Loving outreaches that make all the difference

Recently I was in a garden shop. It was mid-morning, and there were few folks other than store staff. I was focusing on ceramic pots, when a woman stood next to me, smiled, and shyly asked, “Could you tell me what your secret is?” I smiled back and said, “Secret?”

She then said, “Well, you seem so joyful, and that’s very rare nowadays.”

“It’s not just positive thinking,” I said, to which she replied, “Oh, I know.”

What ensued was almost one hour of Q. & A. and loving exchanges. She said she had been brought up as a Catholic, but had stopped attending services long ago. At her request, I gave her my name and phone number and also wrote down some of my favorite psalms (Ps. 23, 91, 121, and 139:1–4, 7–11, 17, 18). I also mentioned our church’s reading room. She said she had noticed it, but never gone in. So I gave her a personal invitation, mentioning that I could give her another “immersion course” if she came in on my day.

Then I added that I hoped I had not said too much, that I hoped it was not too radical for her. To this she responded (and this did bring tears to my eyes), “Oh no, what you’ve been sharing, it’s like coming home for me.”

I’d also like to relate what happened at the rehearsal dinner for the wedding of our younger daughter. One of her bridesmaids—a friend from college—surprised our family by giving a brief talk expressing gratitude for “the homemade chicken soup and wonderful loving encouragement that the bride’s mom gave to my father a few years ago, when he was very ill with an inoperable brain tumor.”

The bridesmaid’s father had been diagnosed with that condition back in 2004–2005. When I visited their home, he had become discouraged, had lost a great deal of weight, and was seemingly in a weakened state. I kept my focus on his true state of being, throughout that visit and beyond.

The bridesmaid continued, saying, “Thanks to her mom, my father is with us today, healthy and functioning well.”

After dinner, my husband and I made our way to the table where this girl was seated. I hugged her, and she said to me, “You cured my father with your love and prayers.”

I replied with something like, “It was ALL the loving outreaches.”

She smiled and said, “Yes, but yours made the difference.”