Sunday, October 26, 2008

If we never meet again this side of heaven

I remember my best friend in 7th grade, a girl named Shelley with curly black hair pulled in pigtails wearing overalls. Although I haven’t seen her in at least 5 years and very little for years before that, I still find myself thinking of her rather often. We were best friends all the way through high school, despite being separated in different schools for much of that time. We hit rough spots, traveled different paths and grew apart for a few years. Our friendship was renewed for a few blessed years after I became a mother. Then, she disappeared into the abyss of missing friends. I email her now and again, and sometimes get a response. She sounds stressed, distant, buried in her work.

I imagine the fellowship we had in school being restored. Maybe Father won’t mind if we pass notes containing hilarious cartoons such as got me kicked out of study hall for laughing so hard. Maybe we can have face to face conversations about Jesus, like we had online for awhile when I became a new Christian. I picture the closeness, the rapport and caring for one another - just like things used to be, only even better.

I think of former friends who turned against me, or dropped me because we had religious differences. And some who unexplainably just grew cool and distant. It still pains me to remember how and why some of these friendships ended. I remember what I once loved about them and picture that actually restored… only better.

I think of my internet friends, who literally live coast to coast with me smack dab in the middle in Texas. I picture seeing them 3-D, up close and personal. Hearing their voices without the static of a phone line and the feel of wrapping my arms around them in a hug. I wonder what their day to day lives are really like. There is only so much one can really share online.

I remember my sweet grandmother, who died 12 years ago. And the children I’ve never met, the ones that were never born because I was listening to the world instead of my heart. And the godly teachers who have ministered to me that I may never meet this side of heaven. And some of my favorite heroes of love, such as Mother Theresa… Florence Nightingale… Billy Graham… Steve Irwin. And of course, the best of all… Jesus… face to face.

I find this song a great comfort and inspiration. Although there are many versions of the song recorded, I’m going to include the one by the Man in Black who wrote the song:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Front Porches

One of the things I love most about old homes, is that most of them have front porches. The style of homes is a reflection of the times we live in. New homes with no front porch are being built left and right in suburban areas. They usually house people who work all day, then rush the kids to soccer and ballet lessons, then zip into their garage at night and aren’t seen again until they leave to take the kids to school the next morning on their way to work.

Front porches with swings, gliders and rocking chairs remind me of the time when they were built. A time when people had time to just sit and visit. I’ve only heard the stories from older folks. They would sit on the porch in the evenings after dinner. If they were lucky it might be screened in. Otherwise they would patiently shoo away flies, enjoying the warm breeze on a summer evening. After a little while, a neighbor or two, or four or six, was sure to come by. They would all settle in for a visit as the lady of the house brought out iced sweet tea or lemonade. If they stayed a while, maybe some homemade cookies or cobbler would follow.

I’ve read a couple of books written on how to form ‘networks’ and join clubs as a way of making friends and forming community. They teach you the strategy of finding the right friends and finding your place, as aggressive and well-planned as job-hunting. For us introverts, even the prospect can be exhausting.

A lady I once knew told me that her parents were among the least sociable and talkative people in the neighborhood, but they always had friends and they always had company. All they did really, was sit out on the front porch evenings and some neighbors were sure to come by and see how they were doing. A pitcher of fresh tea could go a long way in building bonds back then. Now you apparently have to have a well-honed strategy and a PLAN.

I feel like I was born about a hundred years too late. We have plans to build a porch onto our house. Long term plans include adding a larger flower garden to the front yard that can be viewed from the porch. Will others come and sit there? Will they be glad they came over, if they do? Sometimes, hoping for this is like planning to go into the buggy-whip business. As if I’ll offer the best buggy-whip anyone ever saw… that’s about a hundred years too late for anyone to have a use for.

But I’m planning on these things anyway, because they are on my heart. An important truth that organized Christianity usually doesn’t tell us is, follow and trust your heart. Because you have been given a new heart. Perhaps Father will bless others through my ‘outdated’ way of doing things in ways I haven’t imagined yet.