Getting ready to leave after a large class, a classmate and I became engaged in sharing what we did at home before coming to our very early class. When I said that I listen to music while I eat breakfast, she said, “I also tune in to music on the radio.” “I’ve been enjoying a cd of instrumental strings and piano of familiar hymns”, I added.” “Oh, I would like that”, she replied.
“What is your name”, she asked. When I told her, she said, “I’ve heard about you”. “I am Molly and I pastor a Lutheran church.” When she gave the name of the church, I said “I am familiar with your church. My husband, Jim, pastored Temple church for 34 years.” She was also familiar with our church and him. “Let’s walk out together,” she said. Generally, I zip out quickly but I took her up on her suggestion. In the five-minute walk to the parking lot, we discovered we had more than music and church work in common, because she likes to write as I do. She said she’d like to read my blogs so I gave her the address. We gleefully acknowledged that we were on the same page.
After the brief drive home, I was greeted with an email from Molly: “Ruth, so wonderful to meet you today. I will watch for your blog. Happy Thanksgiving. Let's stay in touch. Today has been filled with such God moments and connections for me. Shalom, Molly”, and I responded in like manner.
As I prepared several covered dishes for our family Thanksgiving meal, my thoughts centered around the Thanksgiving Season with its main focus on family and friendships and thankfulness for God’s provision. Having made a new friend was a special Thanksgiving gift and fit perfectly into the blog I had been working on for a couple of weeks on the subject of the value and connections through friendships that often continue for years.
The Thanksgiving devotional I had read earlier deepened the value of family and friendships more so. The writer had moved to England where on that particular day it was just another Thursday in November and she had a longing to be with her family and friends and used Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life, to encourage others who were spending Thanksgiving away from home.
When I researched: Those are rich who have true friends, a saying mom quoted many times, I was blown away to see pages and pages of sayings like True friendship resists time, distance and silence, credited to Isabel Attende. I also googled the first Thanksgiving to refresh my dulled history-recall:
Nearly all of what historians have learned about one of the first Thanksgiving feats comes from a single eyewitness report: a letter written in December 1621 by Edward Winslow, one of the 100 or so people who sailed from England aboard the Mayflower in 1620 and founded Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. William Bradford, Plymouth’s governor in 1621, wrote briefly of the event in Of Plymouth Plantation, his history of the colony, but that was more than 20 years after the feast itself. Basically, it was to celebrate the end of a successful harvest,” says Tom Begley, the executive liaison for administration, research and special projects at ‘Plimoth Plantation’. “The three-day celebration included feasting, games …and there was definitely an amount of diplomacy between the colonists and the native attendees as well.”
Probably, in your area as mine, even before Thanksgiving, Yards, porches and Christmas trees are decorated inside and out celebrating the major holiday, it’s being called, but for many different reasons. My personal emphasis is that Christmas highlights the promised gift of the Messiah, who became my personal friend in 1947, after my best and only friend, my dad, deserted our family. I was sorely in need of a ‘new best friend’, explaining why John 15 is my favorite chapter.
The value, treasure and connection of family and friendships has swirled around in my head and heart for several weeks and for several reasons. An established observation is that normally, a person may have 20 fairly good friends out of many acquaintances, but only a very few are considered true friends, and whittled down even more to one or two lifelong true friends. With the passing of most of my long-time friends, I treasure the sweet and fun memories while acknowledging the wisdom of investing time in making new friends, like Molly. Perhaps you’ll want to reflect on doing the same. Jim used to say and preach that when meeting new people, “We are not strangers, just friends who’ve never met.”
Throughout the last couple of weeks, I intentionally recalled how each had enriched Jim and me and our family, in their personal help in connecting us with others to whom we became equally indebted. I am especially indebted to Carolyn, whose story some of you already know. After Jim returned home from making a church call on Carolyn and her husband who were new in the community, he said “I met a woman tonight that I know you are really going to like.” And he was so right.
After church, there was always a long line waiting to get Carolyn’s advice about an ache or pain or a doctor she could recommend. My immediate family, though never having met her personally, know her very well. She taught me so much about health care and caring about people. Losing her six weeks after losing Jim is still very tender. Carolyn, who I’ve written a blog about, directed me to doctors and surgeons who have become friends, too.
In fact, planning to write a thankyou letter to one of my Carolyn-directed physicians, for all he did to explain what I did not understand and to patiently pin-point my major problem was the beginning of the inspiration for this blog. I thanked him verbally, but I’m old school and not totally satisfied until I send a note.
I thought about Carolyn when I had a follow-up visit a couple weeks ago with my neurosurgeon who she directed me to years ago. “I want to thank you for apprehensively performing a surgery on a maybe-too old person and I wanted to show you that I am back with my former agility in pain-free walking.” He smiled and said softly, “I don’t get much feedback like this.”
And I thought what a shame if teachers, doctors, surgeons, advisors and caregivers aren’t treated like friends. We pay the bill but are deeply indebted to them for getting and keeping us on our feet and many other ‘healings’. The professional people who help us in myriads of ways deserve to receive a personal thank you letter of gratitude. I hope you write one.
Valuing family is often taken for granted, especially one’s children who gradually assume responsibility for Senior-safety and well-being. Jim and I experienced this treasure, and now I continue to experience their watch care and advice. And for those of you who’ve been reading my blogs for a couple of years, you’ll remember how much and how often, neighbor, Mark, and his wife Krista, have done to fill Jim’s shoes for small repairs that bomb my mind. It’s comforting to know that they, along with several other neighbors, are as close as their phone or email to help me when I’m in a jam.
Be apprised, that as we get along in age losing old friends, that making new friends becomes more difficult, therefore extend yourself in embracing new acquaintances as potential good friends. Relishing the bond of friendship is one of the deepest joys of life.
A friend loves at all times. Prov. 17:17 (NIV). …but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Prov. 18:24. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends…John 15:14-15(NIV).