Sunday, October 30, 2011

Making a context for spilled milk

Oct. 30, 2011

Dear friends,

Last week’s milk story was something like the quilt story from the week before. In both instances the story was more interesting than my postscript.

This week events in my life provided an additional postscript for the milk story that I think merits its own space, however.

Two women (sisters) with whom I have a long-time relationship came to visit me this week. We shared laughter, good food, hours of talking, and joyous music. We shared epiphanies, those places in our individual life journeys where seeing God’s shadow in events startled us, times when we knew His wordless comfort, and those times when we were suddenly delighted with a presence we sensed but did not see. And we talked about our relationship with each other stretching over nearly thirty years. Saying goodbye was difficult. We do not know when (or if) we will be together in this way again.

When they had gone, I thought about the richness of the experience, the strength and nurturing goodness of the relationship we share. I decided that the weekend itself was a much better postscript to the milk story than the one I wrote last week.

In the hours we three were together, we did indeed pay attention to wants and needs, theirs and mine. We had Italian pastries. They shopped while I rested. They found tiny Christmas lights with which to decorate my cane. We had dinner at a quiet old neighborhood restaurant we all enjoy, and lingered very long over dessert. We sang together. We talked about the changing shape of community in a digital world.

But over and around and beneath the hours we spent together flowed a love that spoke presence with each other, that shared the markers in our life journeys, and steadied each others’ steps. Be brave, we said to one another. Keep clear, we admonished each other. Spilled milk has little eternal importance. Do what you can with what you have. Be brave.

Perhaps a good relationship is one that gives spilled milk no more attention than it rightly merits, and that fosters courage to do what we can with what we have, particularly in those circumstances when doing so produces messy consequences.

Thinking with you this week that on the long road home what we most want and need are relationships that provide a eternal-sense context from which to view spilled milk together with love wise enough to insist on the courage to move on.

See you next week.


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