Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Morning Prayers--Facebook friend
What she announced yesterday was that her divorce was going through now--and that those who knew her understood that the action she was taking was a long time in coming and bittersweet.
I am somehow her Facebook friend, but I didn't know this was coming, nor did I even know her ex. Via Facebook, I knew she was married, but knew nothing at all of her life with the man who is no longer her husband.
She was, years ago, a memorable student, not a shining star, but a kid who very much liked what she was doing when she was tuned in, which wasn't all the time. Once, in my office, she told me that I ought to try the new "with-it" church in town, where she attended--lots of singing and strumming and drums and crooning, lots of clapping and joy. But then, she said, that some Sundays went to the old fuddy-duddy church just to settle her nerves.
Some things you never forget.
More than that I didn't know or don't. Yesterday, I went to her Timeline and started thumbing through a legion of photographs, and at least some of the story is there--hundreds of kids photos, including some where, memorably, her husband is right there beside her on the bed where she's just given birth to the newborn in her arms. Sweet, treasured pictures of another time altogether.
A story emerges reluctantly in those photos, but, given yesterday's announcement, that story is traceable in the disappearance of her husband from the scrapbook. His presence fades. When he's there, he looks tougher, harder.
What happened to end things, I don't know. She has a penchant, as some Facebook-ers do, for headlining proverbs and quotes, little snippets of truth--often biblical, but just as often not--some friend found fulfilling or meaningful or comforting. There are lots of those on her Timeline, suggesting her anguished soul was searching for a few soft words, for love and understanding.
In the catalog of photos, there's some noticeable weight issues, which suggests stress, in abundance. But most of the thumbnails are just kids, her refuge and strength and mission, I imagine.
In a shopping mall in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, almost forty years ago, I saw a man, a deacon on our church, talking on a pay phone with so much animation that it was clear a) he was in love, and b) not with his wife. Not long after, he left her.
A month ago, I walked into the church I'd attended back then and took a seat in a pew way in the back. A few people recognized me and turned to greet me, as did the woman beside me finally, who asked me if I knew who she was. She was the one left behind by the deacon. It's the story of her life I remember best.
She'd remarried long ago, had children too, in addition to the ones she'd had with the man on the phone. She'd had a life.
A couple of generations had come and gone since I saw that tall young deacon talking on the pay phone; the woman he'd left behind had become, as I have, much older. She'd lost two husbands in her life--one to adultery, another to death.
I didn't talk to her after church, but if I had, I don't doubt for a moment she would have opened her purse and taken out the pictures she undoubtedly carries of her grandchildren. She would have been proud, I'm sure.
This morning I'll pray for my former student and Facebook friend whose divorce is now final, but I'll give thanks that, by grace alone, we manage. We make it. We do our best and make our way through the shadows, sometimes in happy churches and sometimes in those where silence reigns.
In sorrow and in pain, in sickness and in health, in joy and in sadness, sustained by grace, we live.