I just returned from a week end in Chicago with fourteen dear friends from high school.  There are so many sweet memories running through my mind that I don’t know which one to savor first and longest.  Starting with my roommate is no doubt a good beginning.  Ellen is her name and we hadn’t been particularly close in high school but we were in the same group.  We called ourselves “the Superlatives.”  We were certain then, that we were, and deserved to be, the envy of all the other girls in the school.  Needless to say we made a few enemies along the way.  But it’s now nearly 55 years later and we have mellowed.  Thank goodness, we have mellowed.

Life has a way of humbling you.  We have all had our crosses to bear, our barriers to full acceptance in one arena or another.  But we are survivors.  With a sense of humor, we have survived the troubled times.  And this  brings me to what I want to say about my roommate for the week end, Ellen.  Just a couple of months ago she lost her husband to alzheimers.  Because he was young, having just retired a few short years ago, it was devastating to her and their children.  But putting one foot in front of the other is what she and they have had to do.  And they have done it.  They have been courageous and comforted by the knowledge that nothing stays the same and that all is well despite appearances, sometimes.

As mentioned earlier, Ellen and I had not been particularly close in high school. There were 21 of us in the group and most had 3 or 4 whom they drew closest too.  She had hers and I mine.  But for the week end we had each other and the time was perfect for two women with very different life experiences to grow in appreciation of one another.  My journey into alcoholism and drug addiction and then recovery is a far cry from the journey she has been on, but it was evident that the details of the past were not as important as the pleasures we were experiencing in the present.

That’s how it should always be.  Let the past be past.  Sink your teeth into the present.  It’s the “gift” we have been given for the moment.  Ellen shared many tender moments about her husband, Bud.  And I listened with intention.  That’s the proper role always, for every one of us.  Being each others’ witness is the kindest offering we can make.

The encounters with all the rest of the women, plus two of their husbands, sent me home with a renewed spirit for the work I am “assigned to” at this very moment.  Knowing, as I do, that our paths have been selected for us, our experiences too, allows me to breath easily on this lovely afternoon.  On every afternoon, as a matter of fact.  We are not accidental friends.  We are, each one of us, threads in the tapestry of life that 21 women have been spinning for seventy years now.

Thanks be to God.

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