21 December 2012

day 8: traveling mercies

back in college when he went to new york with reformed university fellowship, my Mister phoned from the road to say, "i met this girl named betsy. you would really like her." he knew her from young life where they both served as leaders at different high schools, but still closely acquainted. shortly thereafter i moved to knoxville. he introduced me to her again and again until about the third time when he said, "betsy, have you met my girlfriend?" she and i embraced and said, "yes! we are best friends already!" it seems like a million years ago. all those small meetings that seemed inconsequential then, but now i relish. 
it started with one boy...

right after we became friends, betsy introduced us to her boyfriend, a strapping alabama boy with a passion for music and jesus. pretty soon that same boy ended up spending more than a few weekend nights on the sofa of the bachelor pad where my Mister shared an apartment with 3 other guys. josh would drive in on the weekends to see betsy and crash with the guys. the rest is history. she married him. i married mine all within months of one another. they moved to nashville, we followed a year later. 

we were living in married student housing at vanderbilt. josh and betsy lived around the corner. betsy and i would meet a few times a week on the corner of blakemore and hillsboro road after a work day for a walk and a talk. we would cruise through the serpentine streets of hillsboro village dreaming of houses and families that would fill them. 

there is an irish proverb that says, "a man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest." my friend betsy now has 7 men in her life. one whom she married and 6 to whom she gave birth. all those many years ago, neither of us would have imagined being mothers to all boys: she 6, me 4.

recently her husband graduated with his Ph.D. this is in addition to an M.B.A. and an M.Div. you might say they have lived a lot in the short seventeen years of marriage. and have moved- a lot. i am grateful that there has not been a home of theirs where i haven't visited. if i squint i can see their first apartment in hillsboro village, their married student housing in mississippi, the adorable cottage in clarksdale, their first home in orangeburg, the welcoming porch of their bugalow in louisville and now the magnificent manse of greensboro where we gathered back in july watching all our boys sup and shoot bb guns. 

a couple of weeks ago when she boarded a plane with a newborn and her mother-in-law to celebrate what is the final{?}post graduate degree of her husband, i couldn't help but feel that she too earned that ph.D. she was the one who wrangled boys to the supper table and swept up the crumbs both literally and figuratively. she was the one who kept the home stocked with the midnight oil on hand for those late nights. i am deeply proud of my sweet friend who would be the first to confess she is no saintly pastor's wife. 

over the weekend of her Mister's graduation she texted photographs from his ceremony. i realized so much of our lives as friends have been separated by hundreds of miles. babies born, husbands with career upheavals, deaths. it's hard to believe that the 2 years we spent as neighbors were a flash in the pan compared to the 15 we have kept acquainted despite all the moves and miles. but she has been that faithful friend despite the inconvenience, who managed to drive the detour for a meet up whether it be at the beach, at our family reunion or in our front yard for a quick drive by hug. 

there is another irish blessing that goes: 
May the road rise to meet you, 
May the wind be always at your back, 
  May the sun shine warm upon your face, 
 May the rains fall soft upon your fields, 
And, until we meet again, 
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand

and that is what i wish for my precious friend who i love like a sister and who has sojourned many miles.

...and ended with 10 {baby joseph not pictured}


post script: if you live in the greensboro, alabama area and are looking for a christian fellowship, consider first presbyterian church. more here.

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