I had no trouble finding the footpath. It was overgrown with weeds but still discernible. The old house where I used to live was still there too. For the first time in over forty years, I stepped onto the path that led to my best friend, Sue’s house. We had met when we were two-years old. I remembered that first day, her indignation when I “twirled” on her recently buried parakeet’s grave. That day her big brother decapitated my doll and my grandmother who ran a doll hospital (yes really) had her turn to be indignant.
When we were about 12, we met again as neighbors on a rural road. Only God could have made that happen. I don’t believe in coincidence. We forged the footpath then from my house to hers. I closed my eyes and saw her long brown hair flying in the wind as she ran to meet me halfway so I would not have to walk alone in the dark.
I opened my eyes and continued down the footpath inviting the past to accompany me. My memories were of boys and bikes, horses and ’57 Chevy’s, whispered secrets and two young girls blissfully giggling for no apparent reason. As I trailed around the old fence, and wound my way across an empty field, I recalled the Sundown Drive-In Theater where we both worked when we were teenagers. I often wish that old drive-in was still there and not forgotten. The memories are still alive though and always will be for me.
The path ended abruptly at Sue’s front porch. But, Sue didn’t live there anymore. Like me, she had grown up, been married and moved away. I stood looking at the house remembering the love, warmth and welcome I had received there when I could not find it in my own home. When one of us called, the other one answered without fail. Then, turning my back on the past I slowly retraced my steps to my car. As I walked, it occurred to me that though distance sometimes separates us, in our hearts Sue and I still never let one another walk alone in the dark. My friend is very ill now and has lost many of her memories. At times, it feels like I’m walking alone but I only have to remember that Jesus is always with me and will make sure that even though I may be alone, I’m never in the dark.
Jesus is the light of the world. He lights our paths in many ways…many times through a parent, a spouse, a minister or even a stranger, sometimes by giving us the gift of an extraordinary friendship. One day, Sue and I will no longer be apart and there will be no dark footpaths. She will remember everything and we will walk together on streets of finest gold enlightened by The Glory of God.
“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13)