So, I’m sitting here in tears, can bearly see the screen for the flow of grace, like the soft rain falling just beyond the window. I count gifts all the time, because it’s one of the most powerful ways I know to keep these dim eyes glued on Truth, and this one gusts in to fill up empty spaces I have scarcely even begun to acknowledge. This one washes me; it smooths salve on my wounds; it covers over my nakedness and gathers me in. This one puts arms on Love:
gift: one of my daughter’s very best friends is a friend of mine.
I could let that sit. It would be enough. But there’s more:
Bold black in my email inbox, the unread message just says re:restorative yoga. It comes from this deeply beautiful friend, so I open it up to read. And the thread that falls loose is silken, glorious. Thank you for your response, it begins, addressed not to me, but to someone else, a yoga teacher who offers one-on-one classes. Riley and I have done yoga together at my house twice…We have also been to two different classes. She does quite well but needs someone to show her more than just what to do. I’ll copy Riley’s Mom so she can see what I am up to. As I continue to read, the words take shape in my mind, filling the grooves of something else, Spirit-carved. It is the real shape of love.
Saturdays, these two sometimes venture out to lunch, to my friend’s house to make homemade granola, to go shopping , or yes, to go to yoga and out for frozen yogurt. I stand on the front porch and wave them off, hard pressed to find a joy brighter than that light-lit smile on Riley’s face as they embark on their adventures. Growing up, there were women who wrapped arms around me in similar ways, who set aside doing and tired to spend time with me. These days it seems rare to see love expressed that way, but oh, how we want that for our daughters–the thick strength of womanhood wrapped and gathered about their roots.
So this morning’s thread unwinds, another stunning shade, and I drop into a chair. This is love in action, I think, and it’s the Samaritan I witness, finding that broken man in need. Coming to where he was, the Samaritan saw him, had compassion upon him, and bound up his wounds.
My friend comes to us right where we are, in the middle of our rolling, dusty chaos, and she sees our Riley—not with a mere glance, but with knowing, with clear comprehension of the force of her. She sees the bright light of our daughter, the gifts, the God-bought worth, and also the difficulty. So on her way and finding us, she loves.
Her words on the screen sketch out the scene for me: I think with a good teacher working hands-on with her, [Riley] would understand the actions and poses much more easily, our friend has written. I also think that a daily practice would benefit her so greatly. She needs help learning to dissipate anxiety…I think she holds her anxiety in her lower back. And suddenly, the gift gusts, and my tears fall like rain as I realize that their yoga outings have been more than just fun. These experiences have been bandages for healing, carefully held in my friend’s hands; sensitively wrapped. Having seen Riley’s desperate, prayerful struggle with anxiety, our friend resolved to do more than say keep warm and well fed. Witnessing our wounds, she decided not to pass by on the other side, not even to advise a solution that might have only left us more overwhelmed. Instead, she stops to bind my daughter’s wounds herself, pouring on oil and wine. She opens her arms to mentor, to equip Riley with skills that will help her for life. Recognizing the challenges of autism, she even seeks out this one-on-one instructor with the hope that she can help Riley learn the poses. All this our friend offers generously, taking all of the responsibility upon herself. I have read this parable so many times…and now again I’ve seen it, again felt it myself, the healing hands, the lifting, the opulent, lavish grace.
This friendship is unanticipated provision. It builds and fills and mends. It is a gift.
I drag a palm across my cheek and peer bleery, trying to compose some kind of reply, some recognition: So, forgive the mom her tears over here. This is just beautiful in all different directions, I begin, but I have to set aside my phone to dry my cheeks.
My friend, she could never have known that her email would find me just risen from prayer, just freshly emptied and owning my own uncertainty in the face of so much need—but her email comes as a direct and immediate answer to my whispered, vulnerable petition:
Help, just please help.
She is the help He sends, the grace sufficient for today.
My friend’s gift—not just the email that shares it, but the history it represents—that gift is today a table spread before me in a season of famine, and I smile as these tears of mine begin to fall again, because His favorite intimate name for Himself is I AM. Today, He has once again shown Himself present and abundant through the love of a friend—love not with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.
So I offer thanks, more felt than spoken, counting the gift.
And this, the gentle, soul-shaping reply: Go, and do likewise.