The Phone Call and the Novena

A dear friend of mine phoned earlier this evening.  She refers to herself as my “spiritual mother” and I very much believe it.  She’s in her late 80’s, and is simply beautiful. I describe her as a piece of pure light wrapped in a tiny piece of increasingly frail human flesh.

We connected about a year and a half ago.  She had been reading my newspaper columns in the Denton Record Chronicle and phoned to talk with me and see if perhaps the church I serve would be able to embrace her and her unique understanding of Christian spirituality.  I assured her she and her husband would be both welcomed and celebrated here. An immediate friendship sprang up between us.

This dear saint has practiced regular, focused prayer and meditation for decades, and the the lifelong habit of that spiritual discipline gives her powerful awareness of things many of us just can’t see.

I’ve been having a bit of a tough time recently over some personal issues.  This has brought some sadness.  That sadness has been coupled with an unusually hard hit for me this year with my lifelong struggle of coping with the shorter and darker days of fall as we approach the winter solstice.  Simply put, I am more than a bit down.

A few minutes before she phoned me, the Spirit of God spoke to my friend and told her, “tomorrow, you will do a novena for Christy.”  She called to let me know.  Very simply, every hour on the hour for nine consecutive hours, she will stop everything she is doing and go to concentrated prayer for me.

The tears sprang to my eyes as I said a simple “Thank you.”  This will be hard on her physically, and will interrupt some needed rest time, but I would not dream of suggesting she should not be obedient to God.  It is a giant, huge, gift of love for me.

I already feel enfolded by it.  It’s like nestling in fluffy down comforter on a crisp night, sleeping with an open window or even outside, but knowing warmth holds me.

8 thoughts on “The Phone Call and the Novena

  1. I was serving on a worship committee for another church,when the interim pastor at the time urged us to set the stage for deep worship, life-giving joy and sincere consolation.

    “Every Sunday, someone in the congregation comes into the sanctuary with a breaking heart. Sometimes it’s the minister’s.”

    Rev. Thomas, I pray that you will know comfort soon. You are loved.

    Cindy Breeding
    Krum UMC member.


  2. Christy – I too find the dark days and long nights lonely and sad. I hope that your friend’s prayers will lift you, like a hand being held in the darkness.


  3. It strikes me as ironic, as one who has dealt with depression for decades, how often those called to the professional ministry and those of us who are active laity seem to wander into this valley of the shadows. It is as if we firmly believe the message of God’s infinite love, unknowable wisdom and and forgiveness and constant presence is there for us to tell others, to even witness to thousands …but that still, small voice sometimes says ‘…everyone but you’.

    I have come to accept that, for me, it takes these times of grayness for me to reawaken my reliance on God, my heart-awareness that He sent me a Savior who walked our walk, knew our pain and accepted the suffering of our burdens when He had a choice to walk away from it all. It is when I am going through the shadows that I can appreciate that Jesus chose the hard way – for our sake. It takes suffering to recognize that sometimes.

    It also takes someone like your sweet, loving friend – someone willing to be the eyes and ears, the hands and feet, and sometimes, the voice of Christ in our lives for us to hear this beautiful message of rebirth. I am not glad for your time in the darkness; I am glad you know you have God-sent messengers of strength, hope and presence with you – earthly reminders of God-with-us. This carol comes to mind:

    O come, o come Emmanuel
    And ransom captive Israel
    That mourns in lowly exile here
    Until the Son of God appear.
    Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel!
    Shall come to thee, O Israel!


    1. Don, I meant to reply to this earlier, but in all honestly, have been so overwhelmed by my emotional pain right now that I am not staying on top of things very well. I so appreciate what you wrote here. It helps to know I don’t suffer alone. It’s just a very difficult time.


  4. Christy, I can’t feel what you feel for you, but having struggled with depression for so long, my heart skips a beat when I hear that someone, meaning you, is down and yearning for that blanket in the cold of night. You have so often and so fervently prayed for others. I’m glad you can accept the prayers of your dear friend. I’ll pray for you, as well as for the one who loves you enough to spend nine hours with her heart intervening for you.


  5. You are truly blessed to have someone like her as a friend and spiritual mentor.. We don’t come upon them often in ministry, and it seems when we finally do in the UMC, we’re moved and can’t see them again.


  6. isn’t it wonderful that God sends such people into our lives! I’ll promise to say prayers for you as well. Please know that you are in my prayers daily during the moment of silence at school. And I too understand how sadness can invade your life during these shorter days of winter. God Bless you and especially your friend as she prays.


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