When I was a kid, oh, around 13 or 14, just after my father died, my mother and I had been out visiting friends. We had not listened to the weather report. But when at our friends, we learned of a hurricane headed our way, and so we headed home. We had the rare experience of driving home in the eye of the hurricane. It was a weird experience. We could hear the wind. We could see it lashing in the distance around us. We saw the dark clouds in the surrounding distance. But immediately above us, all was clear… it was so strange. We got home safely – and if I recall correctly, I saw blue sky, and we got home dry.

My mother thanked God, and I thought, “storm? What storm?”

During the night we heard the raging winds and beating rains. In the morning we looked outside to see the havoc wreaked by the storm. A damaged roof, a felled tree… to the best of our knowledge, our house was the only one in the neighborhood not damaged by the storm. God took care of my recently widowed mother, and me.

Tonight I received encouraging words from so many friends at church, and then a phone call from a friend with whom I worked in Israel. As I sit here now and consider the amazing people God has brought into my life, I realize that in many ways, that God, and my friends are the eye of a hurricane to me. While the storm rages about me, the storm of grief and sorrow and unanswered questions, the tears that come unexpectedly… I have a foundation in my creator who has surrounded me with a wall of friends.

I am stunned at how many people are in my life as more than casual acquaintances. In Hebrew we have two words for friends, ‘yadidim’ and ‘chaverim’ – the latter word is the closest relationship, but ‘yadidim’ also has a relational quality to it, just not as close as ‘chaverim’ – Although there is ‘yadid nefesh’ – a friend of the soul – which usually is only God.

I have a yadid nefesh in my creator, and am surrounded with yadidim and chaverim from many parts of my life – from my past in the States, my years in Israel, colleagues from work and my professional organization, and people whom I am still getting to know here in the States, as well as my own new family that Rich gave me.

All the money in the world cannot buy the friends I have been blessed with. I am not worthy of these friends. Oh, what they have put up with from me. I do not know why I have been so blessed. But I am so very blessed. In this storm of loss, truly I am in the eye of the hurricane of grief. My loss is great – yes. The storm is there. I will not minimize our loss. But I am so blessed and so thankful for the good memories as well, and thankful for each of you, encouraging me in your way, whether by visits, email, phone calls, or prayers that I will never know about until I too have made the journey to my final home.

And so, this evening, although I am still missing my husband, and wish I could share these thoughts with him too, I am so very thankful. First, for my Lord and Savior who will never give up on me, and holds me in His hands, and second, for all the wonderful people He has brought into my life.

Amen.