Walking Our Faith: With friends near and far

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

Even after seven years of writing this column, I still don’t know what will resonate most with you, my readers. Sometimes I will write a column and expect to receive a lot of email and then receive none at all.

And then there are columns like the one I wrote last week, which I didn’t expect anyone other than myself to really enjoy because quite frankly I felt like I was writing about the my fears of an unknown future after I turned 60 this March, while comparing myself to two friends in their 70s who were still enjoying remarkably creative careers.

But then, I received a phone call from my dear friend Adrienne, who might be over the age of 80, whose hands bear the impact of arthritis, and yet who still plays the organ before Mass at St. Mary’s with such beauty and eloquence.

Adrienne called to tell me that she enjoyed my article, but she also called to tell me that neither she nor other women she knew her age had any interest in giving up their very full and productive lives serving God through their music ministries, like her friend Maggie who also plays at St. Mary’s despite chronic back pain.

To be honest I think Adrienne might have just been suggesting to me in a very loving way of course, that I stiffen my spine and look to God for inspiration instead of feeling sorry for myself. She’s right of course.

A couple days later, I received a lengthy email from Phil, a reader in Tennessee. I always enjoy receiving emails from readers but this email made me feel especially grateful because Phil took a great deal of time to encourage me through his own example of the way he has used his prior corporate management experience to contribute in very tangible ways to four charities that have also provided his life with new meaning.

And then on Wednesday afternoon during our online knitting group, my friend Laura mentioned my column and that she had wanted to send me a note of understanding because she similarly had lost her mother and simultaneously felt a desire to move and to begin again, and figure out what that meant.

Last week, I promised that this week’s column would discuss how our later years of life can lead us into a deeper relationship in our walk of faith. But I’m going to push that off for another week. Because in the phone calls and email and online conversation I hear you telling me what I was going to write about because you’re already living it in your own lives. Adrienne, Phil and Laura, you are each living that closer walk with God that I aspire to. And you’ve shown me that this walk is as individual as we are, and all we are asked is to use our individual talents to their fullest.

This brings to mind another friend, Kathy, who each summer turns her Peak 7 yard into a carpet of flowers and then invites anyone to come and enjoy. She sees her love of gardening as a gift to share her love of God with others.

Now I am thinking of two friends who I only know from Facebook, whose religious affiliations are unknown to me. Ellen, who shares hundreds of pictures of Summit County wildflowers from her biking adventures in the mountains, and Emily who has been in and out of a hospital and rehab center in New York as she battles a long illness. I am moved by her courage and fortitude and grace.

I want to tell you how much it means to me when you reach out and take the time to share of your perspective and encouragement. As much as I write about my walk of faith each week, you have shown me how you are walking your faith in the world, and it inspires me.

And I am grateful. Because it feels as if we are kindred spirits and that I am not writing into a void but instead having a conversation with friends, even friends I have never met or may never meet. It has been my experience that some of the closest friendships I have formed in the past seven years that I have lived in Breckenridge have come about in this way, simply by being with others on their walk of faith, whatever that looks like, and deciding to share some of that time together as we walk together in the world.

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