When I’d first heard of the event, I knew I wanted to go. Maybe needed to go. Just because I knew a little bit of the artist’s story, enough to believe her life might speak to mine.
So I put a ticket on my birthday list.
I wasn’t going to ask any of my friends if they were going. I just wanted to slip quietly into the back and let the evening happen.
Then I thought of my friend. We’d attended this event together every year since her husband died. Even that first year, just weeks after his death, tear-stained, arms wrapped around each other, holding on, getting through.
I wondered if she was going. Felt a little selfish for not asking.
So I sent her a message.
She was going. With a small group of friends and relatives. “We’d love to have you join us. We’re going out to dinner first.”
“I think I’m at Children’s Hospital that day,” I messaged back. “Can I let you know?”
But the truth is that I didn’t want to go to dinner or be social or engage. I just wanted to sit quietly in the dark and breathe.
Tuesday evening, late, less than 24 hours before the event, a friend I hadn’t seen for a few of years sent me a Facebook message.
“Hi, do you know of anyone with extra ticket for tomorrow night’s event?”
“Why?” I wondered. “Was it sold out?”
“Yup. Two weeks ago.”
Immediately I thought of my ticket. My one ticket. All she needed. Yet somewhere deep inside I heard, “No, you need to go.”
“Let me check,” I messaged back, “and I’ll let you know.”
In the morning, I contacted another friend, because if anyone would know of an extra ticket to any event, anywhere, it would definitely be her.
She immediately texted back, “Yes!”
Moments earlier, in a staff meeting, a co-worker had mentioned that she had an extra ticket — one extra ticket — for the Laura Story event that night if anyone knew of someone who needed one. Wow!
This whole unlikely group met in the lobby that evening – my beautiful widowed friend, her friends who’d gotten there early to hold our seats, the friend who’d asked for an extra ticket, the friend who’d found one…and me.
God had ensured I’d be there that night, if for no other reason than to facilitate this ticket exchange.
For while I was retrieving the ticket from one friend, my sweet widowed friend was discovering that the friend who’d asked for a ticket, also a young widow, was there…alone.
God had brought us all together in that space at that time, on purpose, to lean close, grasp hands and cry together in the dark.
“It’s hard to raise sick kids.”
“Hard to lose your person.”
“It was hard and lonely and dark that first week. So, so hard.”
Grace spilled raw as we slipped through the doors and into the dark. Gathered in, leaning close, voices rising, tears splashing in the candlelight.
Hope flickering into flame.
Love washing over weary souls, long and deep and high and wide.
Wrapped in the arms of community. Beautiful. Perfect. Unearned.
And without end.
We love because He first loved us. ~ 1 John 4:19
There could be no truer wisdom than that.