This week's column comes to you from Elburn, Illinois. I'm sitting at a desk in the house I called home for over 27 years. Our visit "down south" in the middle of February had one main focus: to attend the celebration of life of a man who has been part of our lives for many, many decades. Our children called him "Uncle Rick" and eagerly looked forward to his visits. He was a unique individual, marching to the beat of a different drummer all his life. Even though many tears were shed at his service, there was so much more laughter. A time of sorrow, where we only saw a photo of Rick and couldn't hear his laughter, turned into a time of joy and gratitude for having him in our lives for the time we were given. Rest in peace, my friend.
And then there were the all too brief visits with some old friends. More laughter shared over good food and coffee. And seeing two of our children was the BEST! And then there were the grandchildren, 4-year-old Jackson and 4.5-month-old Charlotte. Two beautiful children with very different abilities but both able to make us smile and coo and behave like fools because we are overwhelmed with love for them.
What a full weekend! And now the weather shifts, putting a crimp in our travel plans. Oh well. Maybe I'll get to see a couple of more friends while we are here, even as we feel the pull for northern Michigan and a return to the warm company of all the new friends I've made since our move over 5 years ago. Some of you have become so dear to me. How could I have lived a "full" life without you? And when you think of it, it's the same way with our relationship with God. I just cannot conceive of a life without my faith and a faith family to give that life form and function. When I hear some people say "Oh, I don't do all that church stuff" I can't help but feel a profound sorrow for them. How do they get through life - day by day - without an ear to hear their moans of grief or a direction for their joy and praise? And the comfort that a relationship with God provides? What a hole in their lives! Sure, the names of God and his Son come to their lips easily enough in curses, but in prayer or gratitude? Not a chance. Now THERE's an opportunity for prayer! These people are our friends! What better use for our time of prayer than to lift them up in hope for a soul change?
This column doesn't seem to have much continuity does it? Sometimes life is just like that: we're bounced around from action to action, thought to thought, with the continuous love of God to come home to at the end of the day. Through laughter and tears, travel and the warmth of our own hearth, reconnecting with old friends and reveling in the delight of new friends, it all comes down to God. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Thank you for the opportunity to visit old friends,
to celebrate the life of a friend called home to you.
Thank you for sharing friends with us
who enrich our lives and help us see new ways to live.
Thank you for our very life.
Help us always live it in your name. Amen.