Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Fellowship (among believers) (10/11/07)
- TITLE: Shekinah
By Beth Muehlhausen
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The day I met Lois I knew there was something special about her.
I’d heard about this woman in her early seventies from the neighborhood children who affectionately called her “The Cookie Grandma,” so was glad to see her working in her yard as I trotted down the road in the autumn sunshine.
“Hello!” she shouted through a big smile stretching from one prominent cheekbone to another.
Drawn like a magnet, I slowed my pace to stand before her piles of newly fallen leaves. “Uh, hi! I’ve heard a lot about you – you’re Lois, right?”
“That’s me! And you’re new to the neighborhood. Your name again, is … ?”
“I’m Jean. My husband and I are retiring in the little white house down the road.”
“So glad to meet you; we’ll have to get acquainted! Would you like to come for tea sometime soon – say, maybe Thursday?”
Lois exuded something unusual – perhaps an invitation to share comfort? Caught off guard by her instantaneous warmth, I responded, “Sure! What time?”
“Oh, would two o’clock in the afternoon be alright? Don’t eat much lunch and we’ll enjoy a little something together.”
On Thursday I woke with a sense of expectancy, almost like a child awaiting a holiday celebration or a friend’s birthday party. The morning hours seemed to crawl by lethargically as I frittered the time while piddling with my usual chores.
Finally at one fifty-five I walked the short distance to Lois’ house, scuffing rust-colored leaves all the way, and rang the doorbell.
“Hello dear girl! Here you are; please come in!”
Lois greeted me with a hug akin to those shared between family members or life-long friends, and then ushered me inside to her kitchen. There my eyes feasted upon a linen-covered table proudly displaying delicate china, silk flowers, and a huge pillar candle. Two plates sat side-by-side, full of tantalizing morsels. A framed picture of Lois and another woman stood next to the inevitable teapot.
“Here’s your place – see your nametag?” I picked up the rose-rimmed card highlighting my name and a scripture verse: Psalm 119:103,104. As I sat down and spread a napkin framed with hand-crocheted lace in my lap, Lois’ voice recited “my” verse of the day.
“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.”
“I so love the Psalms!” Her radiant face spoke volumes.
“Thanks Lois - I totally agree! Now I have to ask – who is that other woman in the picture with you?”
Lois’ eyes grew soft. “That’s my baby sister who died years ago as a young mother. I always bring that picture to my tea parties – it’s almost as if she’s here.”
Suddenly the unity in this tiny room grew to include three rather than two. Obviously Lois expressed a magnified and inclusive love – so opposite of the guarded, limited cultural norm.
As Lois poured the teapot’s hot water over my cinnamon-apple teabag, spicy aromatherapy wafted upwards and hung over the table – a reminder of God’s cloud of Shekinah glory.
“Now tell me about yourself,” Lois prompted. “Anything at all – whatever you want. I’m all ears.”
She picked up a tiny tuna sandwich edged with ruffled lettuce, took a small bite, and waited for me to speak. Her knowing eyes seemed to pierce mine as if in search of some treasure she already knew was there. Interestingly, I felt no shame or hesitancy - only the desire to authentically bare my soul.
“I … I don’t quite know why I’m telling you this … but I’ve been praying for a mentor, Lois ... someone a bit older and wiser who knows the Lord and can counsel me. My husband’s health is failing and sometimes I feel so alone ... you know?”
The candlelight reflected in her eyes as she reached out a beautifully manicured hand to clasp mine. “I’m here for you, honey, all the way. The Lord and I have navigated some pretty rough spots in my own life; I know what it means to rely on His grace and power.”
Somehow I believed her. A tear rolled down my cheek as I took a sip of tea knowing this kind of unity and transparency to be unique to kindred spirits – those who engage in the holy privilege of Christian fellowship.
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