Edith and Me (On Going to Church)
Most Saturday evenings in the fall, winter, and spring, find some of my family and me, at a local bowling center. Truth is, that ritual has been a part of my life, my whole life. My father has been bowling in the league that meets there since it began in 1969. There are a lot of good stories that flood my memory the instant I walk in the same door, of the same building, that I was carried through as an infant. There used to be thick smoke hanging in the air. There used to be a child care service upstairs for families with children. While that is not the case now, it remains a gathering place for people who need an excuse to do life together. Bowling is as good as an excuse as any that I have heard.
Over the years, over the many, many years, I have grown to love the people I meet there to bowl three games and chat about the previous week. I have, at times, been amused with the silliness of people, and also with the seriousness with which they take the sport of bowling. I try to stay out of the occasional “gossip gang”. I try to understand the response when I ask someone about how they are doing. I try to convey my real joy in seeing someone again. And, I try to “let it go, when I let it go”. In all of these ways, bowling every week, and seeing friends that I have met, helps me stay sane after stressful weeks and helps me enjoy others in a way that I may not have, without bowling each week.
There have been many examples, of many friends, over the years, that have meant more to me than they may know. Last night, I got to bowl with Edith, and wondered how we even met. I wondered how long we had known each other. I wondered how much more I should know. It occurred to me that I enjoy this woman and her stories more than I enjoy most people and their stories. She does not come at me with the latest gossip. She listens to my response when she asks about my family or me. She shows her joy when she sees me. And I believe, she does not think one thing about the last ball she threw unless it is to learn how to improve the next roll.
What in the world was going on? Did she steal my idea? Was she doing what I was trying to do, also? And then it made sense. These ideas of conveying joy, of caring for others while at the bowling center, of smiling when you see a person, were not my own. Most likely, I had learned them from Edith and those I had observed and interacted with through the years. She was, and is, my teacher, not of bowling, but of life. Without my knowing I was in class, Edith taught me to care for others and to be happy (and also to do better when buying Valentine’s Day gifts for my wife).
And who was her teacher? Only Edith would be able to say. My suspicion, is that Edith has seen good times and tougher times. That’s sort of how things work in life. My guess is that she has learned through a lifetime of doing great things, because she has become a great example to me. I do not know many things about her past, and she does not know many things about mine, but for years, we have smiled with one another, shared stories and concerns with one another, and I suspect, we have both even prayed for one another. All of this, on some Saturday evenings, under the guise of a bowling league, we have cared for each other.
What I do know about Edith can be summed up in a few words. She is kind to me. She is most likely smarter, in many ways, than me. Whether I see her on a Saturday, or another day of the week, she makes me feel like our interaction did something to brighten her day. It always brightens my day. I also know she loves Jesus, but that is between Jesus and her. She is not perfect, but this fact is covered in grace, by the fact that she does not demand perfection from me. What I know more than any of these, is simply, Edith is my friend, and finding true friends in this life, is harder than you might think.
Before I left last night, I asked Edith for permission to use her photo. I asked if it would be suitable to her, for me to write this blog about her. I told her it would be done by 6 am, because I wake up early. She asked, “So you can go to church?”.
I responded, “Not especially”.
After thinking about it, I should have said, “I just did”.