The phone rang early this morning. It was a friend who’d recently moved from the island back to the state where she’d been raised. I miss her, but was pleased to know of her happiness in her new home, appreciating that it was time for her to leave the island and move on with her life. Holding onto friends on an island is not easy; people tend to settle here and then move on, leaving for reasons of health or finances or proximity to children and grandchildren. I see these friends less than before, but try to maintain relationships with phone calls, letters, emails, and sporadic visits. I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul who occasionally visit the churches he helped establish, but depended on letters to communicate with them. Filled with advice, warnings and Christian doctrine, Paul kept his relationships alive and flourishing, though rarely meeting his friends in the flesh. I turn often to Paul’s letters, both those that are philosophical in nature and those that deal with personal needs and feelings. Like Paul, I am now dependent on maintaining valued friendships not with physical touch, but through printed words. Please help me, Lord, to mold the words I use so others will see their continued importance in my life. May I, like Paul, choose words that will be useful and spiritually uplifting. Amen.