[This was written Sunday, June 4, 2017]
These days…and, truth beckoning at times it’s daze…lots of moments of yesterday, yestermonth, yesteryear and yesterdecades.
A letter received brought back perhaps as important a moment that literally gave my life direction…and perspective. It was “all Jeannette’s fault,” I remind her.
Jeannette? In high school, Jefferson, Portland, Oregon, it was Jeannette Butts. We were BFF, although in those days, Friend would do. She was what I call a truth friend…to share and to listen the not-to-be-shared deeper thoughts. Not sure of the weekend, but I remember Jeannette and I were 16 so I could drive. We went to Ione, Oregon [the only Ione I know is a dear friend in Florida.] because we were on the Cabinet of the Pilgrim Fellowship of the Oregon Congregational Denomination. And, our purpose was to visit with the Ione Congregational Church in central Oregon to visit about strengthening their youth group. Just sayin’…as if we knew the answers???
We drove back to Jeannette’s home at 7th and Going in Portland. I was troubled—this can be shared—because for reasons I may never learn, I figured at 16 the future should be declared. So, picking up my puzzled brow, Jeannette asked, “Where are you?” [She was great at the best questions.]
I replied, “I’m not sure what I should be when I grow up.”
She didn’t hesitate, broke into laughter.
“Jeannette, what’s funny?”
“Mark, you KNOW the answer, you’re going to become a minister…how could you even ponder that?”
I know that was 1956…16…now it’s 2017, 61 years later. And for every minute since then, Jeannette and I have remained BFF. She’s married, lives in Hawaii, has family. I know of no one with more energy and creativity and just plain LIFE. She’s become such a contributor, with her husband Vili Hereniko, in creating films and leading film events in Hawaii. Before he died, film critic Roger Ebert and his wife would attend Jeannette’s film events, write them up with great affirmation.
Then. Last week. I received an e-mail—many of us did—that Jeannette’s been diagnosed with cancer…small cell with the lymph system involved. Currently in consultation with oncologist for next step treatment options.
I hurt over this…and those who read my blogs, know of others who are in serious battles with health…for Joanne Carlson Brown and her spouse, Christie Brown with Christie’s brain cancer, with Brian Duty our nephew [he’s 32] with the inoperable brain cancer [I’m thrilled Brian will join me to battle Fall Chinook Salmon on the Columbia River in August], with Hannah with restricted anorexia, with my sister, Marilyn’s death—her Celebration of Life will be on June 11—with my wife, Diane’s, battle with pain, with Jason’s divorce [Diane’s son]. The world of life and living blasts us. And I’m sure, way deep inside, for each of you.
This day, this morning, June 4, 2017, it’s Pentecost Sunday in the Christian Church. Pentecost is the arriving present and presence of the Holy Spirit, the Very Presence of God. Which dwells with us and within us…never to ever, ever leave us, in life, through death and forever more.
I pray. I pray for those who have shared with me their intense and at times personal shattering world, and for those mentioned. On this day, the particular name I will share with God is Jeannette. She’s the best friend…in fact, I called her a bestest friend.
So. Jeannette—lots and lots of love and prayers to you…and Vili…know you matter, know you are valued…know you bring me life…and to think, it all started 61 years ago with your laugh.