Some of you may remember that I recently posted about attending the 60th birthday party of an Indian friend of ours – with lots of bling! We were also worried because Hub had been asked to pray before the meal began, and Rami’s husband, a Hindu, is dead against Christianity. 18 months ago he had forbidden her to attend church any more, and had stopped her Christian friends visiting her.
Rami’s husband flew off to India on Monday, and by Wednesday she was sitting beaming in church for our Ash Wednesday service – let off the leash, at long last! It was great to have her smiling warmth again, and afterwards she asked me to visit her, so I spent 2 hours with her today.
Wow, what a two hours. We talked and talked about the Lord, about how she feels He has been with her, and strengthened her, and encouraged her all the way through the ordeal of the last 18 months. She has prayed and prayed, and told me she had been very conscious of our prayers for her too, lifting her up and holding her steady.
We spoke about some deep things, and some difficult things, and the way everyone in her large and diverse family leans on her, and takes her for granted, and expects her to take up the slack and to do things that nobody else wants to do, and the tough choices she has to make. At the end we prayed together – such a rich time, with the sun streaming in, and a strong sense of God’s peaceful presence. During her prayer Rami said
‘Lord, please help us to treat everyone with kindness, respect and love, even those we find it difficult to like…’
…pause, chuckle …
‘… especially those we find difficult to like, Lord …’
(giggle from me this time).
After a farewell hug, I walked away down her street, and an odd thing happened. As I started along the road, I became conscious of a rustling noise following me. I looked round, and a dead brown leaf had been picked up by the wind, which overtook me and scuttered along the pavement just ahead of me. Then the wind would drop, and it would lie; but as I caught up with it, the wind collected it and it rattled and tripped along the pavement again, always keeping just ahead, almost as if it was waiting for me to catch up.
At one point it fell into the gutter under a car, and I thought ‘that’s the end of my leaf!’ – but blow me, as I reached the other end of the car the leaf whirled out from under, regained the pavement, pattered and jumped to the corner and then whisked around the corner shop. Finally, it disappeared.
It was almost as if the happy spirit of my friend was hopping and skipping like a child alongside me, out of sheer joy.
Maybe that’s fanciful … but God gives life to us all, and there are more things in heaven and earth …