A door that leads to light and grace, But the keys are in the darkest place*
At the library the other day I ran into an old friend browsing through the mystery stacks.
Lavender** is old enough to be my grandmother, but once upon a time we were close. Our church had matched us up together in a small dinner group called "Tables of 8", and she and I hit it off, the way friends of wholly disparate ages sometimes do.
I was not lacking in grandmotherly attention, but I liked Lavender and I enjoyed her company. I also was a devotee of her baked goods, particularly an item she called "Chocolate Sin Pie."
About five years ago Lavender's husband passed away, and I hadn't seen her since.
I'll admit that we have not made it to church very often since we brought Lana home. (Lana, a child who loves to sleep, is never awake on Sundays in time to make the family service. It's a completely alien concept to me, to wake a sleeping child, and I'll admit that I love to sleep in on Sundays as well, and dawdle over coffee and the paper. But I do miss the comfort of our church services*** and I'm trying to find a solution.)
At any rate, I approached her and said, "Lavender? I haven't seen you in years!" and she blushed.
"I've been going to St. Tim's," she said.
I laughed at the idea that she thought I might be questioning her about her absence from the pews at St. Paul's when I have so rarely been found sitting in them myself.
"How are you?" she asked me. And for reasons I don't entirely understand, I told her that I was sad, that I was not dealing with "a situation of grieving" very well.
"Do you want to sit down?" she asked me.
We found two comfy chairs in a corner of the library, and we talked for almost an hour. About grief. About J~. About her late husband. About how important it is to let the tears out.
We talked about how, the spring that Gabe was a tiny, sleepless baby, I would find myself at our church's Lenten potluck dinners, exhausted and worn to pieces. Lavender would come and hold him, so that I could eat something and drink a cup of coffee and talk to grown-ups. We talked about how those hours meant so much to me, and how it was comforting for her, to hold a tiny happy baby for a while. Lavender called it "mutually beneficial baby wrangling".
As it happens, since her husband's death, Lavender has been volunteering as a hospice bereavement counselor.
After that hour spent talking with her, I felt...well, I felt exhausted, but I also felt a real sense of peace. A sense of peace I haven't found in all the time I've spent talking to my grief counselor.
Which is not to say that there's anything wrong with my grief counselor...I think it's probably a matter of there being a real value in having real, meaningful conversations with people who know your history, and who understand where you've come from, and who simply "get" you.
Or maybe it was just Lavender herself. Some people are just special that way.
* Pat Green, I'm Trying to Find It
The whole lyric I wanted to use (although it was too long for the title) was:
A door that leads to light and grace
But the keys are in the darkest place
Though it feels like I've been there before
Though I don't know what I'm looking for
And I'm trying to find it
** Not her actual name, although her actual name is equally unique
*** Let us not delve, at this moment, into the complexities that arise when one is the daughter of a clergy person from one denomination who has chosen to (albeit sporadically) attend services at the church of another denomination. Suffice it to say my clergy mother (mostly) understands our decision.