1975 was a pivotal year for me. In the midst of several traumatizing life events, I was lost, alone and questioning many spiritual things I thought I had understood.
The ones who looked like good people were not. I did not trust anyone.
My view of the world was further confused by my work. I was a nurse on a locked acute psychiatric unit. There were times when stepping into the delusional life of the patients was comforting to me.
I was essentially homeless. I was not out on the street yet, but I was between the home I had chosen to leave and too uncertain to simply return to my home with my parents in South Carolina.
I had no car. I had a limited income. I had not yet realized that God was with me until … He appeared through my coworker.
Jane was a nurse on the same psychiatric unit. I admired Jane because she was the perfect combination of strength and compassion. She really listened to patients and they listened to her.
She listened to me. One night, she said gently, but firmly, “You need to come home with me. I’ll take you.” And she did.
When we got to her home, I processed the full generosity of her offer. Jane lived in a tiny one room apartment. But she pulled out her sofa bed and set to making me welcome.
She was a wonderful cook. She fed me.
She had a car. She drove me to places I needed to go.
We sat up long nights and she comforted me.
Jane made a very significant investment in my future, even though none of us knew it then. She introduced me to her neighbor, Jay, who has been The Love of My Life for 43 years now.
Most of all, she restored my faith in God, not by preaching to me or making judgements about my choices, but by being there for me, a very present Comforter and Guide.
We took different paths after my time of crisis. We stayed in touch over the years, but mostly just once a year through letters and an occasional phone call. Each contact brought back fond memories.
This year, she called me, encouraging me to call her back. I laughed when I heard her message and she said, “Call me. When people get old, they just want to talk!”
I called her today. We reminisced about life, as it was long ago, and what had happened to us over the years. We talked of choices we had made, some we wished we could change, some that turned out well.
We acknowledged how the years had taken its physical toll on all of us, but we reaffirmed that we were glad we could still connect in heart.
We agreed we needed to communicate more than once a year. We’re getting old now. Waiting a year may be too long!
Tonight I am once again feeling intense gratitude to Jane, who was The Hands and Feet of Jesus to me. And I am realizing she probably never knew how much of a difference she made in my life.
Jane, you were and are a true friend. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in …”
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.”
Matthew 25:35 and 40
May The Love of Jesus surround you and enfold you always!