“Hi, Nellie Bud!”
That was a familiar greeting from years past from Ben St. Clair, my husband’s best friend. It was an eerie feeling to hear it again because Ben has been dead for 14 years.
The man at the other end of the telephone line said he was a seminary friend of Ben St. Clair and of my husband, Ralph. He and his wife were en route to Nashville. They had decided to stop and give their condolences about Ralph’s death. In the past, he had heard Ben St. Clair give the “Nellie Bud” greeting when I answered the telephone. The mystery was solved, and I began to feel better. It also made me realize our interconnectedness with others.
While visiting the redwood forest in California, our family learned these giant trees had interconnected roots so that when the storms come they can be upheld by each other. Likewise, when our personal storms come, we can be held steady through the important trio — faith, family and friends. We already know some storms will come to us all. They can be such things as disappointments, illnesses, death of loved ones, financial reverses, betrayals by others.
During the memorial service for Ben, United Methodist Church Bishop Ray Chamberlain so caught the spirit of Ben St. Clair that we could almost see him walking among us. We could see the twinkle in his eyes, hear his laughter, see his generous acts of friendship and see him prepare to tell one of his famous stories. Then, the bishop suggested Ben had such a network of friends that this connection gave him additional energy and love of life.
The entire experience that flowed from that eerie telephone call caused me to see anew the short space between this world and the next. I also could see the interconnectedness we all experience from the trio of faith, family and friends. Faith gives meaning and direction to life; family keeps us connected on an emotional level; and friends provide acceptance. These are the things that hold us steady, and life is far richer because of this. Thanks be to God.
Nell Mohney is a Christian author, motivational speaker and seminar leader. She may be reached at nell firstname.lastname@example.org.