Careful readers of this blog will have noted that I had two first-class visits last week with friends from St. Boniface Church, Sarasota.
On Monday last it was with Deacon Alan Rogers.
On Friday last it was with the the Revd. John (Jack) Chrisman and his wife Donna.
I began this new week (Sunday 26th July 2015) with another time of blessing with a friend.
He is Joe R, (from Massachusetts) whom I have known since 1980.
I have been with Joe through thick and thin: as an assisting Priest at his wedding to Deanne; at the time when one of his brothers was murdered (a ghastly time); and at the funerals for his mother Irene, and his father Ray.
My friendship with Joe and Deanne has led to them have a rich and abiding friendship with my brother Martyn and his wife Wendy (that's a long and lovely story).
Joe is in Orlando, FL for a business conference. He took advantage of some down time in that conference to drive over to SRQ today.
It was a gracious and blessed time. We "took up" as if we were close neighbours: with humour; with shared news about our Church memberships and our families; and with that trusting emotional and intellectual intimacy which is the fruit of a thirty five year old friendship.
It was great, but not perfect - for Deanne, Martyn and Wendy were not present.
I chose to eat in (restaurants are all to often crowded, noisy and busy).
I think that Joe liked my home made Gazpacho, which was followed by my (also) home made Tabbouleh Salad, corn, peas, and butter-cooked rib eye steaks.
If he did not like it, he was wise enough to flatter me with gracious compliments about my culinary skills.
That's what friends are for!
AND I SAY TO MYSELF "what a wonderful week".
"Dear Alan, Jack, Donna and Joe - you are gifts of grace to me".
Dear God - I am grateful.