On Sunday afternoon I was happy to be able to visit a parishioner who had been hospitalized just a few miles from church. At the hospital front desk, three very welcoming folks greeted me. They let me know where to find my friend and parishioner, and I noted in passing that I had managed to get myself lost the last time I tried to get to that particular neighborhood in the hospital. Which was true.
The security man on duty, above and beyond the call thereof, offered to lead me there. He led me much of the way and then kindly pointed forward to the path I should follow. Alas, when I had reached the correct floor in the correct area of the hospital, thanks to his good offices, I was lost again, unable to figure from the signage exactly where the room I needed to find was to be found.
I did see a glass door and a nurse's desk beyond. Pressing forward I walked up to the desk and was greeted by a friendly face. I asked for our parishioner by name and received confirmation of the location of her room. But then the woman at the desk continued, unexpectedly. "It is so good that you are here, and on a Sunday afternoon! I can see in your face the love of people and the glory of God. Thank you for that!"
Now, what do you say after something like that? I thanked her and with wonderment actually found my way to the room, where we had a good visit and a moment of wonderfully genuine prayer together. Then, somehow (!), I found my way back to the lobby and out the door again.
In the middle of that visit to a good person in a moment of life needing encouragement, affirmation and support, God had cleverly embedded a most unexpected moment of encouragement and support into my living. Like a number of us, I presume, I am most often aware of my lacks, my weakness, my missteps, my sinfulness. But through this lady whom I never saw before and may not again, through her gentleness and strength, I was invited to recognize something else in me, and that nothing less than God working through a very poor tool. But working for good effectively nonetheless.
On all counts, it was a blessed summer afternoon,
Dear Saint Anselm’s,
I find myself thinking much these days about the value and worth and wonder of friendship.
Do you have friends whom you have known for years, or decades? Do you have friends you see often, who quite naturally act as a kind of barometer of the wellness of your life, who take the temperature of your joy or sorrow and who know just how to respond? Sometimes that response is just the right word. Sometimes it is just the right silence. Sometimes it is just the right hug.
Do you have friends whom you see only once in a great while now? Men and women who shared daily life with you in another time and place? When you speak with one another, or see one another after a long period of time, does all the time that has elapsed seem to melt away, so that your hearts reveal themselves just as connected as ever?
If any of this is true, then you (and I) are profoundly blessed in these friends. They are truly a gift of God. Perhaps a bit of past wisdom from two very different sources today can help us truly realize the worth of having and of being a friend.
Joan Powers, in Pooh’s Little Instruction Book distilling the wisdom of Winnie the Pooh and friends, shares this: “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” And the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, known in the Middle Ages of the Christian era as The Philosopher, offered this truth long ago and far away: “What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”
Give your friend a call today. Or drive over to spend a little time together. You’ll both be glad you did.
Yours in Christ,