It started when a mutual friend ordered one of my charity bouquets to be delivered to a darling, tiny little woman who lives a few miles from me, Marie. She became a widow this past summer after 59 years of marriage. I really enjoyed meeting her. We have so much in common. We’ve become fast friends. (Note: That’s not us in the picture; she doesn’t use a cane and I have more silver in my hair than she does!)
I always leave Marie’s home uplifted and happy, even though she gets tears in her eyes talking about her beloved hubby, and I feel safe enough to confess things that I’ve been doing that aren’t exactly Top Ten in God’s book. Even though her grief must be a terrible burden, she mostly focuses on whoever’s there, not herself. In this self-absorbed world, that’s precious and rare.
We both love our Lord, Bible study and corny old TV shows. We both married our high-school sweethearts. We both dote on our children and grandchildren, love growing flowers and love to cook.
Today, I dropped over with another bouquet for her because she has a sore foot. Most of the autumn flowers happened to be purple. She beamed at me: “Purple is my favorite color!” I didn’t know that. But our mutual Friend sure did, and directed my clippers away from the flowers of other colors, to give Marie the purple ones that made her heart sing.
I was blown away by Marie’s faithfulness in converting her spare bedroom into a “War Room.” Like the Christian movie by that name, a “war room” is a place where you start every day with prayer, Bible reading, meditation, or whatever you do to build your relationship with your Savior. She had her family pictures all around, so she could focus on each person and pray for them.
Eureka! I realized that my own spiritual life had gotten pretty weak, haphazard and catch-as-catch-can, under covid. So I went home, cleaned out the desk in our grown daughter’s now-empty bedroom, brought up my collection of reference books, and created my own “War Desk.” I’ve been starting every day there, shooting for an hour, and it has been a good and calming influence.
On the wall by the “War Desk,” there’s an old painting. I bought it in a junk store more than 40 years and three houses ago. I had pretty much forgotten about it. But now I stared at it. Where had I seen that painting, or something like it, recently? Why was it looking so familiar?
When I returned to Marie’s today with the flowers, I about dropped the vase. There, on her wall, was an old print that pretty much depicts the same scene as mine:
Charming white stucco walls on European-looking houses with tilted reddish roofs, with rough stonework, and picturesque canals in front.
What? Were we separated at birth?!?
But I didn’t have time to ruminate on this coincidence . . . because then she said she was fixing pork with mushrooms, and peas, for dinner.
So was I!
There’s zero doubt that God set us up to be friends for this covid challenge, and vice versa. It’s almost exhilarating to find out what a great friend I almost missed knowing. So, I guess, thank you, covid!
I’m someone new to tell her stories to – to help assuage the loneliness, to process her loss, get a few laughs, and start her new journey as a woman alone. But, through the people drawn to Marie’s life, including new friends, she can see that she will never really be alone.
And God gave me Marie as a model for how to deal with big, bad stuff and trust God, come what may – making lemonade when life hands you lemons – doubling down on your faith life to get you through anything, even a pandemic, even widowhood. To know how to get through anything – that’s everything.
A friend gives you a foretaste of what it’s going to be like in heaven – to understand and be understood, to love and be loved. She may be a foot shorter than me, and a decade older and wiser – but we share a heart for Jesus. And that’s the real antidote to anything bad the world can throw at you.
Can’t wait for the next hilarious coincidence with my bosom buddy, Marie! †
This is my commandment,
That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
— John 15:12
By Susan Darst Williams • 10/2/2020 • www.RadiantBeams.org • © 2020