She was coming back after fifteen years in Saudi Arabia. I was coming back after ten years spent mostly in Florida. She was home. I was overseas. The memories, good and bad, came pouring out and it was wonderful to meet up with my former sister-in-law in England. We are the best kind of friends. We have shared memories of when our kids were born, when we took them to Holland Park in London to play, of births and labours and even how our marriages ended. Still, no matter what the world has thrown our way; we remain sisters. Funny how the years - not minutes, but years apart have not diminished our memories of important occasions, or lessened our commitment to being family.
On a seemingly different kind of friendship, I was honoured to introduce a lovely young French woman for Baptism in our English church. While I have permission to share a little of this story, I will change her name. I'll call her Marie. Marie is from a small town in Alsace-Lorraine and she was born and raised a Catholic of the old school variety. It was a challenge to find Jesus in her church, but a statue of Mary was front in centre and the priest was in control of life.
Marie and I got to know each other through a number of shared meals at church and we discussed faith and theology, and living in different countries. We talked about family stories and we shared them over a number of months. We laughed at the history of her area of the world running my fore-fathers/fore-family out of that area, as my family history is Huguenot. It was for Huguenots that the word "refugee" was coined.
"And here we are! Meeting up after ALL THESE YEARS?" said Marie and we wondered; perhaps a little fancifully, If her fore-parents had once lived next door to my fore-parents! All those centuries ago.
As Marie's faith deepened and she came to understand the protestant take on faith and church, she decided to be baptised. When I said I would be happy to introduce her at the baptism service in our Baptist church we decided that the introduction, along with her testimony, would reveal something of our connection. How was it that centuries after the Reformation, after the Protestants being run out of town; a Baptist woman had the privilege of introducing a Catholic woman for Baptism? It wasn't about one side winning. We both happen to love Pope Francis. It was complicated, and it was simple. She wanted Jesus to be the centre of her life, and as she now read Scripture for herself Marie saw the need to be baptised by immersion. It was about her spirit, soul and body coming into a commitment according to the Word. Sola Scriptoria.
Who brings the long memory to the table and unites us in bringing generational hurts and joys to a place of blessing. Sola Christos. Sola Sisterhood.
For the past couple of months I’ve stopped doing quite a few things. While most January blogs seem to have encouraged goals and expanding horizons, I’ve been cutting back. In so much of my life I’ve tried to do too much in too little time. So, I just stopped. I prayed some, read Scripture-lots. Enjoyed family and friends. And I didn’t try to figure out my life. I decided to quit trying to make stuff happen.
My problem is that I like so many things. My husband and I have a motorbike to ride. I have grandchildren to play with, and a wider family to chat with or share meals. I love being a part of a Community Gospel Choir. Then there is Zumba! It is pure joy to study at Spurgeon College. I love mentoring, and speaking at events.
I have missed writing this blog, and talking with people as they purchase my books.
So this month I’ve just started back with writing my blog. I had a book signing and loved talking with people, perhaps hearing a little of their story. We’ll just see how it goes. Oh, and I’ve “Marie Kondoed” our loft/attic!
May blessings abound in your family,