My Friend Nancy
When I first came to Calvary Baptist Church in Urbana IL, and sat in the wooden pew, in the second row, and looked up at the large wooden cross in the center, and sang the old hymns, and listed to Pastor Gritton preach, I had this peaceful feeling of being at home. My brother had this funny phrase “Are you grinnin’ with Gritton?”
And I remember that first Sunday when I met Nancy Miller, an older lady, a “farmer’s wife” as she called herself, and she gave me a hug, which I desperately needed at that moment. And after that, we would sit together every service, and many times she would hold my hand during the service and would always hug me. She and her husband would take me out to eat every Sunday as well. We had several adventures, Nancy and I… exploring the Amish country… visiting an Amish church, making friends with an Amish lady also named Catherine… and later visiting Catherine’s home and riding in her buggy.
Nany and I had hardly anything in common. She was in her 60s or 70s, had about a sixth grade education, and grew up near the Amish farm country of Arthur, Illinois. She had three husbands in her life time. And here I was, a suburban, single ,20-something- year- old, veterinary student. But I learned so much from her… mostly about love and friendship. She was a living picture of God’s love to me… which I didn’t deserve from her or from God… her love for me was simple… she loved me simply because I needed to be loved. She didn’t care about my education or knowledge or abilities… it didn’t mean anything to her. She didn’t seem to notice when I was tired, and callous, or irritable, or a poor listener… or when my attempts to love and relate to her were clumsy and awkward. She loved me regardless of what I did or didn’t do, it was always the same.
It’s just about the biggest regret of my life so far that I’ve lost touch with her. It is a dream of mine, to hold her hand again in this life time. I *know* I will in the next.
(I wrote this in 2010… and I still haven’t seen Nancy, and still hope to… My life has kind of been on 80 miles an hour it feels like for many years!)