God enriched my life not only with friends like Dorie Howell, but with friends of so many different nationalities and diverse races. My life has been etched time and again with such diversity. But the most important etching in my life and on my heart is that of my most beloved Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I must have seen it a thousand times over, my name, Helen Louise, etched in glass on a flower vase. Above my name is etched a small songbird with flapped wing sitting on a small branch. It sits holding pale artificial flowers on the sink in my bathroom. Every time I wash my hands, wash my face, put on makeup, comb my hair or push it into its waves after shampooing, I see it. And yet this morning, it was more than seen. It was a reminder of a very dear friend who gave it to me as a gift.
That dear friend was Dorie Howell, a graduate student I met in college my freshman year as an undergraduate student at our Christian college founded by an Irish Presbyterian minister in Columbia, South Carolina. Dorie was one of those delightful people who was always cheerful—one might even call her the “life of the party.” She was quite tall, while I was so short. We only knew each other there for a year and a half, as she returned to California to begin teaching kindergarten. Through correspondence, our friendship grew and became punctuated with visits to California, to her family’s cabin in Colorado, and her visits to her sister and family in St. Louis. Dorie was also a twin whose sister was named Lorie. Dorie and Lorie. Another interesting fact about Dorie was she and her sister, as toddlers, were babysat by Marilyn Monroe when she was still Norma Jean before becoming a star.
Our friendship continuously grew and endured many years until God took her home following a long bout with ovarian cancer. I had visited her in California less than a year before she died sensing what the outcome of her medical battle would be. One day while at work, I telephoned her in the hospital from my office when one could charge calls to one’s home telephone. I felt compelled to call her and to attempt to encourage her. That very day a few hours later when I returned home, her twin sister telephoned me to let me know Dorie passed and was with the Lord. I was so struck that I called her only a few hours before her departure. God has a way of letting us know what we must do and when.
This morning seeing that etched vase reminded me that not only was my name etched on a vase; my friend remains etched on my heart. So many years later, I recall so many conversations and experiences with this dear friend and sister-in-Christ—conversations and experiences that not only formed a deep and rich friendship but edified us both in the Lord. We both shared a deep and rich love for our mutual Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We both sought to serve Christ by making Him known to others. Dorie, remaining single, loved children and gave them her all teaching kindergarten in a Christian school. She served Christ in many other ways as well through her church and in community service to many. She was completely spontaneous in talking about God.
A short while after her death, I was informed she made travel arrangements for me and others to go to California to attend her memorial service. So a plane ticket was made available to me to go, and I was able to spend time with her twin sister, Lorie, and her family with whom I remained in contact all these many years after Dorie’s death. A healthy friendship is not exclusive; it invites many others into it.
As I am reminded of this very dear friend who remains etched in my heart, along with so many more of diverse nationalities and races, my thoughts take me to our relationship with Jesus Christ and our Triune God. Just as my name is etched on a vase and a dear friend is etched on my heart, what about Jesus Christ? Is He etched on our hearts? Biblically, the word “etched” does not appear. But there are not a few references to Christ being written on our hearts:
“You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3: 2-3).
As a Christian woman, I have many very dear friends etched on my heart. In fact, the plaque to be placed on my grave reads “Devoted daughter and friend.” I want to leave behind the legacy that my parents and my friends were most important to me. God enriched my life not only with friends like Dorie Howell, but with friends of so many different nationalities and diverse races. My life has been etched time and again with such diversity. But the most important etching in my life and on my heart is that of my most beloved Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The etched vase that caught my attention this morning reminded me, yes, of a very dear friend; but it also reminded me of an eternal relationship that matters the most in life and for eternity. Is He and His sacrificial death on the cross for you and His resurrection etched upon your heart?
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa.