Honesty. Truth transparent. How often it happens. You may squint to find when it does.
But. I need to share. Because it just happened. With very bad news. Yet, at the deepest level of friendship and loyalty and love, it just did.
In my last parish [like most ministers and even members at times it appears to be more perish than parish] a couple in the church, Hugh and Jane Smith were closer than family. Hugh, retired as an obstetrician/gynecologist, and Jane, his devoted spouse, were “with me” each step in that church, especially when I left.
I had major decisions to make…around particular calling in both marriage and ministry. They had me to dinner and listened. Before that, Hugh and I spent a week together in Berkeley, training for Stephen Ministry, which we then brought back to our church. SM is a laity centered caring ministry, which extended the presence of the church pastors. Hugh was better than good. He was great in helping to launch the SM ship and never sink.
In my deliberation they offered me their Tucson condo to meditate and literally walk the desert. My partner during that reflective journey was Mercy, my English Cocker Spaniel. Mercy knew when I ached and her healing licks to my face softened the tears. I made my decision. Returned.
Hugh and Jane [that was 1995, more than 20 years ago] never left me….in prayer and in love. They, on a 1-10 scale, push a 20. Always.
Because this morning I received a call from Hugh [he and Jane are just north of 90] to share that Jane’s having a difficult time with vertigo and some strokes. Okay. Certainly in their 90’s this is to be expected. More than expectation, however. So much more.
I was pleased to learn Jane is cognitive and can communicate. The visit with her, following getting caught up by Hugh, was one of the most special ever. It is the FIRST TIME Jane has said, “Mark, I’m having a very difficult time.” Rare. Not that she hasn’t had those…plenty I presume. But honestly, Jane is the least complaining person I know. Her manner is the best definition of humility. So. To share it, “life is tough,” means it’s serious and painful.
It was a tearful exchange, from both of us…to convey to her how much I love her and share, certainly with brevity, how much she and Hugh mean to me. I am so grateful to have that moment.
I simply needed to write there are people in our lives we will never miss. Much to the contrary there are people who mean the world and have made our lives and living so much better. Hugh and Jane Smith are the “better-bringers.” They got me through when the getting through was questionable.
Prayers for both of them…always. Thanks for letting me share this moment with you.
Grace and peace and hope…always, Mark.