I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.
I Corinthians 1:4
 
Let Us Pray
 
Seeing a childhood friend last week was a pleasure. Susan and I lived next door to each other when I was five. We moved around a lot when I was a child, but Susan and I remained friends all the way through our teen years. She taught me how to build a better playhouse, to ride a bike, and how to stay up all night and eat plums picked from our neighbor's yard. She taught me how to be serious at pet funerals and also how to laugh out loud and be totally silly even when I was dying inside. Susan moved away to Georgia and we lost touch until facebook came along and reconnected us.

Neither Susan, nor I had a perfect childhood. Both of our fathers were alcoholics which left both of our mothers neurotic. Chaos abounded. There was no peace in either home, so we stayed outside a lot. I had cats of all kinds which I creatively named Whitey, Blackey, Grayie, Whitey Jr, Blackey Jr, Grayie Jr..... etc. I also had a dog named Red. Susan had a greater variety of pets...rabbits, birds, goldfish etc. along with a Siamese cat named Thomasena. I don't remember the other pet's names, but if they were no more creative than my pet's names, that is probably why I don't remember.

One thing I do remember very well is the funeral services for the pets that died. To this day in East Tupelo there is surely an unofficial, but full pet cemetery in the back yard of one of those old houses.
A real funeral service was something I had never attended when I was five. As a matter of fact I did not go to any kind of a church service until I was eight years old. I was unfamiliar with prayer protocol... you know, bowing your head, closing your eyes, and being quite while prayers were being led. Susan, however had been to church on occasion and it had made a great impact on her it seems; for she knew not only prayer protocol, but actually knew how to pray, even for dead pets.

Before the pet funerals I was required to put on "Sunday clothes" which I didn't really have any of. Clean school clothes had to work for me. We would meet in the evening in the backyard of Susan's house by an old shed beside the oak tree The "grave" had been dug that morning. Susan would gently place the bird, goldfish etc. in the ground wrapped in one of her mother's silk scarves. The dirt would be shoveled on silently with big spoons from the kitchen. Susan would then hold her Bible tightly in front of her and say, "Let us pray" in a most reverent kind of voice. At that point is when I usually always laughed.

Hey, I was five and didn't get it. Susan, who was two years older, did get it. She went on from funeral services to actual "play church" services. I think in her own way she was trying to introduce me to the Jesus she had heard about when she had gone to a real church at some point in her life.

Last Friday when Susan visited we went in the sanctuary of the "real church" where I work. We sat on the front row and talked about old times and of now times. Before she left Susan and I prayed together in the real church, to the same real living God whom we prayed to as children, who hears our prayers and answers!

To pray with someone who I once prayed with almost fifty years ago was an amazing kind of feeling. Yes, we bowed our heads and closed our eyes. And guess what we cried while we prayed and even laughed out loud! I really don't think God minded.God sent Susan to be my little guardian angel way back then and me to be hers. We were there for each other when we needed each other most.

We thanked God for that Friday. I think after fifty years it was time that we did that.
Who did God put in your life that you haven't thanked Him for?
When was the last time you laughed out loud?

No, our childhoods weren't perfect, but we serve a perfect God who watched over us and
brought us through it all and allowed us to become who we are today.
And who is that?
I am an imperfect grateful survivor who serves a Great God.

jbp