I pulled in behind her grey minivan, Shari stepping out from the driver's seat, arranging tin foil across a tiny platter of chocolate-dipped cookies.
"I didn't want to be the first one here," she laughed, and we walked up the driveway together.
Hugging our hostess, we stepped into two hours of conversation, camaraderie, and community. History piled high behind us as we poured countless glasses of raspberry iced tea and passed around a plate of sliced cucumbers, green peppers, and rich red tomatoes beside a ranch dipping sauce.
Stretching across the rectangular wooden table, the five of us served each other from the bowl of Italian pasta salad and held out photographs of recent trips and a friend's baby grand-daughter. New parent eyes gleamed dewy in the close up photo of a young mom and dad with a pink-faced newborn. At the table, we lingered long at that photo, tracing their sweet faces and knowing that feeling of treasuring love.
My blonde-haired friend gracefully gathered plates around us as conversations ebbed and flowed, while our hostess brought out brownies.
"I have this coffee drink," she smiled, bring out a carton of cold sweetened mocha. We swirled the drink before pouring, sipping, and exclaiming.
We cheered each others' successes, sheepishly admitted areas we were working on, and laughed in safe affection. All too soon, it was time to go. I gathered my bag, hugged my friends, and slipped out early for an obligation.
Last night, something woke me and I lay in the dark. My mind whirred and clicked, gaining momentum, planning To Do lists, before it sidled over to tease and tangle out the quiet worries. "What if...?" and possibilities loomed.
God whispered silent in the night, cuing me to bedrock. I agreed, nodding quiet and taking a deep breath.
How did that verse go? I wondered. Something like, I will not concern myself with things too lofty for me to understand...but I have stilled and quieted my soul...
Other verses slipped in, old favorites, and I said them to myself, lying motionless on the bed, I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
Wriggling my toes against the sheets, I gently stretched my legs, careful not to wake Mark. Breathing in and out, I spoke truth to myself.
And today as I pull my Bible close, those verses ring loudly again to me and leap off the page, repetitious truth that constructs a base for me. And suddenly I see the full context of those verses,
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too lofty for me to understand
But I have calmed and quieted myself;
I am like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child I am content (Psalm 131:1b-2).
The last verse in a section I was studying clinched it, "...be their shepherd and carry them forever (Psalm 28:9b).
Our times with dear friends are gifts, and God's whispers in the dark are gifts, both from a God who carries us, calms us, and quiets us, like an infant in its parent's arms.