They are older than I by a decade. White hair, wisdom lines on their faces. Walking a bit slower these days.
Yet whenever we meet, I suddenly feel a shared surge of their energy. Not physical, but spiritual. Hope-filled protons of life.
We usually meet once a month for a special meal at Cracker Barrel. Even during COVID-19. Especially during COVID-19.
We stay away from topics of politics or anything ugly confrontive. Yet we can be honest with each other. Disagree. Add another viewpoint to the conversation.
We update each other on the cares and needs of family. Our children always top of the list. Their grandchildren added to the ladder of conversation.
We eat good food, and we laugh a lot. Even during COVID-19. Especially needed during a pandemic that changed how we do life.
Sometimes we talk about the past — how we met in 2006. Memories of work shared, of prayers answered.
Lean in to their hugs. Especially during a pandemic with a shortage of touch.
When I have theological questions, I ask them first. Anything in my writings that might need clarified. They give honest answers. Ask why I am writing on a certain topic. Wonder when the latest book will be published. Their names have appeared numerous times on my Acknowledgements pages.
Through the years, they have attended most of my book-signings. Bought books for their family and friends. Or for someone who needs the words God has given me.
I know with a certainty they pray for me. I feel it, especially when writing is hard. When the words need to be pulled from my soul by a Wordsmith greater than I.
After we meet, I always feel better. Re-energized to work on that elusive novel or organize another writing craft book. Meet with my clients and offer them accountability. Hope for their words. Believe once again that God is faithful.
The last time we met, I hurried home to pray. To thank God for their hope-filled friendship through the years. And to ponder the question, What is it about this lovely couple that fills me with hope and energizes me to live abundantly?
They encourage freely. Never a word of condemnation. None of the spiritual and verbal abuse so common on social media from people who should know better. No negativity of any kind.
They search for the positives. A difficult time gives opportunity to find the silver lining. A doctor’s appointment brings the comment, “Everything will work out fine.” The struggles of 2020 germinate into reasons to “Rejoice always. And again, I say rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
They fully trust a higher power. When I express my struggles, they remind me how God is already ahead of me. The loving twinkle in her blue eyes. The ready smile on his face. The statement, “God already knows the answer” a balm to my troubled soul.
They meet my needs. Although I am not starving, a good meal tastes wonderful. Taking home a box of leftovers will remind me to stay in hope the next day and the next. Filling my belly for a complimentary lunch nurtures the aloneness in me. Reminds me someone cares.
They mentor me. When I look back after each meeting, I see how they have taught me something more. How their belief rubs off on me. How they have shared another spiritual nugget so that I can learn. Be better. Live better.
Someday our special lunches will end. One or all of us will leave this earth for a better place. Those who are left will grieve yet rejoice, feel joy for the beauty of what the missing one knows.
But for now, these friends fill a place of emptiness for me. I am grateful for the hope they share, for the joy of being together now and then.
And I hope to someday fill such a place for a younger human I will meet. To be that living hope we all need. To share in holy moments of encouragement.
To teach by example and live by loving another.
©2021 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
Feeling the need for a nugget of hope? Check out Finding Hope When Life Unravels.