Checking in with Friends, Part Two

 

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I am on a road trip from Asheville to Boston to meet with missionaries, friends, and one of my ministry partners, Allegra.  Checking in with friends has been lots of fun, but also important for ministry, since they are the core of my prayer team.  Today part two:

Sunday and Monday

I left Boston very early Sunday morning because I wanted to arrive in Killingworth, Connecticut in time for mass.  My friend and former writing partner, Miriam, would be singing at the early mass.  Killingworth was one of my very favorite places to live.  I love the town, I love my friends, and I had a beautiful house here.  When I moved away from Killingworth, I would have been very sad except that my dream was finally coming true: I was moving to Italy.

Miriam and I have stayed very close over the years.  Miriam is a Charismatic Catholic, an incredibly talented poet, and a dear friend.  Miriam and I were introduced by our mutual friend, Katie.  I lived two houses up from Katie, and the day she took me to meet her friend, Miriam’s mouth dropped open.  She said, “You’re a writer?  I was driving by your house about a year ago, and the Lord told me that a writer lives there.”  Miriam and I collaborated on a couple of writing projects—plays for my son’s elementary school.  Miriam helped me with that most difficult task, writing dialogue.

Miriam warmed up her voice as we drove from her house to the church.  The sun slowly rose, chasing away the low fog.  The leafless trees slumbered peacefully while the evergreens stood watching the golden dawn as the rest of the sleepy world slowly woke to a new day.  The church building is modern, with stained glass windows of simple birds: a cardinal in this one, a blue jay in that one.  A small crucifix is behind the altar, with a much larger cross and triumphant, resurrected Christ above it.  I like that.  The reminder of His suffering, but the more important, larger reminder of His victory over sin and death.

The priest and deacon were the only men serving at mass.  The two acolytes were girls, the reader was a girl and the cantor and organist were women.  Yet there were probably an equal number of men as women in the congregation.  Miriam and the rest of the choir sang O Come, O Come Emmanuel, which for me is one of my goosebumpy favorite Christmas songs.  The reading was from Philippians 4.  The fourth verse is that famous: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice![1]”  The deacon told us in his sermon that the song is actually not a Christmas song, but an Advent song.  He also said that this, the third week of Advent, is a week of joy because of the nearness of the Messiah’s birth, and the promise of redemption in Him.  And under the solemnity of the Eucharistic service, I did detect joy.

Then Miriam and I went to meet Katie for breakfast at a family-owned local restaurant.  It was as packed as the breakfast diner in Boston the day before.  We laughed and talked over breakfast until it was almost time for the lunch crowd to arrive.  We said goodbye to Katie and headed back to Miriam’s house.

Miriam changed clothes for the Christmas concert she would soon be doing at church.  Yes, back to church.  But this time, because it was a Christmas concert, there were many more people.  The children’s choir was there, the adult choir, a quartet, and a concert pianist, in addition to the organist and priest, who also played organ.  Miriam’s adorable granddaughter sang in the children’s choir, and it was nice to see so many families there together.  The audience was encouraged to participate by singing a few songs, too.

The program was followed by cookies in the narthex.  There, over cookies, I became reacquainted with another friend who had been a part of my Moms in Touch group.  Talking with Joan, and getting caught up on each other’s lives, gave Miriam a chance to do some friendly counseling with a younger woman from the church who was having trouble in her family.  Joan asked me if I was going to be in town for a few days.  Unfortunately not.  The next day I needed to return to Boston to meet with Allegra.

But this is what I love about what I do, because visiting friends (even if only briefly), talking about my ministry and life, hearing about their lives, praying together—all of this is ministry, and all of this is not so very different from what I do in Europe.  I’ve said many times that this doesn’t feel like work at all, even though these had been a very busy and full five days.  I have the best job in the world.  I’m living the life of my dreams.  My Boss treats me like a princess and a daughter.  What could possibly be better?

Tomorrow, my meeting with Allegra.  God is good!

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[1] Philippians 4:4, NIV.

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