Dear friends we are in the process of scrubbing our house for renters and interviewing at a new parish but even in chaos I still need to take up this journal and write words, black on white to make sense of my life. Thank you for being here, for being patient through this journey and for praying for us through this transition.
For Linda and Roy
We schlepped the card table and four chairs down the wooden stairs at Oval beach to the water’s edge, spread the Indian cloth, set out four goblets and the Italian picnic: a loaf of Como, Pesto to spread, cheeses, salami and cherry tomatoes. Later I we glopped nutella on paper plates and ran strawberries through the small mound. The four of us indulged as if we were Dickens characters starved for the feast of life.
It was my birthday dinner and this year May 1st still came on the calendar, even when I’m wrung out. I am full-on grieving the losses of a quaint town, an amazing church, (the beach where we camp out all summer) and a long string of friendships dug deep.
I was hungry for beauty because beauty heals.
And this year, this night, these two friends were my gift and our celebration of shared life these last four years. My husband and I have glimpsed the faithful, intentional life lived long and the joy of simple, quality living. Roy has been Andrew’s fishing buddy and together they memorized the last lines of TS Elliot’s Little Gidding. Linda has been my writing/soul friend and she was quite simply the embodiment of hundreds of flung out prayers.
It was one of those prayers I started praying from desperation. You know the kind. A prayer that you can’t imagine could be answered but that your heart can’t stop whispering: “God please send me a writing friend.”
Sitting in creative writing classes at Asbury College, I thrived on the critique of Dr. Devon Brown and a class full of word smiths. Together we unlocked the puzzles of interwoven words. Seminary too I luxuriated in classes of students who pushed me and professors who opened their treasure chest of knowledge and I ran my fingers through down the luminous strings of tightly-bound wisdom.
After seminary, we moved to the shores of Lake Michigan, a sandy paradise, but an hour from any large town, had babies and was no longer portable. I felt a bit, well, stuck. I learned to sit still. I learned to be needy and to pray. I learned that God loves to answer be the Giver, the Source.
That’s when I learned to pray seed prayers, drop the need before God and water them liberally with prayers, patience, and time. Nine months later I met Linda.
Linda, with starched white shirt and big, colorful earrings, walked into my Tuesday night Bible study and began dropping those wise words strung together and I recognized her, a writer. She slowly opened her heart and mentored me with enough vulnerability which became an invitation to friendship. She was a writer who had been there and back, publishing books along the way and learning to fight for her daily art. She was thirty years my senior but quickly became my best friend.
At first we would get together once a month just to talk about writing, and the creative life free of the guilt of production. I was big and uncomfortably pregnant and she invited me to sink into a comfortable chair, luring me with cups of hot tea in a tea cup. She pointed out the swans in the pond across the street as I sat on her screened-in porch and enjoyed the breeze coming straight through from the apple orchards across the yard. We had an easy friendship, tossing around books and quotes and encouraging simple steps of creativity.
One of her great gifts to me? This guilt-banishing wisdom: Summer, don’t worry. When you are not writing, you are writing your life and it will seep out onto the page when you least expect it.
This was my luminous birthday gift, sitting toes in the sand for hours side by side with this God-given friend. We gulped up warm sun and chatted easily, as we always do, of glimpses of God.
We celebrated His resurrection appearances in our ordinary lives and watched as answered prayer once again unfolded into joy, light shot through our grief-filled lives.
Picture found here.