The sun and blue sky finally came out today. It is a “late lie” day for me, as I came slowly into consciousness and presence. It has all been slow for me. Not for Molly. Up by 7:00, she was out the door by 8:00, joining senior shoppers in replenishing our grocery supplies. And then taking our car in for winterizing.
“You are such a busy bee!” I marveled. “Yes, I am a busy bee,” she said. It was an affirmation of her returning to full strength after her periodic needle in the eye ordeal which she faces with equanimity, but leaves her worn out for the day.
She is a brave stalwart in the art of living, and I observe, and rejoice and learn so much from her.
She also leads the way in telephone calls. And two came in fast succession which turned this into a day of wonder and warmth, laughter and renewed life.
The first call came from one of the dearest of friends in our life – the one known to our children as “Auntie Joanie.” She lives in a huge retirement center just north of Boston. She is 94, drives a Mustang, and loves everyone as a conscious discipline of her lively faith. She and Bill came to Edina from New England. They found our church, became deacons, and went about introducing Colonial members to each other. She wanted everyone to know everyone else.
Bill died an early death in his 50’s. He had taught hospital administration at the University of Minnesota. He knew something about everything. People loved to laugh with Bill. Their love of Jesus and of all of us enriched Colonial’s life. Bill, Joan, and their daughters were among the first costumed “Pilgrim Families” at our Thanksgiving Day Pilgrim Services. Bill’s death was a blow to all our people – and to his family. What was Joanie to do?
We invented a job for her with volunteers, at church. She became instantly the lover of Colonial. She soon was everywhere, touching people, visiting hospital bedsides, organizing “wedding ladies” and “funeral ladies.”
She wept. She prayed. She embraced. She made Colonial “a company of love.” She taught the staff to hang around after church to just talk to people in the common. Her parting word was always “luv-luv!”
Widowed men wanted to beau her to lunch. One 5-year-old boy, between his parents, announced as they passed Joanie in the greeting line, “That’s the lady who loves me.” Molly still advises young ministers, “If you want a church growth program, GET A JOANIE!”
As she called us today from Massachusetts, I could hear her voice across the room, laughing and talking with Molly. Reminiscing about shopping and other adventures they’d had together. She asked about each of our children, all dear to her, as she is to them.
We parted in love, thanking God for Joan’s healing phone call and praising God for the wonderful gift of this heaven-sent phone call.
“Now let’s return this other call which I think must have been from George Ross. “ It was in his soft, faithful, pastoral voice from Minnesota’s north country woods and lakes, spoken out of his Ojibwe tones of Christian love, wanting to know how we were, and how mutual friends like Bill and Val were.
George is a retired Episcopal minister who has made himself a dear friend to many of our Colonial people. He has been my dear friend and brother for a quarter-century or more. Teams from the Pilgrim Center have piled into a van and headed north to Walker on a late fall Saturday for many years to host lunch in the back room of Jimmy’s Restaurant with 25 of us Ojibwe and Pilgrim Center friends, to eat, and talk, and tell our stories, and weep and pray and be blessed by the friendship God has created between us for so long.
George and his Ojibwe Singers have come down for Colonial Church occasions to be with us as our friends. We have shared in his beloved Angie’s funeral. We’ve “done church” together in Redby on the shores of Red Lake. When it came time to say goodbye today, George said, “May I give a blessing?” which indeed he did, and a deeply touching prayer for us and all the friends. We hung up nearly in tears.
– Of joy. Such a blessing on our day. What a reminder of the greatest gift of friendship Jesus has given us in our precious friends Joanie and George, precious souls in our lives.
So, armed and enabled, we go on, so glad to still be alive, and part of such a company!
Love to you all, this Thanksgiving week.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
|Arthur Rouner Ministries||
ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES