Some events you always capture on film- birthdays, graduations, family reunions, vacations. You know these things are important, and you want to document them from start to finish so you will always have that reminder. Other things are non-events. They are seemingly insignificant. They are regular, everyday things until all of a sudden they aren't anymore. They can be life-changing. Life-sustaining. And you didn't even think to take a picture. That is the way it was with Thursdays.
I am sure I probably went before then, but the Thursday after my D&C, I went. I needed to be around people. Every week, my friends René and Urba planned out a little meeting place, sent out an email about the when and where to a huge group of local friends, and generally 3 or 4 of us would show up. And on January 17, I was kind of crumbling, so I went. We had hibachi, or I did. They had sushi. And in a completely God-orchestrated providence, each of the four of us that sat at the table had endured the loss of a baby. I was surrounded by girls that knew what I was going through. They shared their stories of grief and healing, and offered unspoken hope in the fact that they went on to have lovely, healthy children afterward. For the next few months, the group grew and Thursdays became important.
We met at coffeehouses and taco joints and Ethiopian restaurants and pizza places and sandwich shops. The group varied from week to week, but essentially, it was the same little collection of girls meeting. We read through Esther and Ruth together, chapter by chapter. We talked about the cultural things in the stories that we didn't understand and the ones we did. We shared where we were spiritually and what God was teaching us. Sometimes it was profound and good and big. And sometimes it felt like He was silent, and we were free to say that, too.
We brought our kids (I even brought my niece once) and we wrestled them into submission while we read, sometimes just giving up and leaving before everyone else. We prayed with Catrina as she watched her husband wrestle with cancer and then through his ultimate heavenly healing when he passed. We prayed for Lori who spent months in limbo, not sure if she should settle into life in Dallas or if her husband's job would move her little family again. We prayed for Tulana's grandmother when they got her cancer diagnosis, and we are still praying even now. We prayed for René's kids, for Christy's health, and we watched as God spoke and answered. They joined me in prayer when we knew God was moving us away from our church. They prayed for our finances when our pay was cut. They waited with me in anticipation as we prayed through the possibility of moving to Tennessee. We joined in prayer for Constance, for provision and safety as she traveled to Thailand to work as a missionary. And we laughed. Sometimes very loudly. And we talked about things that didn't matter in addition to the hundreds of things that did.
This was how we spent our time on Thursdays over the last six months. Sometimes certain ones of us stayed way longer than the others (ahem... Catrina and René) because we needed the fellowship. We were a funny group. We all came from the same church, but God had moved us away a little at a time. We were kind of displaced. Church refugees. And then God gave us this thing that we didn't even know we needed and so we never asked for. But He knew. And in my head, I can still hear Catrina singing page number 558 from the old red Methodist hymnal... I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together. Though I am mostly a local church girl, I certainly found church in these moments. I found it right there in the pizza parlors and coffee shops, over bagels and chips and salsa.
Then Jake and I were moving. And then so was Lori. And preschool ended, so moms went from having free Thursdays to hanging out with preschoolers. Now school is out and so everyone has kids at home and I am far away in Tennessee and Lori is headed to Illinois. And just like that, our Thursdays are very different.
This was our gift for a season. It was never meant to last because God knew we wouldn't need it forever. Carrie has settled on a new church, and I think the other Carrie has, too. Catrina is still walking through her first days of being a widow, and I am sure the term "widow" seems as strange to her as it does to us, no matter how true. She is daily, walking proof that God's grace is sufficient even as we walk through the unthinkable. Lori is packing boxes, and I am sorry that I am not there to pack with you, girl. I really am. Dawn has settled at a new church and loves it. Urba is out there running laps around us, getting up at crazy hours to work out. Chrys has moved to Fort Worth with her sweet, growing babies. The others are doing well... moving on. I am here in Tennessee, and though I have only been here a little while, we already feel loved and cared for by our new church family.
But I will miss Thursdays. I will find a new way to spend those mornings. Maybe I will spend time in prayer for these girls. Maybe I will start a new Bible study on that day. I don't know just yet. But I'm thankful for the gift... thankful for the season. And girls, every Thursday, I'll be thinking of you.
After I wrote this and said we had no pictures, I ran across this one. It's the only one I know of, and we took it before we prayed and sent it to the person we prayed for. I think it's the perfect tribute to the moments we spent together.