Widow. It’s a word no woman wants to describe her. But there are many. Over the last several years, I have had the privilege of coming to know the deep well that is a widow’s heart through friendships with some amazing women who are walking that road. Walking together.
There is a group of women who gather once per month for lunch. Simple fare. Nothing fancy. No hotdishes and bacon wrapped whatever. They dine on cheese and crackers, and they meld their hearts together. Widows Walk is what they call themselves. And their walk amazes me.
None of them asked for this. None of them chose this walk. But they walk together, and they are beautiful. I’m not sure they know it, but they are stunning. I have no idea what they talk about. I have no idea what their gatherings are like. I suspect there is laughter. I would imagine there are tears. They share a common bond that others simply do not understand.
Recently another friend joined their ranks. Her husband has passed and preparations for the funeral were underway. Talking with one of the beautiful widows, she said to me, “We don’t want any more members.” Meaning, of course, they would not wish this walk on anyone. But I have seen it several times now that when a woman loses her husband and is broken in that deep way, this group of ladies encircles her like doves. And when the funeral is over and the people go back to their every day lives, there is a place for the brokenhearted to learn to walk this walk they have not chosen.
How do these women do it? How do they give when it feels so much has been taken? It makes me think of another widow.
The Widow at Zarephath
1 Kings 17:8—16 (NLT)
8 Then the Lord said to Elijah, 9 “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.”
10 So he went to Zarephath. As he arrived at the gates of the village, he saw a widow gathering sticks, and he asked her, “Would you please bring me a little water in a cup?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called to her, “Bring me a bite of bread, too.”
12 But she said, “I swear by the Lord your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.”
13 But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”
15 So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her family continued to eat for many days. 16 There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.
This widow literally had nothing to give. She was going to make a little bread and then die. And I just noticed something for the first time reading this passage. Elijah didn’t say that her oil and flour would not run out “IF” she made a cake for him first. He asks her to make him a cake first because he already knows her provisions will not run out. “For this is what the Lord says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers…” (v. 14).
Like the olive oil in this widow’s containers, I see my Widows Walk ladies pour themselves out for each other, and it seems they actually stand more full afterward.
How Close They Must Have Become
My sweet and sassy friend Michelle is the fearless leader of Widows Walk. I asked her for her thoughts, and here is part of what she wrote to me:
“I think my favorite widows are Naomi, Orpah and Ruth. For me, they are the model for Widows Walk. Think of the tears they must have shared together! I can imagine one of them remembering something a husband did. Sobbing as she expressed her grief. The others without words understood and gathered around her. They held each other up. They stuck together though they could have gone their separate ways earlier than they did. On the road to Bethlehem when Naomi tried to get them to go back- they cried together. More grief. Now they would lose each other. Naomi and Ruth continuing the walk without Orpah. Just think how close they must have become!”
This is the heart she brings into leading the “wids” as she calls them. And as they walk in the footsteps of Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth, how close they become.
Help for the Widow
My husband has a special place in his heart for our widows. He takes the instructions in James 1:27 very seriously. “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress…” He and his good friend help where they can. They are a great team. Whether it’s auto repair, financial planning, plumbing issues, whatever, Catalin always wants to help. His time is kind of at a premium, but when the widows call he does whatever he can. I’m very proud of him for this.
If I am going to be perfectly honest, sometimes the various people and situations that pull at my husband’s time cause a little resentment in me. Time spent on those things is time not spent with his family. And I get a little jealous of that limited time. That’s my issue, and we try to find a balance with all of it. But I have to say that I NEVER feel this way when I know he is helping one of our widows. And it’s not just the life situation they find themselves in that softens my heart. It’s who they are. Unassuming and gracious. Usually they seem almost surprised that someone would want to help. Time spent assisting any one of them is time well spent.
I keep finding myself saying “our widows.” Because they are. They are ours. Part of our church family. Part of our community. And I feel a little possessive about them. Some I know better than others. But all are ours. Most I knew before they were one of “our widows”. Different stages of metamorphosis. Like a caterpillar, they surround themselves with a cocoon of grief, and slowly, in their time, they begin to immerge as something that looks different. That’s what I meant at the beginning when I said they are stunning.
I try not to let my mind go there, but sometimes my thoughts wander to “what ifs”. What if something happened to Catalin…? I can’t go there. I won’t borrow worry. I am surrounded by amazing family and friends, and God is faithful even through the toughest circumstances. But when my mind drifts, it often lands on the Widows Walk. I know I would have these beauties flanking me if I needed them. They don’t want me as a member, but I know they would welcome me with a depth of love and understanding that I think is almost mystical. God’s love in the silhouette of these strong women steadily walking forward. Walking their Widows Walk.
If you have found yourself in this same walk and would like to meet these beautiful women, you can find more information about their gatherings here.
Have you ever wondered what a widow needs? Lost for words? Wanting to help but not sure how? Click here for a great resource about what to say, and perhaps what not to say.