Faith and friends soften hard times

 The first time I visited my friend’s home, her dogs curled up at our feet and her horse hunkered just below the front door. That’s not important really, except I found it odd. The door opened from the second story. No stairs below, just prairie grass poking through the snow, and that patient horse, poised like the proverbial steed under a castle window (though with no waiting knight).

If I had the nerve, I told Theresa, I’d open the door, hop on and ride off into the West. She chuckled. “The plan was to put in stairs, but the horse was free.”

Funny what you remember.

We were three friends gathered, all women. We’d found a common day, shucked our regular schedules, and carved out time for the thing women once did more than we do now—get together for an Olympic talking event.

We ate salad. We drank hot tea. Then we swaddled on couches in that cavernous, unfinished, husband-built and mostly unheated house. A wood stove in the basement puffed its hardest, but 3,000 square feet wants a lot of logs. We kept coats on our shoulders and quilts on our laps.

Along the west wall the pale winter sun streamed through a series of floor-to-ceiling windows, setting the counter-less cupboards and chipboard floors aglow. It dappled the flea market finds and the old dog on the pillow. The crazy one, leaping from lap to lap, didn’t sit still long enough for dappling.  

Two of us were grandmothers, but we giddied up, like girls. Like men in an ice-fishing shack, but without beer. Our words tumbled out. We interrupted each other. We laughed until we cried. One of us cried until she laughed. Someone said, “Hey, you finished now? It’s my turn!”

We spoke of life’s worries and warts. Of investments gone bad and dreams detoured by debt and disability. We talked of how dollars depart the bank account before days depart the calendar. Of faith. Of frailty.

We drank copious pots of herbal tea, warming our hands on our mugs. We gave each other advice, and swapped money-saving tips. But we talked longest about what God had taught us through our hard times.

All that tea has to go somewhere. I got up and headed south through the house a quarter-kilometre or so in search of a washroom. On the way, I trod on manna—scriptures scrawled in permanent marker on the chipboard floors. Living words like these:

 “Don’t worry about tomorrow—it has enough trouble of its own,” and  “All things are possible with God,” and, “Be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord,” and, “Some trust in horses, and some in chariots, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

Investments crash. Jobs end. Governments disappoint. Health fails. Theresa knew this well, but creatively chose to remind herself and her large family of life’s only true security.

Worried? Trust God. If necessary, buy a Sharpie.