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Finding comfort in an unseen friend

December 23, 2006|by DEE MAYBERRY

A brand new year is close upon us. Some will wake up Jan. 1, stretch, look out a window and say "welcome 2007; I'm glad the past year is gone." Unless a bit hung over, they are the happy ones in Washington County.

Others will wake up a little disappointed. For them, 2006 brought good things and they are sad to have it leave. Maybe the old year saw a wedding, perhaps a much-wanted baby or a successful health outcome. There is the thought that 2007 cannot possibly be that grand.

Odds are that the new year will bring emotional feast or famine similar to that gone by. As with the happy wedding couple, there will be ups and downs. Joys and sorrows usually balance out.

On deepest feeling levels, many will worry about loved ones serving in the Middle East. Solace is found in prayers of hope and encouraging letters from the war area.

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Regarding the war, an increasingly talked-about presidential prospect recently said that there is no good solution to the Middle East problem, there are only "bad and worse." Definitely not a happy thought for 2007.

A tumor in the head of one little boy at a far-away hospital seems better. His treatment is experimental and parents are troubled. Maybe improvement will continue, maybe not.

In Boonsboro, an aging Irish Setter has more white on her muzzle and her chocolate eyes are showing cataracts. She may go, she may stay awhile. That situation, too, offers both hope and reason for solemn preparation.

In 2007, as in the passing year, the wheel turns. The good and the bad come upon us and feeling helpless and vulnerable, we worry. Others refuse to be gloomy (possibly with undue enthusiasm) about the likelihood of disappointment, even grief.

Somewhere in the middle stand people of faith, those who believe in a God who may not always give us what we want, but what we need in the turning of the wheel.

People of faith - whatever its manner of expression - take a measure of comfort in the biblical instruction about a time to sow and a time to reap a time to live and a time to die.

A little girl, not often taken to church, sensed a presence walking beside her. He was not a childish imaginary friend, he was something more - a strong, protector. In good times, bad times and very ordinary times, he felt close by.

When she walked to school, he was there inviting her to look at and appreciate the bright blue California sky and the contrast of red pomegranates drooping from fences along her way. Even alone, she never felt lonely.

In adulthood, she tended to take things into her own hands, forgetting the friend and what he helped her eyes to see. She took credit herself for the good things as the logical result of hard work and dedication to family and career. Believing it all came out of her own efforts, she never said thank you to her spiritual friend.

Then came a time when death, illness and bad outcomes taught a harsh lesson. Nothing she did could make things right. Her experience, and whatever talent she valued, counted for absolutely nothing.

In pain, she wandered into an empty church. She sat alone, praying silently about her inability to change anything - much less herself. In a moment of clear understanding she gave her problems to God. She mixed in an apology for failure to appreciate that all the good she had known was a gift, undeserved, unearned. Then she asked only for strength, not relief.

The old hymn, which begins with the words, "He walks with me, he talks with me, he tells me I am his own," resonates well with people of faith. As 2007 approaches, as the wheel turns toward good or ill, they acknowledge that nothing is guaranteed except the gift of an unseen friend.

Is it not so that in this troubled world we need something like this? It may not occur to many of us but the Higher Power idea has an awful lot going for it.

To all readers there is extended a resounding wish for the happiest possible new year - and a special friend of their very own.

Dee Mayberry is a Boonsboro resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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