Missing and Remembering Friends

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” (Philippians 1:3)

This beautiful stained glass candle holder was a gift to me last Christmas from Dave and Jane Westerfield, dear WCC friends who made the move to Michigan a few years ago now. I miss them so, and they come to mind almost everyday when I light the candle inside and the warm glow appears. It’s a powerful thing, this remembering, because it leads me to gratitude for those I’ve been blessed to spend a season of life with. yesterday after lighting the candle I decided to find some old church directories and look at the faces of so many who once were part of my daily life and no longer are. Many have moved; some have transitioned to other faith communities; others I have lost track of. I spent about an hour remembering moments together — conversations, mission trip experiences, small group sharings, times of praying together, and sharing communion, and watching children grow. The power in this is not just in remembering, but in how this remembering leads me to a time of thanksgiving, of telling God I’m grateful for so many who have filled my life’s journey with friendship and joy. That must have been what Paul had in mind in so many of his letters, when he remembers his days spent in different church communities and thanks God.

The gift the Westerfield sent my way also helps me reflect on the wonderful way that the church connects us, and gives us a close gathered community of support, friendship, worship and work that never completely fades away. So many remark how Winnetka Covenant Church remains one of their “home places” even though life’s journey has moved them on somewhere else. So I’m learning that when I have the chance to remember and miss friends, I find myself grateful for the memories and experiences we once shared, as I wonder when we’ll see each other again.

And there is something practical I can do to find this gratitude. I can put things in my way — in my daily eyesight — that connect me to so many of you who I have loved.

Time moves us on, and that’s as it should be. But I’m thinking back over my last twenty-one years here, and looking at the names and faces of many of you who I no longer see, but remember with gratitude and joy. rule I do thank my God when I remember you.

Thanks for getting that party started, Westerfields!

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