A Candle for Barb
One of my dearest friends has passed from this earthly life into eternity. And even though she’d lived long, was into her ninth decade, her death was abrupt, unexpected. Neither I…nor her beloved husband…her four precious daughters…her treasured family…her countless, and I do mean countless, devoted friends, spanning the globe…
None of us were ready for this.
So quickly Barb left us. And yet, I can’t seem to shake the thought, she hasn’t really left.
I don’t think it’s denial. No. It’s something else. Yesterday…imagining her face. Recalling her voice. Thinking about our last lunch together, exactly three weeks past. The treasure of memories. Suddenly I understand what Jesus was saying, when he said we’d never die.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26
Yes! I do believe! With all my heart I am certain. Our dear Barb is very much alive!!
She couldn’t die.
My heart aches knowing I’ll never again receive her text. She will never again leave an encouraging comment after reading my blog post. No more face-to-face visits over our shared favorite coffee—a Starbucks Flat White. Later today I’ll order the last book she recommended, knowing this will be the last…
Oh God, I’ll miss her. Thank you for sharing her with me.
And yet, I do know this. In all the ways that will ever matter. My friend is very much alive.
Maybe I’ll tell this story tomorrow night. My first night in my new job teaching youth at my church. The topic, chosen for me, is “Listening to God.” Yes…I believe I’ll tell this very story. About my friend Barb and how her words to me were (without a doubt) the very words of God. My very first “Boy Mom” post…you can find it here…Not peace the way we think of peace, but the peace of shalom. Two boys, needing a family. Now my sons. My precious sons. Few times in life we hear so clearly, the words of God. But that one time when He needed to be sure and certain I would hear Him and understand…He chose my friend Barb to deliver the message. “Sonya, Shalom.”
She spoke those two words at the start of Advent, and I will never again light my wreath of candles without thinking of Barb. Oh my. And what about her precious family? Will it be loss for them, or joy of legacy, priceless tradition? Every Advent Sunday for so many years she invited her family to join her table, to share her candles, enjoying the fellowship of her simple feast. How many of us will light our candles this year, united in our love of Jesus, remembering together the love of Barb?
My “Red Oak Retreat” was inspired by my friend who dreamed a ministry of retreat into actual existence. Years ago, she was a missionary, home for a season with her husband Wes. Just a few miles from our current home, they’d carved out a shalom space for those who needed a bit of peace. How many stories are out there, in this whole wide world, about lives who were touched by Wes and Barb?
Last weekend, before I knew she was gone, I’d held in my hand a tiny silver spoon with its German inscription. A treasure from my friend’s collection. I remember when she gave it to me, she’d said it was a favorite…and she’d wanted to share it with a favorite friend.
So very alive. A trail of goodness that spans the globe. Scattering of breadcrumbs. A wafting fragrance. A permanent jet stream of love and good deeds.
In my Acknowledgements for The Covenant Story I thank my “faith role model,” Barb Peters. She was the last to read my manuscript before its publication. And now I continue telling this eternal story, knowing how true it is.
Though we die, oh yes, we do live!