Part #1 is an edited version of a narrative which I wrote almost
three years ago and which was featured in a church publication
and on-line

Lunching at a small table draped in pure white linen in an elegant restaurant mid-day mid-week mid-Sarasota with
my friend Suzanne was almost as good as it could get, but not quite.  We were about to spend an afternoon at the
opera.  It was the dress rehearsal for The Marriage of Figaro, and although it was a costly pursuit, dress rehearsal
or not, there would be only a fraction of the usual number of people there, and it was not unlike the mischievous
thrill of playing hooky from school.  Typically Suzanne, she had reserved seating in the first row of the mezzanine
with direct view of the orchestra as well as the entire stage, and we had swivel chairs capable of leaning so far back
that I had to work up the courage to surrender my body to my chair's beckoning "try me".  That, and the fact that
the railing in front of us was not at all adequate in restraining anyone from falling over the edge and plunging into
the seats far below with results I'd care not think about.  Eventually I warmed up to the chair,
but the railing and I kept a safe distance.

The world outside, the bustling energy of those hurrying about as they did their business, no longer was a concern
to those of us in this inner chamber of darkness.  "Silence" we were told, as the large auditorium slowly evolved to
total blackness, and collective expectations heightened in anticipation of the beautiful music about to envelop us.  
It was like a vacuum, an other-worldly tunnel where no one could reach us or penetrate our chosen afternoon of
fantasy.  As the music began, the vast auditorium became an echo chamber in which the masterful operatic voices
propelled themselves directly at me, so it seemed, and the entire place reverberated with dulcet sounds both
soothing and vibrant.  It was a rapturous afternoon interlude, whereby each person in his or her own space was
strangely ministered to in this eerie darkness and intermittent silence, interrupted by the glorious echoing music
of a hallowed ilk.


My mind was suddenly propelled into a endless space, yet so intimate, this vacuum, this omniscient
awareness as I'm being transported through the air.  I'm going to meet with Jesus my Lord.  The trumpet called
from afar, yet it was as though it were blasting within my head.  Reminiscent of the assimilated privacy of the
afternoon at the opera, I'm going up and up in this funnel of balmy breeze, surpassing the speed of sound.  
I hear the most glorious joyful music, or is it just in my head?  Still flying up and up.  I see the stars around me
bowing to the Lamb of God Who has stepped down from His throne and is descending to meet me.  There are
others who have gone before me who are surrounding Him, worshipping Him, wearing simple white gowns.  His
personage is resplendent in sparkling gold.  His eyes of fiery red glisten and His head is adorned with snow white
hair as He offers His hands to show everyone their crude holes.  Over His one forearm hangs a crown of sharp
thorns, another reminder of the horror He suffered on my behalf.  Far down below I see minuscule figures crying
"Lord, Lord", but He doesn't know them.  The thunder is booming in obedient reverberating praise and the lightning
is gleefully laughing as it ripples across the sky, maneuvering throughout the heavens.  The magnificent seraphim
and cherubim are swirling about in jubilant adoration to the Holy One, yet they fold their wings as they have no
understanding of salvation, having no need of redemption themselves.  The array of colors - hundreds of them;
the sounds - pulsating sounds; the aroma - like incense I've never before smelled.  I'm about to meet Jesus.  
I tremble in humble anticipation -


I had to adjust my eyes to the late afternoon sunbeams slipping through to the shadowed pavement as Suzanne
and I strolled out of the opera house, completely oblivious to whatever challenges the world would have had for us
during the past four hours.  That echoing euphoric music lingering in our heads.  I wondered what the great rapture
would feel like?  Was the tranquil essence of the opera in that darkened echo chamber a hint of what would come?  
Would I be counted among those who will walk with Him in robes of white?  
Who are they who will cry "Lord, Lord" as Jesus turns away?   


Since writing part #1 of Interlude my mother went on to be with Jesus: now part #2

We are again graced with white linen tablecloths, but this time Hank and Vince are with us.  Hank is Suzanne's
other half; Vince is mine.  In their graciousness Hank and Suzanne introduce us to the nicest of restaurants a
couple times a year.  This time it was a farewell as they were about to return to their sprawling estate up on Cape
Cod.  You know, the modest sea captain's home carefully landscaped with the nine hole golf course sloping down
across acres of manicured lawns with their blueberry grove in the background, tree canopied gazebo, and so on.  
Hopefully we would be up to the Cape in a few months to reunite with them.  I have come to understand that my
good friends are the ones who, when we've gotten back together after any amount of time whether it be days or
years, require less than a minute to continue where we left off as if there were no interruptions in between.   

Our table was near the edge of the restaurant's private dock, with a view looking downward and across the broad
expanse of salt water.  Mangrove islands dotted the horizon and graceful white egrets were diligently combing the
sand bars for delicacies to complete their day.  It had been in the 90's all day, and we were being blessed with a
just a hint of summer evening breeze, soothing and relaxing.  This was at the southern end of Siesta Key;
the part of the key where you want to be.   

Seated across from me in her colorful tropical attire, Suzanne had her hair pulled back the way women of class do.  
Hank was wearing a tropical shirt of fine linen, his usual smart casual attire and always with his hair at one with
nature moving in rhythm with the breeze.  Vince was looking very Florida in his classy Hawaiian shirt and slacks.  
The food and wine was as superb as anticipated, and the conversation traveled from Wyatt Earp to politics
(guardedly) to their upcoming trip around the world.  Going over some of their itinerary, places I can only visit in
my fantasies, they told of their chartered flight (with personal chefs and MD) which will take them everywhere from
Machu Picchu to the Easter Islands, to the Taj Mahal, to the Tower of London.  Nothing of interest to be overlooked.

Well, life is inequitable as you know, and friendships develop in unexpected ways.  Very few people have only one
kind of friends.  That would be boring.  Some of the nice moments in my life, the memory makers, cannot only be
from isolated experiences like having an especially elegant dinner at an exclusive restaurant by the water, but they
happen because of the friends I'm with.  This unlikely combination of four people has seen some down times and
some exhilarating times, and this is the substance of true friendships.  When I was up on Cape Cod and grieving
the passing of my mother, Hank and Suzanne were there for me.  I don't need a ton of friends in my portfolio
when I have a few who are this wonderful.  

Proverbs 18:24     "Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family."

Proverbs 27:9     "Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight,
a sweet friendship refreshes the soul."
                                                                   .....The Message