“Would you like coffee? Or can I take you to lunch?” I wanted to care for my guest, to treat her, to honor her travel to my place. “No! Please. Can we just sit right here and talk? I want to be with you! No, no, I don’t want to wait while you make coffee--I don’t want to waste a minute!”
And so, over my protests of desire to feed my guest, to carry her off somewhere with furniture and china and a marina full of boats and blue sparkle, we sat in junk-store chairs turned to the window in the empty room. And we talked.
Kathleen hails from my long-ago. Thirty years have passed since my friend Susan and her friend Kathleen house-sat. Memory is oh-so-vague. A young woman in prairie dress with long hair done up in a bun. No make-up, no jewelry, as mandated by the sect to which they belonged. Fun, happy-spirited, easy-going.
We reconnected last year. Susan put Kathleen onto Cracked Old Pots, and she engaged me. She told me how in ’95 she left the sect and put her hand in that of Jesus. How in some mysterious way we had played a part through impressions and memories. Joyous surprise.
Since then we’ve read each other’s work and conversed a bit. Kathleen exudes energy and encouragement with books to recommend, articles and music to explore, creative groups to join with--introducing me to a far-away creative world of which I know nothing. I, in overwhelmed weariness, have been more passive. So touched by the extravagance of her love for a quiet near-stranger in a faraway place.
So when I headed to Sequim a few weeks ago to take possession of our newly-purchased bolt-hole in the US I floated a suggestion. “Would you come and spend a day with me?”
Oh, the blessed conversation! We shared our families, our love for our husbands, our passion for hospitality and mutual appreciation of the work that it is. We talked about the church and genuine community. She spoke wonderful, expressive phrases: “workbook Christianity,” and “community happens in circles, not in rows.” She confessed to trepidation as she stood outside my door. Who would greet her? Her memory retains a sleek, sophisticated Jeri. (I laugh.) She rejoiced over the worn, old-comfy-clothes, no-makeup-wet-hair-braided-back version. Her only inarticulate moment of the day was in response to my “what if” a tan and classy woman had greeted her in my voice.
But then she rose to speak of true beauty, of the beauty of one who knows herself beloved. Passion pervaded her voice once more. “What is the best gift I can give my husband? To let him love me! To receive his love with joy and gratitude! To affirm it and desire it and celebrate it!” She continues. “The Bible tells us that to Christ WE are BRIDE! That what He most desires is that we enjoy and celebrate His love!”
The Hallelujah chorus swelled in my mind. In her utterance the sweep, the trembling desire of Song of Songs reverberated and echoed. She spoke my journey better than I had verbalized it even to myself--so that today I hold, I rest in, that crystal vantage point.
Kathleen, the beloved bride, alive and free enough to know it in a way that radiated from her whole being. Thank you, sister of my heart.