Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I Forgot About Then

Today I attended a funeral of a missionary friend. She lived a long, satisfying life until she had a stroke. I saw her sitting alone at church one day, and took her hand, and said, "Millie, how are you?" She looked in my eyes and said, "I'm so tired, so very, very tired." I replied, "I bet you are." Then we continued there, holding hands, communicating in the spirit. Even then, I could feel her strong spiritual walk. I hoped some of my strength would seep into her soul and body.

Many times Millie had stopped in my office and she would tell me something that was for the moment and I always felt better...those were rough years, the years where I saw Millie often.

Today, her life was honored. It was an awesome funeral....and I saw so many, many, many old friends. Men and women of God who have given their lives to God in service of one kind or another.

We came here in '88 to go to Bible College. We did, "H" earned a degree in pastoral ministries and I began a degree in Family Systems Therapy. The school closed, "H" got his degree, mine was named something else because I didn't have enough credits to graduate a bona-fide therapist. My mentor urged me to go on to a university and finish and join him in practice. My son had just died and I couldn't think - I barely managed to get through a day, let alone work and continue school.

I digress, though - as I looked at all my beloved friends and acquaintances of the last twenty years, I remembered all the years that I too served God. Not always perfectly and sometimes I even had a stinking attitude or two. It was such a privilege. These folks hugged me and shook my hand and as we visited I realized I had forgot this part of me...the years I ministered in missions, in an inner healing ministry, in recovery groups, and many other ways. And I realized I could die feeling good about that. One time (yeah, I talk to God sometimes) God told me that if ALL I did was raise my kids to know God, that would have been a great plenty.

My flesh (ego) was also stoked today as many didn't readily recognize me - when they did I had lots of compliments, and an appreciative look or two - but the other part of me sadly realized no matter where, people are human, and looks have a lot to do with how one is able to live life....and I'm not sure I liked that part of me that felt so good over the compliments. And I also remember all the reasons I let myself get so overweight - fear of sexuality - my gosh, what would one do in the Christian world if one is "too" attractive (not saying I am...but what about worrying if your nipples show through your bra? Does that make me less holy? I think not - so why the hangup?) Depression - a person is easily overwhelmed when depressed - too hard to fight whatever to take care of oneself....???? Exhaustion from years of stress - exercise? Just making it through a day was an accomplishment.

Anyway, I digress - the moral of this post is that I am so happy to be a part of a large community - one that has felt like family - an imperfect one, because we are all imperfect, no doubt, but nevertheless, these people have seen me through thick and thin, good and bad....love for them overwhelmed me. The founder of this huge ministry got up and said he thought he would die before Millie - there was lots of talk of dying - we are not young chicks anymore - but that's ok - we all do sooner or later - its just that we are so darn missed here on earth when we've gone on.

It's been a reflective day.

Then another friend called that had been my friend in this part of me I had forgotten and invited me to lunch at her home - I was wildly delighted to think of refreshing that friendship, then another missionary called me last night - she's a nurse in Nicaragua - goes out in the jungle doing health clinics to people who don't have medical care - and said - "Hey, let's get together!" Yes!!! Let's do!!!!!!

THEN- I ran across a dear man who spotted me at a seminar and fell for me - in a wholesome way - he got us involved in a marriage ministry and we made it huge, until "H" lost whatever it was he lost to push on.....but anyway, what a delight to have that bear of a man's arms around me in the delight of meeting once again - he and his wife were really special friends in our lives - - -

Boy, have we "holed up" in the last 10 years - - - -

hattigrace hauled me off to another art party last night - it was wonderful fun as always - I literally had to mentally whip myself out of the house - it was worth every minute - what cool people are there!!!!

Wow, even if it is a funeral - I am becoming alive as a social butterfly again....actually I am a shy person, would you believe it?


Biddie said...

You are such a lovely person, Gardenia, that I am not surprised that people that have been missing you want to re connect.
You amaze me in so many ways....I'm glad that despite losing your friend, you are feeling so upbeat and positive.
Hugs xx

Hattigrace said...

It was fun seeing you again last night. And Hostess was really happy you came too. I was pretty shocked at Dot's work. But then, I don't know why as she is meticulous, has a great eye and is patient. (skipped a generation on that point!)

I am getting that awakening back to prayer and devotion too.

tweetey30 said...

Its hard losing a good friend. I hope her spirit serves well in heaven also as it has in life itself. So sad when we lose a good friend. But anyway glad you had fun at the party.

Red said...

Sorry to hear about your friend passing.

Funerals are strange "social" occasions, but I think that people are far more true to themselves at a funeral than at, say, a wedding, where everybody gets swept up in the excitement. Rekindling a friendship at a funeral is more likely to result in a true effort to and a meaningful rapport.

Milla said...

I agree with Red's comment 100%.

And it's truly a beautiful post, Gardenia (I've read it 5 times already).

Hattigrace said...

Art Party not this
Sunday but next!! LOVE YOU!!!!

Stagg said...

You deserve the compliments and the reconnections...you've been working hard to allow your body to come close to having the energy your heart and soul wants...thats the main reason for caring for the body...so you can be active!

I am glad to hear you have met up with some great old friends and I see some more fun in your future!

The Manic Street Preacher said...

you live you die the bit in between is called life.

You keep enjoying babe xx

tshsmom said...

Isn't it a shame that it takes a funeral to re-connect with true-blue friends and family?!

My cousins and I always resolve to get together for occasions other than funerals, but it never seems to happen. :(