“Friendships are discovered, rather than made.” Harriot Beecher Stowe wrote.
Discovered. I like that thought.
I’ve had some great ‘discoveries’ in my lifetime.
Whenever I go to Dallas, I try to see my dearheart friend J.
We like to meet at Whole Foods for our snippet visits.
We talk way above the speed limit, laughing, crying, and praying, and then we say a rushed goodbye, and leave feeling loved and energized.
J. and I first met at church. We never attended the same school, but we knew each other as first-graders, and later, became friends during high school and college.
We kept in touch while becoming wives and mothers, raising toddlers and teenagers, and clearing out our ‘nests’ at the same time.
We shared middle-age and menopause angst and now we are doting grammas, sharing texts and videos of our grandchildren, while praying for our adult children and elderly parents. (She is A Star, a real champion, the way she tirelessly cares for her home-bound parents.)
J. is a great friend. I love her so much.
This weekend I visited another dearheart friend.
I met M. during college, when we worked at the same Wisconsin camp. She later became the dean of women at Montreat College, which led to Jake’s job there.
For three summers M. Jake, and I led a small children’s camp. (which, by the way, we were way too young to do.)
Then M. got married and moved away.
A few years later Jake and I left the country.
But our hearts never moved nor left the friendship.
And on and off through the years we had lots of fun together: camping, hiking, playing the guitar, square-dancing and singing together, laughing a lot, and even driving around Ireland a few years ago.
One indelible memory was the night Daughter #1 was born. M. lived next door and she came running in the backdoor, half-dressed, when she saw our lights go on at midnight. I still have the sign she made to welcome us home.
M. is a great friend. I love her so much.
I was thinking how M. is so very different from J. — like the country mouse versus the city mouse — but they both are dearheart friends to me and I am curious: if they ever met, would they feel a kindred spirit, too?
So, I started writing this story about J. and M. some days before I went to see M.
I didn’t know then she would be moved to a hospice house.
Before I went, I asked a few dearheart friends, including J., to pray for me, that God would enable me to sing with M. without weeping.
J., who is a professional musician, made and emailed me a recording of her singing a beautiful Irish blessing, to play in M’s room.
Which I did. Over and over.
So I guess they sorta met.
That makes me smile.
One of the songs I sang to M. (loud and strong, btw, because God answered our prayers.) is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” *
It is mind-blowing to me — and heart-strengthening! — to think: Jesus, the Son of God, calls us friends.
He is The Greatest and Best Dearheart Friend. I love Him so much.
I wish everyone could discover His Friendship.
*What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear.
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!
These words were written by Irish poet Joseph Scriven, 1819-1886. Scriven’s life was filled with grief. His fiancé accidentally drowned the night before their wedding. Grieving, he left Ireland for Canada, settling in Woodstock, Ontario, 1845. (Interesting to me, because in 1930, my grandmother immigrated from the very same county in Ireland to the very same Woodstock in Canada.) Some years later, Scriven fell in love again, but tragically, she fell ill and died a few weeks before their wedding. “A shattered Scriven turned to the only thing that had anchored him during his life — his faith.” He then spent his life devoted to helping others, preaching, teaching, giving. He published a book of verse, which did not include this poem, a poem he had written as a gift for his dying mother. Understandably, Scriven fought depression and it appears he ended his own life by drowning. The last line of this poem says: “In His arms He’ll take and shield thee, thou wilt find a solace there.” Scriven found eternal solace with his friend Jesus.
As will my friend M.
And, someday, I will, too.