Becoming friends.

(Photo taken in downtown Jacksonville.)

(Photo taken in downtown Jacksonville.)

This past Wednesday morning was one of our coldest yet this year. It was drizzly and the wind blew right through the patio area outside Clara White Mission, where we host a weekly Morning Prayer and coffee fellowship.

“Good morning,” I greeted my friend Benny, who came off the street for breakfast and some hot coffee.

“Best, most glorious morning of my life,” he responded, giving me something to contemplate.

Over the course of the next hour, there were many conversations and connections made, as we visited with old friends and met new ones.

With the wind chill biting at us relentlessly, I wondered if anyone would bother to come to the Bible study. A few minutes before we were to begin, I glanced over and a small group was already gathering. We asked God to be in our conversation as we pondered scripture. We prayed for one another and for those who were not present. We prayed for our broken world. More than anything, I was struck by a strong sense of hope – an affirmation that God is with us, even in the darkest, coldest corners of our lives.

I was struck by the power of attitude — an attitude of gratitude fueled by the sense that none of us is ever truly alone, not even in our loneliest moments.

At one point in the morning I walked over to a spot where a frisky puppy – a beautiful chocolate Lab mix — had been tied up. He was friendly and full of life. Just as I got close, a man came out, picked up his bowls and stuffed them in a nap sack. He looked down mostly and wore a cap low over his eyes.

“Is this your dog?” I asked.

The smile that broke across his face was priceless. There was no mistaking that this pooch is his best friend. If wiggling uncontrollably is any indication, it became clear that “Buddy” felt the same way about this soft-spoken man.

We need to know that we are loved unconditionally. However, we not only need to receive this unconditional love. We also need to find a way to share it.

About Mother Beth Tjoflat

Episcopal priest, urban contemplative, playwright, lover of hounds, American of Chilean-Norwegian-Moravian descent. Interests include transformational ministry with the forgotten and marginalized; church planting and congregational development; 12-step spirituality; Hispanic ministry; radical hospitality, and spending time with dear friends.
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