The city of Helena, Montana, will enjoy Christmas at the Cathedral this Sunday evening. How I wish I could be there!
When I wrote More Than a Tiara, my half of Snowflake Tiara, I knew Marisa and Jase needed to attend this performance. Angela and I visited the Cathedral of St Helena last fall (with my husband, Jim) and drank in the majesty of the magnificent building.
From Snowflake Tiara
The closing aria hung in the air amidst the golden chandeliers in the Cathedral of St Helena. The audience held its collective breath as the note faded.
Beside him, Marisa leaned forward slightly, her eyes fixed on the mezzo-soprano whose hands spread to the sky, as though the arched and gilded ceiling had ceased to separate humanity from the heavens.
The acoustics in this building were rumored to be so good you could literally hear a pin drop anywhere within it. At this moment, wrapped in a holy hush, Jase believed it. Christmas in the Cathedral had affected him every bit as deeply as any night at the New York Philharmonic. Maybe more so.
He could do Helena. He’d always miss the Big Apple, but Helena was worth it ten times over for Marisa’s sake. The void in his life had lessened since finding her again.
God was here. Not everything stirring in his soul had to do with Marisa. Plenty of it had to do with immersing in God’s nature and drawing closer to Him. Helena didn’t block God’s voice the way New York and its insanity did. Here a guy could think, could pray.
His gaze lingered on Marisa’s profile.
Here a guy could hope. Could love.
She still held back from him a little, but his mind had jumped all the way to the altar. Maybe they could even be married right here in the cathedral. Once he’d convinced her he’d stay in Helena forever, just to be with her, she’d welcome him. He’d hurt her badly in the Kenyan aftermath. How could he make it up to her? Prove to her his apology was sincere?
Rustling began in nearby pews as folks gathered their coats. Jase slid his arm around Marisa. “Amazing,” he whispered.
She leaned into him. Not much, but it was progress, and he’d take it. Her blue eyes glimmered in the cathedral’s soft lighting as she looked up at him.
Jase pulled her a little closer and swept his lips across her forehead. “You’re beautiful, Marisa,” he murmured. “You belong here, in this place of magic. In this place of heaven on earth.” He pulled her coat to her bare shoulders.
“I don’t want to leave yet. Do you mind?” Her eyes begged his. “I need to absorb the majesty.”
His heart surged. She felt as he did. How could things not work out between them? He leaned back in his seat. “Take your time.”
Around them, others slipped quietly out into the night until only a few pockets of people remained.
“God among us,” Marisa said quietly. “It’s beyond comprehension.”
“He loved us that much. Calls us to Him.”
She turned to him. “It’s crazy. We’re not worth it.”
“We are to Him.”
“People say I’m beautiful.” She put a finger to his lips to stop the words she had to know he wanted to say. “But God doesn’t see me that way. When He looks at me, He doesn’t see me. He sees Jesus.”
He’s missing a great view.
Oh, Jase knew it wasn’t true. God knew exactly what He’d created in Marisa. Not only a woman with a beautiful face and body, but one with a personality and heart to match.
Like the Grinch, Jase felt like his heart grew ten sizes bigger, just thinking about her.
“Do you think God cares who wins the Miss Snowflake title, Jase?” Her blue eyes looked boldly into his. “If He doesn’t place the same importance on beauty as humans do, why should He care?”
He lifted his hand to her face and traced her jaw. “He cares, Marisa. He cares, not because of the title, but what He wants to do through you because of it. He has great plans for you.”
She leaned into his touch, her eyes still meeting his.
“Great plans,” he repeated. Plans he’d be part of. For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. He leaned a little closer and caressed her lips with his own for a few seconds before pulling back.
As much as he wanted to pursue, this wasn’t the time. Definitely wasn’t the place. He rose, catching her hand and pulling her up with him.
They exited the tall arched doors of the cathedral into a crisp winter night. The full moon hovered not far above the horizon, casting an ethereal glow the parking area.
Even in darkness, there was light. Jesus had come into such a dark world and shone a holy light into it. He’d brought light into the darkness of Jase’s soul… and into his heart.