There was one last cup of good coffee...I poured my mug full and thought about the day. It had been breezy...the weather was turning...summer days would soon be far behind. I did not want the winter to be harsh, but I had a deep down hunch--and wondered if it would be; and if so, well...we had weathered harsh winters before. The day's conversation had brought back some of those memories, and renewed consolation that there's nothing new under the sun. And after every winter comes the spring again.
We kind of crammed these plans in our pockets at the last minute. Everybody was busy and we didn't know until nearly "the day of" if it would work out or not. But it did...and I felt happy as I watched my friends around my table enjoying my simple salad & sandwich lunch. I had to smile, seeing and hearing us interact again. These friends I have-they're just like a good book-one of those kind you can hardly put down, and you'd be willing to miss sleep just to read another chapter. Then when you finally have a chance to pick it up again, you jump right back into the momentum of the story. Our friendship is like that-the events of our lives weave together to make up some of the most intriguing pages you could ever read. And every session ends with, "...to be continued."
Whenever we get together, we always tell our kids and hubbies that we'll be home in a little while, but the more we "read", the harder it is to "put down the book". And our search for a "good stopping place" just gets us deeper into the plot. We laugh together, we cry together, we talk with our hands and finish each other's sentences. And the entire time something wonderful is happening...we're being filled up with a deep, inner richness that smoothes out Life's rough edges and fills in the cracks of the dry, parched soul. We find gold mines together and we share the wealth. When the chapter is funny, the laughter that fills the room is a clear, bubbling brook that refreshes everybody. When the story is sober, and the cry of a wounded heart is heard, the tears of compassion flow all around; and in the tender, caring atmosphere of friendship, healing can begin. It's a connection that leaves no one on the outside. There's common ground where the feelings run strong and free; and the miracle of the truly kindred spirit touches everyone in the room, braiding us together like strands of a strong rope.
As I tipped my cup for the last sip, another picture filled my thoughts: wagons - prairie wagons circling the camp as the sun went down and the darkness of night began to settle on the plains. We hear a lot about the pioneers of the Old West and how brave they were-about the many hardships they had to endure and the unimaginable sorrows they experienced. But I am convinced that the ones who made it all the way with hope to spare knew the priceless value of friendship and sharing. One wagon could easily fall prey to all the perils of the journey; but when a company of wagons encircled the camp, there was not only comfort, security and strength-there was a BIG fire...the kind that sends warmth, light, and new hope in all directions; burning late into the night, keeping the desert chill at bay and the creatures of the darkness back against the shadow of the hills.
There's not a human being anywhere that has never felt loneliness. But there is a way to travel through life that takes the 'bite' out of that word. And that is the way of friendship. Because in the Circle of Wagons, there is more of everything: more strength, more safety; more grub and more common sense. It can be a challenge to pull the circle together at times, but it's always worth the extra effort. There will be someone who has already been where you are going and who has already tasted what it's your turn to try. Someone who can fix what you've broken and patch what you've torn. Friends can see for you when the sun's in your eyes and pull you up when you're too weak to climb. They can give you hope when your barrel is empty and make you laugh when you want to cry. And if there IS an attack, you're not alone to fight the battle.
"We're pioneers, too..." I thought. " We've got a vision to fulfill and we have our prairie wagons loaded with hopes and dreams. We have the Trails of Life to travel with the storms and the varmints and the unexpected turns. And we have the two most important ingredients of a successful journey: God to guide us, and friends to walk beside us..." And as I glanced at the clock and realized how quickly the time had passed, I had one last comforting thought: "It's time for the next leg of the journey; and whether it's a field of flowers or a raging river it'll make a good story around the Fire of Friendship when the wagons circle once again."
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To Ponder and Muse 9/24/1998- rbh
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW
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