Several years ago, my wife, the Rev. Dr. Debra Carl Freeman, organized a number of “Prayer Knots” within the congregation we served as co-pastors. One of the practices she strongly recommended for these small groups was regular Bible study using the daily lectionary. After about eight years of participation in one such group, I and another member, Jo Fontaine, began to swap emails each day pointing to verses that had been particularly meaningful or thought-provoking for us. Jo and I were having so much fun communicating our thoughts that I thought maybe others would enjoy getting in on the conversation. So on March 14, 2007 I began this blog. And though it has recently begun to attract a larger number of readers, Jo has always been one of the people I could count on to read it and comment on it. Jo was a little skittish with the internet, so she never actually saw the blog. What she saw was an email of each post that I sent to her as soon as it was written. Even after a change in pastorates lead me to another town, I remained as active as possible in that prayer knot with Jo and our friends HK Stewart and Vivianna McAtee, and I continued to swap emails with Jo.
In recent months, Jo’s health began to decline. She was well into her 90’s and still full of the same insight and wisdom that I had come to value, but finally Jo was not physically up to the challenge. I last met with the group early this past April on a visit to Little Rock. It met one more time after that. Yesterday, I again returned to Little Rock where I had the honor of participating in Jo’s funeral. It will feel strange to post to my blog today, knowing that I will not be forwarding a copy to her, that her thoughts will not arrive in my inbox, that our opportunity for sharing has ended for now. Grace abounds, but not always in ways that we fully appreciate.
I was struck today by the first verse of the morning Psalm: “O Lord, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill?” (Psalm 15:1). It is a question Jo might have pondered with great interest in years past. Now, by the grace of God, Jo is a part of the answer. I will miss her, and the gatherings that she, HK, Vivianna, and I shared for 14 years. But I will remain grateful to my wife for organizing “prayer knots,” to the others for participating, and to Jo for sharing her insight and wisdom over the years. She once referred to my wife as the godmother of our prayer group––which was true––but it was Jo who, despite her humility, was the heart of it.
Prayer: Lord, for all the saints who from their labors rest, we give you thanks and praise. In Jesus’ name. Amen.