I wasn’t able to go to the funeral on Friday, and, I regret that now. Although Sister Betty hadn’t been an active part of my life during the past thirty years, she remains a powerful part of my heritage. And I wish I’d gone to honor her and to reconnect for just a moment with all the other people who shared that legacy. (Note to self: take time for funerals in the future. They matter.)
No one writes sonnets or screenplays about the quiet life of a country preacher’s wife. But, they should. It is a high calling and a worthy pursuit. Someone did write a couple of phrases that remind me of Sister Betty, though. The apostle Paul was writing to a young preacher named Timothy about how to take care of widows in the newly-formed church. Sister Betty was not a widow-in-need, but I think this description fits her so well. Paul told Timothy to put a widow on the list for care if she had:
…been the wife of one man. Well reported of for good works; if she had brought up children, if she had lodged strangers, if she had washed the saints’ feet, if she havd relieved the afflicted, if she had diligently followed every good work.First Timothy 5:9-10, KJV
I think Sister Betty did all that. In the circle of small, country churches where I grew up, our preachers traveled a circuit and preached in four different churches each month. So, every few weeks it would be my parents’ turn to host Brother Raymond and Sister Betty overnight.
Occasionally, I would call my mother on a Sunday morning when that happened, and she would always say, “Yes, we had Brother Raymond’s here last night and we’re all getting ready for church. Sister Betty jumped up and started washing the breakfast dishes. She is always good company.”
If you’ve ever been called upon to have the preacher and his wife over for dinner at your house, you know what a high compliment my mother gave. It is so true of Sister Betty. She was good company here on earth. And I know Heaven is glad to have her.