May 5, 2021

FAITH AS A FRIEND

Soon after my divorce, I became friends with another single mom at church.  Edwina lived near me with her two little girls Kirstin and Marcie, and had a not so great job working for the State of South Carolina.  She introduced me to a co-worker she’d become friends with—Faith.  Faith had moved to Columbia after a painful divorce and was living with her brother and his family.  As the three of us spent more time together, Faith and I discovered we shared many interests.

With her brother and sister, she had grown up as a missionary kid in the Caribbean—on Saint Lucia Island. Of course that wasn’t one of the things we had in common!  Faith was very well read and obviously extremely bright—but she grieved over not having her college degree.  And she was determined that she would somehow sometime earn her degree.  She was like a sponge– reading on a wide range of subjects, listening to classical music, studying art.  Together we discovered Flannery O’Connor and Annie Dillard—both of whom are still among my favorite writers. We went to the local art theater to see John Huston’s 1979 movie Wise Blood.

We were both unlearning some of our earliest spiritual teachings—those doctrines and traditions that had been so hurtful.  We read C.S. Lewis, Frederick Buechner, G.K. Chesterton, and Craig Barnes. She introduced me to Michael and Sarah Eremic.  He was pastor of a small local church, and a brilliant Bible scholar.  He taught a 7 am weekly Bible study downtown and agreed that Faith and I could attend.  The other students were local businessmen—mostly realtors, lawyers, and investment brokers. Her relationship with the Eremics helped heal many of her spiritual wounds. After a year or so, they and their two children went to Germany as missionaries.

Faith eventually began working in jobs she found more meaningful—first in a medical practice group and eventually she became a top executive assistant at Providence Hospital, where I worked!  In the mid-1980’s she had regrouped and felt like her life was back on track.  She decided it was time to take the big leap and go to college!  She moved to the Philadelphia area and spent several years working and going to school part time.  She did eventually get that college degree that meant so much to her.  One lovely fall we met at a historic inn in the woods of Pennsylvania. We had a great visit, talking about all the books we’d read and catching up on our news.

Her Christmas letters were always long and filled with detailed summaries of her favorite book read that year.  One year this second photo was part of the annual letter.  She had met Ken, a health care consultant, and they were engaged.  He loved Faith and could provide her with the stability and comfort she’d always longed for.  They lived in Virginia several years, and drove over to Annapolis for Patrick and Julia’s wedding in 2002!  

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