Later, with a kitchen chair under my arm, I followed the rest of the ladies to the cozy fire-lit family room. A soft verse of "Jesus Is Lord" seemed to soothe away the stresses and worries of the day as we settled in. Our speaker for the evening had prepared a lesson centered on the importance of Christian relationships among women.
After her heartfelt lesson, she stood up and began to hand out pieces of paper, face down, to a few of us women. With a puzzled look, we took them, and one by one, we turned them over to read to the other ladies as she asked us to do. The first letter was from a lady in our congregation who had suffered the loss of a child. She wrote about her experience and the sadness that often fills her heart. At the end, however, her letter was about inspiration and about the love she feels from her Christian sisters. That love, along with the knowledge that she'll someday be reunited with her son, comforts her.
Another lady in our circle had written a letter about the loss of her husband a few years back. She talked about the support and sustenance that her sisters gave her. There was a letter from my Mother thanking her dear friend for lovingly lifting her spirits when she went through a frightening medical scare last year. Yet another lady told of how the love and support of her church family helped her place things into a whole new perspective while she was struggling with difficulties inside her family. We listened intently to emotional outpourings of gratitude and thankfulness these women felt because of their church family, and more importantly, their Christian sisters. For a moment, the emotion of each experience was almost as real as it was when it first happened. A few sniffles could be heard underneath the reading of each letter.
As we circled the room, we came upon the last letter of the evening. The tear that I'd been trying to stifle rolled down my cheek when I saw who had written the letter; it was our host for the ladies fellowship. In her home throughout the evening, I had seen walls filled with pictures and other remembrances of her husband, whom she recently lost. I knew this letter was going to get me.
She began by recounting all the times that people brought by food, sent warm wishes, made phone calls, and came by just to visit. Just as everyone's eyes filled up with tears, the person reading the letter stopped and said ... "And then there was the time, last summer, when I fell off the chair, while hanging wallpaper, and broke my arm. People helped me around the house and brought many hot meals over. And for that I just want to say thanks to all of the women ... well ... except for one ... the one who pushed me out of the chair!"
The expression on her best friend's face, who was there hanging wallpaper with her, was priceless. In the midst of tears, our group of ladies broke out in much-needed laughter. I couldn't help but think about how that so often describes our experiences in life. Just when we feel that we're reaching our emotional limit with the sorrows in life, God rescues us with a bit of good ol' laughter ... and so often through our sisters.
"Sweet is the voice of a sister in the season of sorrow." (Benjamin Disraeli)
And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth insisted on staying with Naomi. "See," Naomi said to her, "your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same."
But Ruth replied, "Don't ask me to leave you and turn back. I will go wherever you go and live wherever you live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. I will die where you die and will be buried there. May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!" So when Naomi saw that Ruth had made up her mind to go with her, she stopped urging her.
So the two of them continued on their journey. (Ruth 1:14-19)