Saturday, January 25, 2014

Follow Peace - Gibson

I entered a church I don't usually attend one day. Turned and found an old friend standing below me on the steps. Until she smiled, I mistook her for someone else. But only one person smiles like that.

We hugged, opened our mouths, and started in, just like old times in another church foyer. We almost wore the carpet thin after worship, standing there yakking. Back then we discussed rebellious kids, our dissatisfaction with our prayer lives, the upcoming women's retreat, new dessert recipes...

All those decades ago, when we first met, she came wary to worship. Hurt. Prepared for rejection. Not expecting the friends she found. Eventually we shared committees, planned events, went on retreats together; chatted every mile.

Together with our husbands, we spent time at each others' homes, enjoying an easy companionship. Bright. Helpful. Solid.

But life is gritty sometimes. Like a sandstorm, petty little things gust in, swirl over and blow us away from the people we care about. And suddenly you wake up and realize a friend has gone missing.

I can’t recall what it was exactly, but hurts and disappointment clouded over our comradeship. The sun of that friendship got lost for years. No final words, no real explanations. Just a far quieter phone. An empty pew. And sometimes, tears on the pillow.

Years later, crises visited both our homes. One day, driving by hers, I picked up my cell phone, almost without thinking. Punched in her number.

“Just drivin’ by,” I said, all in a rush. “Wondered if….”

“Please come,” she said.

Around the kitchen table, the conversation felt fragile and cautious. We dodged the sensitive things. Our husbands, our partners in hard times, talked between themselves. Slow words, polite, but cool. Mostly, we listened.

But when I left, something had changed. “D’ya think…” I asked myself. “Don’t do that,” I answered myself. “You think too much. Follow God, one step at a time.”

We kept meeting accidentally after that. God’s doings, I’m sure. Like that day in a church neither of us attended. In restaurants, at stores. Gradually, the ice thawed. Now when I see my friend we talk as naturally as we ever did. Laugh, too.

Thank God for hard times. Difficulty, disaster and disease, if we’re paying attention, bring clarity. Make us see the important things we can’t otherwise—like our own pettiness, and what we’ve sacrificed to hang onto it.

The specific hurt that drove a wedge between us is long forgotten. In light of the really big stuff we’ve both faced since? Not even worth discussing. Somehow it feels more important to simply grab the present opportunity. To embrace the moments and the people God has allowed, for as long as he allows them.

Let it go, people. And follow peace, in Jesus’ name.


Reprinted from a 2012 edition of Sunny Side Up. 

Author, columnist and broadcaster Kathleen Gibson lives and writes in Saskatchewan. Sunny Side Up, her faith and life column, had its start in 2001, and is published weekly in numerous Prairie newspapers.


Carolyn Wilker said...

I always admire the sensitivity you bring to difficult situations, Kathleen. Thank you.

Kathleen Gibson said...

Thank you,Carolyn. Blessings.

Peter Black said...

Amen! to Carolyn's reflection, Kathleen. And a positive "Yes and Amen" to the wisdom you've gained from your journey -- and from this incident in particular. Thank you for sharing. ~~+~~

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