gave her a wink.
She took a deep breath. Then,
setting down the plate, she reached
for Sean's hand.
"I'd love to."
Playlist (all songs available on iTunes)
1. Shipping Up to Boston - Jig tune by The Dropkick Murphys...an
2. Waves of Tory - Jig tune traditional ceili dance
3. Dear Boss - This version by Robbie O'Connell
4. The Cross Reel - Reel tune traditional ceili dance performed to
"Matt's and Nat's" by Natalie MacMaster
5. Soggy's/Waterboogie - Shelby's slip jig to tunes by Beoga
6. Siege of Ennis - Jig tune traditional ceili dance
7. The Devil Went Down to Georgia - Reel tune by The Charlie
Daniels Band. This performance uses an instrumental version so
they can add their own fiddling and vocals.
8. King of the Fairies - Kemara's solo dance. Traditional tune and
9. Lord of the Dance - Contemporary hymn written to the Shaker
tune "Simple Gifts."
10. You Raise Me Up - Originally by Josh Groban. This version is
by Celtic Woman
The grace before meals that Joshua says was written by Izola
Web page background courtesy of www.aon-celtic.com
to the Carpenter's Stories
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