Write In Between

Monday, August 06, 2007

The First of our Circle

Once upon a time, I prayed the rosary with a great group of women on a weekly basis. What started as a simple experiment among four friends, grew into a wider circle to include other women from our parish. They were the growing-up-years with our small children, and some of the most enjoyable and rewarding years of my life.

Susan was part of that original circle of faith and fellowship. She was a faithful member of the group for many years. She was devoted to her family and to the Word of God. And she always carried a pocket-sized New Testament in her purse. I remember it had a green leather cover. And its pages were well-worn. She was a reading teacher by trade. But she taught me more about reading the Bible by her example than by any discourse.

A bit older than I was, Susan always reverently referred to us—the group collectively--as "the women.” At the time it made me feel older than my years. Indeed I was a grown woman, but those young kids I had made me feel like a girl. But Susan’s remarks about “the women” would remind me of the dignity of our state in life. I appreciated the serious earnest with which she approach sharing her faith with me.

Thirteen years ago, while my children were still small, the Lord saw fit to move my family away from that little parish in a beach community in New York to the hills and valleys of New England. And while I have met new women and forged new friendships in new circles, those holy women from New York remain in my heart every time I pick up my rosary to pray.

I just learned this past week that Susan was gravely ill and died. She is the first of our circle from those years to go on to glory.

It came as a shock and I immediately remembered the last time I saw her. It was a number of months ago, during a visit to my old church in New York. She was the lector (of course!) and we had a delightful chat catching up in the parking lot after Sunday Mass.

It wasn’t until today that the phrase “the women” jumped off the page for me as I read from First Timothy, 3:11: The women likewise must be serious, no slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things.

Indeed, I had found a verse that, for me, described the Susan I knew and admired. Serious. No tolerance for gossip. Temperate. And yes, faithful.

Susan, thanks for being a faithful woman. You helped keep us faithful. Your race to Jesus is over. For the rest of us, well, we have a few more laps to go… around the rosary, at least. And when we pray, we know we’ll find you there in between the mysteries… standing with Jesus, the Word, and right alongside Mary, The Woman.

Copyright 2007 Patricia W. Gohn

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