Eleanora shows me her bunny
I usually decline friendship requests on Facebook from people I don’t know. At the very least, I look for friends that we have in common before accepting their friendship. But Eleanora’s picture sort of captured me. I went to her page and saw that she lives in Milan. I thought that she might be friends with a friend that is not on Facebook, and maybe that person had talked about me. So I accepted her friendship request.
About a week later, Eleanora had a birthday, so I sent her birthday greetings, as I try to do with all my Facebook friends. She responded, “Grazie, sorella sconosciuta!” (Thanks, unknown sister). Aha! So we really don’t have any friends in common (at least not as far as either of us knows). This exchange initiated a chat in which we discovered that we live close to each other—walking distance—so we decided that we should meet.
The day of the meeting, I found myself halfway across town without my phone when I remembered our appointment. So I hurried home, grabbed my phone, and called Eleanora to let her know that I was on my way. Even though she lives walking distance from my house, I was already half an hour late, and the bus would get me there faster than walking. So I went to the bus stop. The sign said that the bus would be there in 9 minutes. I looked around and saw a pastry shop, so I popped in and bought Eleanora a little pastry. The baker wrapped it in a lovely little gold-lined box that for me was worth the price of the pastry. I had just enough time to get back to the bus stop and hop on the bus.
Eleanora has a youthful appearance that belies her true age (almost the age of my mother). On her shelf I saw a picture of a young Julie Andrews, and I commented on it because I have a friend who met Julie Andrews. She quickly corrected me: “No, that’s me. All those pictures are me, even the one that looks like a man. There I was playing the part of Stendhal.” Eleanora had been a stage actress and a painter. She’s a very creative and talented person. She had acted mostly in Rome under Zeffirelli before coming home to Milan.
Here in Milan she has acted at the Piccolo Theater, which is the most important theater venue in town.
Her glorious past aside, Eleanora became a follower of Jesus Christ. I already knew that much from checking out her Facebook page before accepting her friendship request. She had been raised Catholic, and hadn’t cared much for the church. But when she had an encounter with real born-again Christians, she went to church with them and met the Living Savior. She said that many of the things I post on Facebook encourage her. Well, that shouldn’t be a surprise, since encouragements is my main spiritual gifting.
Since those days she has battled some of the health issues that seem to plague us with age. The constant aches and pains had left her feeling discouraged. She showed me a painting that she was working on. She said that she hadn’t touched it in years. Even unfinished, I could see how beautiful it was. I really wanted to see it finished, but didn’t feel that I should say so on our very first meeting. I will tell her the next time I see her. I suspect that painting again could really lift her spirits.
As I left her house, I marveled that a chance meeting on Facebook had led me to become acquainted with a truly remarkable and precious sister in Christ. But then we know that in God there really are no chance meetings. This was a God set-up from beginning to end. God is good!
 There is La Scala, but it is almost exclusively opera and ballet.
 It’s not that I’m so encouraging, it’s just that I’m plugged into The Great Encourager. I can’t claim any credit because without the Holy Spirit’s supernatural gifting, I would be terrible at encouraging.