I went to visit her today and she once again offered me a cup of “friendship tea”. The tea is a blend of tea and Tang that she has been offering me for the whole of our forty years of friendship. She is not quite sure of where the name of this blend came from and I have no idea. Even so, even at 90, she had the kettle on waiting for me to arrive for our visit and the offer of tea as always. It has been a tradition with us.
As I reflected on my friend and the tea, I am keenly aware of how precious her friendship has been, how much refreshment and encouragement she has provided me, far beyond the tea she always offers. The tea, served first at her kitchen table, was a welcome to sit and chat. Much of the time she was listening to me. Through the last forty years, she has offered me the most precious of gifts, listening as well as often praying for me.
When we met, I was a young mother of two and she, twenty years my senior, seemed to never mind my chatting on about the season she had already walked through. There were gaps in the forty years where my life seemed to be spiraling off in so many directions that we would not see each other, but when I would be in touch she offered me the grace of never reminding me of the gap or how she had missed me. When we would see each other, it was as if we had talked only last week.
Today as I hugged her before leaving and took a moment to pray for her, I felt so thankful for how much she had reflected Jesus to me all these years. He too has often spent more time listening to me than I have waited to listen to Him. He too has not reminded me of His disappointment for being away from Him at times. He too has offered me continual grace and love.
It matters little what the source of the name of “friendship tea” was. What has mattered has been the gift of friendship she has offered, the kindness she has never failed to show, and the love that was always offered without any expectation in return.