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World's Apart, Only Not Really

Recently, a friend of mine passed away quite suddenly. She was someone I knew from where I work. She had been in my "sphere" of friends--not an especially close one--but one I could touch base with from time to time. On those rare occasions we both could find a few minutes to talk, we usually talked about our families, our job stresses, her commute versus mine. I guess it was mostly superficial stuff, except once in a while. Because I am an active member of a Christian church, my faith comes up in conversation with all kinds of people from all walks of life. My friend was born and raised in Ethiopia. She escaped to the United States and eventually brought many of her relatives here. She was also a Christian. We shared our thoughts on the trinity, on Jesus, on God. And our conversations were rich with her nuance of understanding as well as my own. I can't talk religion in my place of work, or well, I'm not supposed to. But touching base with her on those rare times when we had time was a gift rare and wonderful. I find when I walk past her desk, I wonder what she is experiencing now, when she has finally "met her Maker." Oh, I'm not ready to meet God yet. But I yearn for the conversations with her of deeper things than what the latest version of the Lord's Prayer looks like or what hymns were sung.

I went to her funeral across the river. It was a unique experience and I wished she was there to thank her for it. It enriched my understanding even further of the true meaning of "believing". Because even though I didn't understand the words spoken, I thoroughly understood the atmosphere and the icons on the wall and the solemn joy of those celebrating her life. She may have come from another continent, but she was my sister as surely as my own flesh and blood.

I would like to leave you with the words she would have used for "God Bless You". I'm not good on pronunciation, but hope you can at least phonetically try it out:

igizīyabiḥēri yibariki

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