there's nothing quite like a having a friend that you can share your faith with. someone to discuss the wide open range of heavenly things and how they apply daily to our lives here on earth. i'm lucky enough to have such a friend. her name is carolyn and if i had a dollar for each time i've said to her "i'm so glad we met," well...i'd have enough for a plane to ticket to somewhere, that's for sure.
we met over a shared sandwich. well, we weren't sharing the same sandwich actually. we weren't even sharing the same table. i was sitting with a few friends and carolyn was at the table next to me. i happened to notice that carolyn was eating the same sandwich as i was - a "to this day memorably delicious" panini with warm, savory goat cheese, apricot preserves and almonds tucked inside. i've yet to recreate this sandwich, but it's on my list, none the less.
at a break in the conversation at my table i leaned over and said to this stranger, "isn't that the most delicious sandwich ever?" she started with a laugh (which has since become music to my ears) and whole heartedly agreed with me. that gave opening for carolyn to ask me about the conversation we'd been having - books, book clubs, etc. her best friend having just moved out of state and across the county, carolyn was in particular need of the company of friends - a group to become a part of, and had also had a long expressed interest in becoming a part of a book club.
not one to leave anyone on the sidelines of life, i eagerly invited carolyn to join us for book club and long story long, she's been a part ever since. not part of just one book club, but of all three that i lead at the library. i'm happy to say that in the time since, we've become dear friends as well. friends who share interests, hobbies and above all else, a strong and abiding faith.
last christmas we became "advent buddies." carolyn found a little booklet of daily scripture readings and devotions which led us through a month long celebration of the season of advent. the shared experience lent a much deeper meaning to christmas for me. i truly needed that, the "more" part, as it was the first christmas where my dad would be watching it all from heaven.
since then, and in the weeks leading up to lent, carolyn and i both agreed that we'd like to progress from "advent buddies" to "lent partners." again we went in search of a method of study, a booklet to guide the way. find one we did, and we are now on our individual yet together subsequent lenten journeys. we haven't discussed the "what we're giving up" part of lent, not on purpose but pretty much because it just hasn't come up. and that's not what's most important, i think, about lent. people get so hung up on that part and fail to dig deeper into the true meaning of repentance, of giving up, of letting go.
turning away from, confessing, admitting to things which cause us to stumble. things which hide our true nature, and in turn cause us to hide from god. and to have a season in which to come clean - repent, be renewed - isn't that the greatest gift? to sacrifice, to be made new, to draw ever closer to a loving god that gave everything he could possibly give - what more could i ever ask for? nothing. absolutely nothing. my life is a gift. and carolyn is a gift, a friend to share my faith with. a friend to ponder life's ultimate questions with. who is honest, loving and of such integrity. and her laugh, heavens...her laugh. if only you could hear.
on that day, at the restaurant, i opened up to a stranger. not an accident. there are no accidents where god is concerned. and through opening up myself to carolyn, god has opened himself up to me in a way i've never experienced. through advent, through lent, through ways yet unknown to me. and through the musical laughter of a good friend.
his ways are marvelous, they are mysterious, they are perfect in every sense. and they are right for me. for that i live my life as a prayer, in gratitude.
may they be your's...
photo: early pre-spring morning in the forest preserve:)