Remembering Helen – Five Minute Friday

I’m not at all sure how this will come out, as the prompt this week brought to mind something that happened to me a couple of times lately — a memory was stirred. And having that happen twice in a week, well. . . it makes me think this is something I’m supposed to get down. So, I’ll try to do it in 5 minutes and link it up with Lisa-Jo and the gang this week:
Five Minute Friday

The view from that hill . . . a little closer to the sea.



The road winds up the hill, the hill that opens up to the sea. And every time I drive up that road, I remember Helen. She was such a small thing, dark-haired, pixie-eyed, full of sweetness and light. Byron asked me to go and see her. She was a friend of a friend and she was in Santa Barbara to receive a new treatment in her battle against lung cancer.

I was brand new to my job as Associate Pastor and I was pretty new to visitation, especially when the person was unknown to me and critically ill. But I went – how could I not? She was delightful – vibrant, open, seeking, devoted to her family and to her Lord. She wanted someone to talk to, to pray with, to help her face into the realities that were coming at her faster than a freight train.

Oh, how I loved her!

I met with her about a dozen times over the next few months. She would travel back and forth to her home in Arizona in between treatments, staying with friends when she was here. Eventually, she stayed for longer and longer periods of time and the family rented a house up on the bluff, a house with a distant view of the deep blue sea.

Each visit, she seemed smaller, shrinking into herself in some ways, but pouring herself out in others. Her eyes always sparkled, her smile never wavered. Oh, her voice got weaker and finally, she couldn’t walk very far at all, choosing to stay in bed or in a chair nearby. But her spirit? Indomitable.

She died quietly, here in Santa Barbara, and the family asked me to create a memorial service for her in our small chapel so that all those in this town who loved her could come and remember and worship together. 

That chapel was full, I’ll tell you. She was small, yes, she was. But her heart was huge and her sweet smiles and soft words reached out to dozens of friends. 

That was almost seventeen years ago. And every time I drive up that hill, I glance to my left, to the street that sloped up and around the bend. And I remember the gift of Helen, the first of many friends I walked with to the end of the road.


2 extra minutes

Five Minute Friday: RISK

Five Minute Friday
It’s been a few weeks – and I’ve missed it. Every Friday, Lisa-Jo Baker invites us to stop, drop and write for 5 minutes of unedited thinking on the prompt for the week. It’s a fun community, with lots of participants and lots of takes on each week’s subject. Hop on over and check it out. And then – try it, you’ll like it!
This week’s topic?  RISK
I asked my mother about love one day. 
“What’s it like, Mom? Is it hard to say, ‘I love you?'”
“Honey,” she said to me. “It’s the scariest three word sentence in the English language.” 
“Why?” I asked, all wide-eyed innocence at age 17, new to the ways of dating and romance.
“Because, sweet girl,” she replied, looking at me with soft eyes, “love is a risk.”
“What?” I exclaimed. “Why is love risky?” 
“When you say ‘I love you’ to another person, you’re giving them a part of your heart. And you can’t know what they’re going to do with your precious self. When you say ‘I love you,’ you risk having your heart broken.”
“Oh,” I sighed. “But tell me, do you think it’s worth the risk?”
“Oh.My.Yes. It is worth the risk.” 
She turned me to face her, touching each shoulder and looking me right in the eyes. 
“To love another human person is just about the biggest risk there is, honey. But – and this is so hard for me to say because I love you so much and I never want you to be hurt – but . . . to live your life without love is far worse than a broken heart. It is better to explore the feelings, to say them out loud and to bear the pain of rejection than to never allow yourself to love. Do you believe me about this?”
With a very deep sigh, and a bit of a shudder, too, I answered, “Yeah, Mom. I do believe you. But I feel sorta shaky inside. And really scared.”
“It’s okay to be scared. It’s not okay to never risk being hurt.”
I have NO CLUE why this one came pouring out today. This was a conversation that happened 50 years ago. FIFTY.