Lessons from Nana…Sojourn

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I tidied up while Bruce assisted Nana with her cell phone at Nana’s apartment the other day. She’s not only battling angiosarcoma but Alzheimer’s as well, and some days working the phone can be a challenge.

He played her voicemails on speaker while Nana sat quietly in her bedroom holding the phone in her hand as she stared into the distance listening to friends’ messages.

One of the messages captured my heart and spirit. I stopped what I was doing and just listened. Nana’s friend left a warm and loving message. She told Nana how much she and her friends miss her in NY and that she’s never far from thought or prayer. But then…

Then her friend did THE sweetest thing.

She said, “I know this is just a message, but I want to leave you with this.” She began to sing Amazing Grace. Nana’s friend sang Amazing Grace in the voicemail. A huge lump welled up in my throat. It felt like her friend was right here in the apartment, sitting with Nana, encouraging her spirit through song.

What happened next caused me to sit down in full attention to the moment.

Nana started to sing along to the message.

These two ladies, who have seen so much throughout their many decades, who have been married, had children, buried loved ones, lived through wars and presidents and social change, sat together virtually and sang Amazing Grace.

There are no words. It was one of the most precious moments in our entire Christmas season. Nana didn’t realize, or if she did she didn’t care, that Bruce and I could hear. She simply sat on the side of her bed and sang a favorite hymn with her dear friend.

I know there will come a day when Nana will join the choirs of heaven, leaving only the echo of her voice behind. Her friend knows it, too. And that is what is so tender. Her friend is helping Nana finish her race.

In that last mile, when runners are exhausted, their legs cramp, and with dry mouths they push through the fiery burn in their lungs and know its now or never to commit to finishing the race. It’s also known that most runners quit in the last leg with the finish line nearly in sight.

Nana’s friend knows this, and in the most beautiful way, she showed up to run with her. Through her words and song, she reminded Nana of who she is and whose she is.
She encouraged Nana to keep running when the body desperately wants to quit, and with Amazing Grace she strengthened Nana’s spirit so it will direct her body to keep running.

I’ve told my kids their whole lives that if they have just a couple of friends, those who are there for the long haul, those they wholeheartedly trust and can lean on no matter what, then they are rich beyond measure. It’s better to have a few close forever friends than many fair-weathered friends.

Nana has this relationship with her friend. A woman who fought the awkwardness of calling; overcame the discomfort of not knowing what to say; and mustered the courage to sing in a voicemail and to be there for a friend she dearly loves.

Nana’s friend touched all of us that day. Her call challenged me to be that kind of friend. It challenged me to let others be that kind of friend to me despite my insecurities.

Friends sojourn. They cheer, challenge and choose to show up no matter what. “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17).

I will never forget the example Nana’s friend set, unaware that anyone besides Nana would ever hear her message. Truly, God’s amazing grace is with Nana and is meeting her needs right where she is, right when she needs it.

Whose journey can we encourage today? Which friend needs a glass of water through kind words, a hug through prayer, or companionship to simply feel loved and remembered?
Let’s lace up our running shoes and get sojourning. There are races we are called to help run.

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