Walking this morning I happened onto a new person -- actually he happened onto me. I sensed someone approaching me from the backside so I turned around to greet him. We exchanged walkers’ predictable pleasantries as we passed a few storefronts when I introduced myself:
“My name is Mark.”
“Hi, I’m Don.”
“Are you a native Nashvillian?
“No, originally from Texas.”
“Where in Texas, I’m from Texas.”
“Oh, I have a cousin who lives on the Arkansas side of Texarkana who is a Presbyterian pastor.”
“What’s your last name?”
“Oh, I know you. In fact, I’m in the choir you used to direct. Downtown at First Baptist Church? We’re new members of the church and you led rehearsal one night a few weeks ago. I just didn’t recognize you out here.”
From there we had a wonderful conversation for about three laps. We know many of the same Baptist pastors and ministers of music.
Yesterday, Betty was almost finished with her lap as I arrived so I did a U-turn and joined her for her last 50 yards or so. She was rolling along at a pretty good clip pushing her basket/cart with weights in the bottom. She looked great -- white-white pants, bright coral-colored top, a bit of eye-shadow and, of course, lipstick and earrings to match. Amazing for age 95 at 6:45 AM!
“Good morning, Betty! How are you?”
“Where have you been?” she lovingly barked back.
“I was here yesterday, had a doctor’s appointment Monday, and last week I was doing some manual labor at our office. We did some moving around so I got plenty of exercise doing that.”
“Are you doing okay?”
“I must be -- I’m still here!”
“Well, you look like the fresh breath of spring!”
“…or the last rose of summer,“ she quipped.
“Do you try to walk every day?”
“Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I ride the bike on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Oh that we all could be that active physically, mentally, and in spirit at 95! Thanks, Betty, for being a wonderful model and inspiration.
Bill (Gina’s dad) and I have run into one another more often recently and that’s always enjoyable. We seem to have a lot to talk about and we pick up where we left off last time. He’s helping with security again at Brentwood Baptist’s VBS next week and always looks forward to that -- a wonderful ministry for guys his and my age. I may give that a shot the first summer I’m retired.
Betty is active at Franklin’s Downtown Presbyterian Church, Carolyn is doing all manner of ministry through her Church of Christ, and Robert (the Boompa look-alike) goes to Revival Church near Nolensville.
I’ve been walking three mornings of most weeks in Cool Springs Mall for seven months and have met a lot of new and interesting people. I’ve told you about many of them. Looking forward to seeing any/all of them is part of what helps me maintain that early morning regimen. But I’ve noticed this -- people of Christian faith are easier for me to connect with those who don’t seem to be practicing theirs. Duh! I am able to carry on an interesting conversation with nearly any of them, but the flow seems more seamless among the faithful. Though not at all ashamed of my faith, I’ve never been a loud-mouth button-holing pusher of it. In these walking encounters it’s pretty easy to gently “test the waters” and see who continues the train of thought. When someone does pick it up, fellowship among near strangers is almost immediate. Very cool!
I doubt Nicolaus L. von Zinzendorf had ever walked a mall three hundred years ago when he wrote these words, but he, too, sensed the fellowship among believers:
Christian hearts in love united, seek alone in Jesus rest;
has He not your love excited? Then let love inspire each breast.
Members on the Head depending, lights reflecting Him, our Sun,
Christians, His commands attending, we in Him, our Lord, are one.
Come, then, come, O flock of Jesus, covenant with Him anew;
unto Him who conquered for us, pledge we love and service true;
and should our love’s union holy firmly like no more remain,
wait ye at His footstool lowly, till He draw it close again.
Grant, Lord, that with Thy direction, “Love each other,” we comply,
aiming with unfeigned affection Thy love to exemplify;
let our mutual love be glowing, so that all will plainly see
that we, as on one stem growing, living branches are in Thee.
O that such may be our union as Thine with the Father is,
and not one of our communion e’er forsake the path of bliss;
may our light shine forth with brightness, from Thy light reflected, shine;
thus the world will bear us witness, that we, Lord, are truly Thine.
Words – Nicolaus L. von Zinzendorf, 1725
Indeed, blest is the tie that binds Christian hearts in His love.