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Thursday, June 01, 2017
Completing the Circle by Eleanor Shepherd
This month our good friends are celebrating their 50th
Wedding Anniversary and I have been invited to speak at the event.This is a huge honour for me and the story is
a complicated one.We were good friends
when we were in our late teens and early twenties.One thing we sometimes did was double date,
going to a movie or to a concert as four rather than as two.
friends married two years before we did and at the time of their wedding a
misunderstanding developed between us.Hurt feelings, not dealt with smoldered into negative thoughts and
actions and with the passage of time, the relationship turned to embers because
of our failure to nurture it.We all had
busy lives, raising families and involved in our church activities.We were no longer part of the same
congregation and we moved to different cities, so it was easy to let the
friendship lapse.However, we were aware
that something was not right in our spirits.
decade passed and then another.We found
ourselves back in the same city and again members of the same
congregation.Although the unpleasant
memories were buried, there was still a strain in our relationship.If memory serves me right, there was one time
during the first decade after the rupture, that we went to our former friends
and awkwardly tried to make amends, but at that stage none of us were ready for
it seemed there might be a glimmer of hope.As we had occasion to be thrown together in various projects and
activities, we discovered that they were pretty fine people, despite the way
that we had demonised them in our minds.At the time I was searching for a prayer partner, as this was something
that I valued for my own spiritual well-being.As I prayed about this, the name of my friend came to mind and I could
not shake it. So I asked her if she would be willing to meet regularly with me
to pray. She agreed. We spent meaningful times together in prayer.
were transferred to Europe with our work, and before we left, my friend and I
went out for lunch together.At that
time, she humbly apologized for her part in the initial misunderstanding.Although I had spent many years blaming her
for what I thought she had done, in hearing her apology, I realized that the
fault was not all hers.I had not acted
in the way I ought to have acted either and our falling out was as much my
fault as hers.I realized what an
incredible treasure she was to have as a friend.
that day, our relationship took on a new depth.There are few friends that I value as much as this friend who reached
out to me and enabled me to experience the joy of forgiveness and
reconciliation.So you can imagine the pleasure
that it will be for me to honour her at their 50th anniversary
shared this story as part of my journey, with my spiritual director this week,
she reminded me that all that we have learned through the years, has enabled us
to handle things so much better now.If,
when we were young, we had been able to talk with each other honestly about the
issues that caused the break in our relationship, we would have been spared
those years of negative feelings toward each other.I agree.
Word Guild Awards 2009
However, without the tangles, I
may never have realized the depth of grace and humility that my friend
possesses, if she had not dared to reach out to me the way she did.I may never have become aware what a gift she
offers in her friendship with me. What was intended for evil, God turned to
good for us.
Word Guild Awards 2011
Shepherd from Pointe Claire, Quebec has more than 90 articles published in
Canada, France, the U.S.A., Belgium, Switzerland and New
Zealand. Thirty years with The Salvation Army in Canada and France including
ministry in Africa, Europe, Haiti and the Caribbean furnished material for her
Award winning book, More Questions than Answers, Sharing Faith by Listening.
Eleanor works as a pastor in Montreal with The Salvaton Army.