Three of us settle next to each other on the soft couch in this light-filled room – plates of homemade crab-cheese wontons, strawberries and papaya slices, skewered Chinese-spiced beef, refreshing lemon and cherry blossom cookies in our laps – joy spilling over for the glowing bride-to-be and floating around us like romance and music.
I can hear that joy in the lilt of women chattering all around…see it in the gorgeous shades-of-pink floral arrangements here and there – dahlias, roses, gladiolas radiating beauty set in crystal for this day – feel it in the loving hands that have decorated and prepared and bestowed this bouquet of celebration... anticipate it in the still-wrapped presents glitter-lining the fireplace hearth.
As we nestle back against the couch, amidst the “How have you been’s” and “What have you been up to’s,” conversation with these women I see maybe once or twice a year at various occasions suddenly becomes real and earnest. Hearts shared, like books open to the most touching parts of their story.
“Sometimes I can barely move with the fatigue of it all,” she is sharing. I look into her eyes, see some of myself there and understand more than usual her feelings of overwhelm. Though I don’t personally know the exact malady she suffers from, there are ways I do know. Something in her description of her daily struggle with severe diabetes makes my spirit do a flip flop as I hear the inner whisper to… lift her up.
“My sugar levels bounce up and down so often these days,” she explains. She is strong, but I hear the vulnerable heart in her words, see it in her eyes. “I’m so grateful for my husband recognizing when I need him, coming with me even to grocery shop, knowing that even pushing the grocery cart is a struggle in those moments…”
We listen and ask questions, share a little of the ways we know from our own lives. We get up and begin mingling… and I find myself behind her again as we both bend over a board of old wedding photos to be matched with current ones. And as I look over her shoulder at these pictures, I am praying God’s healing touch on her, asking Him to strengthen and relieve and refresh…
Gifts are opened and I treasure the sparkle I see in the bride-to-be’s eyes… She looks so pretty and radiant in her deep fuchsia dress, and we all lean in as one to delight over each new gift right along with her. The lovely pattern she has chosen for her dishes, the bright and cheerful towel sets, the darling set of luggage and new outfits for her honeymoon. I have chosen and wrapped a bit of the classic I’ve loved sharing with her over her childhood… some ballad Sinatra to remind her of other-era stars we’ve both enjoyed together and to fill her car with romance on the way to her new home, an old-fashioned scallop-edged bridal box of beauty creams with it’s sentimental yet fresh design, a fun old musical that speaks to her new life to come, a beautiful touch of scripture and music to share with her husband… Someone comments how my gifts show I really know this couple… I smile and hope she feels that way too…
And in my mind’s eye I see her both as the little girl I watched grow up – shared giggles and music and faith with – and as this lovely young woman on a threshold of a new life with her wonderful young man… I thank God for their shared love of Him, the light that surrounds them, all our looking forward to their big day…
Then, as this afternoon’s celebration comes to a close, I hear another whisper to my spirit… Tell her you want to pray for her, before you go…
Suddenly, people are leaving, and someone is pressing me to decide about a ride that can take me the hour drive back home, since I have carpooled here… “I just need to say goodbye to someone,” I say hurriedly, turning back to catch her before she leaves. Find her.
“I want to pray for you,” I say as I do. Her eyes well. “How should I pray? For your blood sugar to stabilize?”
“Yes!” she breathes with a smile. “And what can I pray for you too?” She mentions something important, and I say yes…but then briefly share something even more. I find my own eyes welling and try to stop the tide flow. “I’m sorry,” I mumble, “just so many things going on…for ALL of us…”
She takes my hands, and in her eyes, I know she understands too.
So quickly it seems…we are all on our way… the day is over.
And as I think about it later, I bless the Lord for this lovely, lovely day. A celebration I am SO joyful for, flowing with blessings on everyone there. And… a sacred encounter.
It reminds me of how my friend and I love to pray even for strangers, and how we’ve talked about going out together sometime, to “prayer-walk” and see whom the Holy Spirit might lead us to pray for… maybe even stop to encourage and let them know we are praying (as we read of someone who did just that)…
For all this week, I have lifted this woman up even as I pray for myself… morning, noon and night, finding Him prompting me to pray… Lord, stabilize her blood sugar. Flow your peace and calm over her each time she checks it. Help her to feel healthy and strong in ways she hasn’t in a long time. And fill her with the joy that you ARE hearing and moving in her prayers, mine and so many others… our healing, by Your wounds borne for us…
And somehow I think…she will stay in my prayers daily…as I look forward to hearing and sharing blessings to come, next time we meet.
…those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
© Pam Depoyan
To do: This week, look for His Sacred Encounters… 🙂