On Mission to Share Joy

A couple of weeks ago one of my granddaughters and I visited a local bookstore warehouse where all books, other than those for children, are $.98. It was fun to browse. Many of the books were from a different era, but sometimes that just doesn’t matter. One of my favorite cookbooks is by Jeff Smith. He’s been around for a long time, and my favorite is well-worn. I found another Jeff Smith cookbook, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine, and purchased it for less than $1. When I got home and started to peruse my new purchase, I realized that I had a treat in store.

Early in the book, Jeff tells how he came to appreciate wine. As a twenty-year-old college student at Puget Sound University in 1965 and as a Methodist pre-seminary student, Jeff had never come to appreciate the use of wine. He met Mrs. Pearle Baskin at an art appreciation class one evening, and she said she’d like for him to join her and her husband for dinner sometimes. An invitation to several of the students for lunch came the next day. Soon afterward Jeff was invited to dinner and got to spend time with Dr. Lester Baskin, a well-known surgeon in the area. Dr. Baskin had a deep appreciation for wine and loved to share his love with everyone he met.

Beyond his love for wine, here’s what Jeff Smith shared about Dr. and Mrs. Baskin: “A lesson in wine from a lesser person probably would not have had such an effect upon me. In this man, however, I saw a warm and earnest concern for the welfare of all people, not just his patients. Pearle and Lester always had some faces or couples at table who were new in town …. and he wanted them to meet everyone. I don’t even know where he found all these people. On one occasion I would be seated next to a highly respected artist. At the next dinner party I sat next to Lester’s cabinetmaker, his repairman. I met people at his table who have changed my life … drastically. And both he and Pearle knew it. ‘We love to collect people,’ Mrs. Baskin once said. ‘ Our art collection is second.’

Another recount in the story is about the evening Jeff came to dinner, and Dr. Baskin arrived late after a surgical procedure to save the arm of a child. Jeff remarked to him that it must be wonderful to be such a great healer. Dr. Baskin responded, ” I am not a healer. I participate in healing. God heals. I do not. And the fact that some medical procedure that has always worked in the past works in this particular situation always amazes me.”

This story touched me because I saw in Dr. and Mrs. Baskin two people who love people, who love to help people connect, and love to share God and His benefits with others. They were a blessing in their community.

My uncle and his wives were like the Baskins. Our family was blessed by my Uncle John and his first wife Sally for many years. They would host Preakness events for their extended family. Although Dwight and I were at a time with our family during those years that we did not attend, my parents, aunts and uncles and cousins share stories and memories. Uncle John hosted us with our Italian exchange student by researching and then escorting us around Washington, DC. Later, after Sally died, Barbara joined Uncle John in gathering friends and family into their home. Our most recent adventure was a couple of years ago when our eighty-nine year old uncle hosted a reunion for all of the cousins to come together up in Maryland. We have many fond memories of their wonderful hosting and sharing life with us. There was a memorial service this past Saturday, recorded and shared, so that all the cousins could appreciate and share memories with Barbara and John’s remaining family from a life well-lived.

There are many ways to gather people together so that everyone gets to be blessed. There can be large dinner events. There can be soup and sandwiches or take-out. It really doesn’t matter. The important thing is that God has provided life in Him to be lived with joy and blessing. It is to be shared with others for encouragement and connection. What richness!

What memories do you have from people who have blessed you with their gathering?