If my memory serves me correctly, neither one of us was thinking too much about the blessings we had received in our lives.
But we were rather focused on the all of the negative things we had endured. If you are reading this, please don’t try to tell me you haven’t done the same. Everyone has at some point in their life.
We finished eating and were still talking when Wilma Spriggs and her daughter Shirley walked by as they were leaving the restaurant.
It had been a long time since I had seen either one of them. But I have known the Spriggs family for years. I went to school with James and Wilma’s three children Shirley, Junior, and Rhonda.
I knew the family not only from school but also from Chalcedonia Church, where we all attended for many years.
Wilma had faced some trials of her own as she had lost her husband James and her daughter Rhonda prematurely.
But Wilma being Wilma, when she saw me she spoke and insisted on giving me a hug.
We exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes and she looked somewhat frail. So I asked them to sit down as we continued talking.
I asked her about Junior and she filled me in on all the things that he was doing in his life. She had her own health issues but didn’t dwell on those.
In the place of talking about any trials and tribulations she had faced, she began to talk about how good God had been to her in her life. The joy on her face was infectious as she talked about the many blessings that God had given her throughout her time here on earth.
She moved from talking about the blessings of God to the blessings of her church, Newlight. She invited Alan and me both to come and assured us that we would be welcomed on any Sunday.
I, of course, said that I would consider doing just that, knowing good and well I probably never would. But she gave the invitation more than once. And her invitation was given with enthusiasm and love. She meant it.
Wilma then began to tell me about how her church was so blessed to have Monroe Gunter as their pastor. She told us that he had really lit the church up with sermons that could only come from Heaven above.
Then she told me that if I would come she knew Monroe would be delighted to see me.
It wasn’t too long after that she told Shirley they had better get home. She hugged me again and it wasn’t one of those lightweight hugs. It was a hug that meant she really loved the person she was hugging.
As I headed home I thought a lot about what Wilma said. I thought about the many issues she had faced and was still facing and I almost felt sick to my stomach.
Here I was having not faced half of the things this woman had faced and all I could do was sit and belly ache about my horrid existence.
And all she could do was talk about the goodness of God, the blessings from her church, and the blessings she received from her pastor.
And she mentioned those blessings in that order. She had her priorities where they needed to be; God, church, pastor.
But whether she knew it or not, she had delivered her own sermon to me on this night. It was a message that stayed with me and still does.
Sadly, as I was reading the obituaries a few days ago, I read where Mrs. Wilma Spriggs had passed away on Christmas Day. I had no idea that she had passed and was saddened by discovering this.
I know it must have been a sad day for Shirley and Junior. But what a fitting day for this woman with so much love for God to be called home.
She was called home on Christmas; the birthday of the One she loved so much.
Everyone has trials. But Wilma had real joy. And she shared her joy. She shared it with me on our last encounter.
I hope she knew I heard her message.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.