Saturday, August 13, 2011

Simple grace

I just looked at the date and realized yesterday was the birthday of one of my oldest friends.  I may have mentioned this before, but I have a quirky ability to remember birthdays.  That isn't to say I do anything about them--not anything important, that is--but I remember them.  This particular friend is a woman I went to high school and even middle school with.  We were in Sunday School together, though both of us were often there not out of some deep interest in spiritual things but because our parents were dedicated Methodists.  Her parents still are, still shore up the walls of the barn-like structure, just up the street from downtown, where we spent every Sunday of our childhood.  CD and I got to know each other first during those Sunday school days, when her family moved to town in about our fifth grade year, I think.  Her dad, like most of the dads of my closest friends, was a professor at the University.  By odd co-incidence, he was the tennis coach and taught in the PE department, where Beve's dad was the department chair.  Small world, you might be thinking, and you'd be right.  But that doesn't begin to cover it.  Really.

CD and I became closer friends when we started high school, began going to Young Life, and somehow, our circle of girlfriends became set.  She's part of the eight women I still see on an annual basis (if I'm not dealing with a dying parent or sick or something), the ones who will forever be known to me and many around us as "the girls."  Though it might seem pejorative to call women of our ages by such a moniker, nothing else will do for us, because that's who we've always been.  A community.  The girls.

But this year, I thought I'd talk about each of them separately, on or near their birthdays.  So CD.  She was always an athlete.  Perhaps the most athletic among us, though a couple others were close.  She has a simple grace in her athletic abilities that make her tennis game smooth and strong. She's an artist, who likes to get her hands dirty in clay, paints when she has time and creates lovely graceful Christmas cards that are instantly recognizable. Like two others of the girls, she's an elementary school teacher, and I can imagine her handling her classroom with the same bold but smooth strokes she uses on the tennis court, with the same simple grace she brings to her art.  But then, perhaps that is a good way to describe her in general--a simple grace.  She laughs easily and often, is quick to listen and very, very slow to anger.  Of all the girls, she is least likely to have a bad word to say about someone, is the most calm and moderate in temperament.  It's like being in a serene pool of water to be around her, come to think of it, very like the calm serene lake where we once floated for an afternoon after a weekend with 'the girls', debriefing or not, just floating.  Being with her is like that, floating simply in her cool, lovely presence.  I've always felt better about the world because there is someone so peaceful and calm in it.

Several years ago, it was discovered that she has a rather serious chronic medical condition which might have hampered another person's life, made them resentful of the stringent daily dietary and medical requirements.  And though it took her some time to learn how to live, she just does.  And that's that.  The end.  No big deal, no problem, just get with the program and live with it.  A simple grace even in adversity.  That's who CDH is to me.

I am better for knowing her.  I always have been.  Thankful for her presence in my life, but also simply thankful for her presence in the world. Yep, she is a treasure.  I thank God that she was created 54 years ago.  Happy Birthday, CDH. Have a wonderful day.

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