I made a trip to NYC this past week - not for it's glamour or to sightsee, but rather to spend some time with a very close friend who's grieving the loss of a friend who just committed suicide. I was only in New York for about 25 hours, and despite the fact that I didn't go with any intentions of sightseeing, we certainly managed to chalk up some interesting experiences, just by the nature of being in the "Big Apple."
Shortly after I arrived, we went to visit a local falafel restaurant, where one can get a super yummy falafel sandwich for just $2.50. This place has a signature hot sauce which is one of their 'claims-to-fame,' which we accidentally used a little too generously. Ooops! Heartburn...
My friend lives in a communal Quaker home in Manhattan, and I met some interesting housemates of hers. They are teachers, dancers, potters, business folk, models, international exchange students learning English, writers for Japanese newspapers and much, much more. They live together, sharing chores and housework. Thursday night is my friend's night to clean up after dinner, so after a delicious organic, gourmet meal in the house's dining room, we went to work on washing and sterilizing all the plates and utensils and cleaning up the kitchen. I have a whole new appreciation for industrial sized sinks and water sprayers - and so do my clothes that ended up wet!
In times of such terrible sadness and lack of understanding about life, there wasn't much I could say to my friend that would ease her pain or help her to understand why someone would take their own life. Mostly I was just there to love her and be with her, listen to her recount the stories of her friend's life, cry, laugh, or just be silent. Life seems so fragile... And so many people are broken, yet we aren't even aware of the pain and suffering they're experiencing inside.
Our time together was spent walking the streets of NYC, hopping on the subway, walking past homeless people who were asking for money (and my friend always gave them the loose change she had in her change purse), stopping by coffee shops, or looking at old photos of her friend who just died. I took some snapshots of some of the images of New York that I experienced in my 25 hours there, which you can see above. I'll have to share my experience with "The Best Back Rub" in Chinatown in another entry... coming soon!
My prayer for my friend is that she would feel God's love and PEACE surround her in these difficult times, that she would be able to REST in the assurance that God is GOOD and MERCIFUL. May she know how to process her thoughts and her grief, and may she know how to interact with other friends and family members who are suffering as well.
Romans 8:35-39: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.