There is strength in numbers even when it’s only two working together.
The general purpose of small group work is to dive deeper into a particular course of study. Groups usually assign themselves homework in the form of tasks or disciplines. We hold one another accountable for behavior that aids spiritual development. It rarely fails when we choose to work on patience, for example, all the traffic lights get stuck on red, and the grocery store cash registers malfunction.
The day we vow to begin our day with meditation no matter what, the next morning the power fails, we have no alarm clock, and we leave our phone in the car overnight.
We have been known to get a chuckle out of how willingly the universe cooperates with our efforts to meet ourselves so we can transform our minds. No, wait. It is transforming self by renewing the mind. I always get those two mixed up. It’s a good thing the Holy Spirit is always ready to help.
Last year a friend and I decided we needed to work on meeting new people. Our study group had disbanded temporarily. Nothing major, we just were not happy with the way our noses were beginning to tilt upward at the ends into permanent snubs. Not that we would deliberately shun anybody, but we were in danger of terminal smugness.
Recalling how even machines conspire to teach what we need to learn, I was sure that the person I most needed to meet would be ringing my doorbell momentarily. I pictured opening wide the door to welcome the opportunity to entertain angels unawares.
I told you we were getting smug.
Days passed. Nothing happened. I called my friend. “Met anyone new?”
“Nope. Same old saints. How about you?”
“I think I wait in vain.”
I would realize later that in addition to trying to set up our own lesson plan, we were also dictating the time frame.
One day I noticed the For Sale sign had been removed from the house next door, but by then so much time had passed I didn’t connect it with the “new people” adventure. My friend and I were not talking about it anymore, and we had settled back into our respective ruts.
Finally, when the doorbell rang, I felt annoyed at being interrupted during my favorite past time – pool dallying. I threw on a terry robe, but still dripped chlorine on the carpet trekking to the front door.
If Emily had been a red-horned devil, I could not have been more shocked. For in my doorway stood my fourth-grade adversary, the one who beat me out of the spelling championship and called me fatty. And she had grown into the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.
Not recognizing me, she introduced herself and asked if she could use my phone. I took it out of my pocket and handed it to her. Trying to maintain my dignity and not to throw myself on the floor screaming, why me, Lord. When she left, I called my friend.
“You won’t believe this. One of my childhood objects of forgiveness from the fourth grade just left my house. She doesn’t even remember me and probably has no idea of the effect she had on me when we were young.”
My friend said, “Lucky you. Now you can lay that one to rest.”
I said, “By the way, her name is Emily.”
“Not Emily Jones?”
“Yes. Why? You know her?”
“She just joined the singles group at church. I didn’t respond well when I met her.”
“Well, lucky you.”
The next day she knocked on the door again. I answered it.
She said, “Sorry to bother you. You know how moving is.”
I felt as if I was moving quite a bit myself.
“Say, you look familiar,” she said.
“Lucy Pembroke Elementary, Miss Marston’s class, fourth grade.”
“Oh my goodness, little Susie. You were the most wonderful child. I was jealous of you.”
“Why?” I gasped.
“Because you had friends. I didn’t have any.”
Tears glistened in her soft brown eyes. This goddess of all she surveyed was standing in my kitchen crying over memories of a lonely childhood, like a big beautiful puppy needing a pat on the head.
“Would you like a cup of coffee? We can talk,” I said.
I brewed, the radio played oldies so old they were rusted. I thought of the Christ in whatever form He embodied.
My spirit sang, “If I knew you were coming, I’d have baked a cake.”