Where Two, Where Three

Image: Kinfolk © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Year A, Proper 18/Ordinary 23/Pentecost +13: Matthew 18.15-20

Five years ago, on Labor Day weekend, the love of my life asked me to marry him. I was on Tybee Island, Georgia, with a group of my girlfriends from seminary who get together every year at this time. Gary had booked a concert in nearby Savannah that same weekend, and my friends and I drove over to see him. The concert hall was already packed when we arrived, but we managed to find a few seats near the back. Halfway through the concert, in front of a few hundred people and these dear friends, Gary jumped off the stage, ran the length of the hall to where we were sitting, and asked me to spend my life with him.

I was with these friends again this Labor Day weekend. In the midst of my sorrow, it was sweet beyond measure to be with this circle of women who hold this memory for me. I was thrilled to learn that one of my friends still had photos on her camera from the morning after the proposal, when they invited Gary over to the Tybee house for a celebratory brunch. (You can see one of those treasured photos below.)

In the wake of Gary’s dying, I cannot say I have become any more clear about what Jesus means when he says, in this week’s gospel reading, “If two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” But I can tell you that when Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them,” I see this circle of friends who have enfolded me in times of deepest joy and keenest sorrow, bearing the presence of Christ in their midst.

Where Two, Where Three
A Blessing

Take my hand
and you will see
how this blessing
finds its way
to us
not as if
we each held
a piece of
its puzzle

but as if
it cannot resist
this space that opens
between us,
this place that is made
where we two meet,
where we three touch,
where we gather

with our eyes
with our hearts
with our hands
one to another

and on our lips
the name of Love,
all the blessing
we need ever


For a previous reflection on this passage, click the image or title below.

For What Binds Us
For What Binds Us

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Kinfolk,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (This is also available as an art print. After clicking over to the image’s page on the Jan Richardson Images site, just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section.) Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

8 Responses to “Where Two, Where Three”

  1. Ruth Williams Says:

    The painting, the prayer and the picture. All three are perfection. Thank you for sharing these gems!

  2. Marjun Blishen Says:

    Thank you for your words and the sharing of such precious memories. I so enjoy your art and your sermons. It’s good to hear from a woman about our faith. I am a Lutheran Christian and live near Vancouver, BC, Canada. Grieving a loved one is a challenging journey. May you feels God’s presence with you.

  3. Sue Peterson Says:

    What a beautiful memory and picture to cherish. I think sometimes the whatever we want is whatever we need—sometimes it isn’t all that we want, but it sustains us and helps us move forward. You are certainly blessed–and Gary was blessed to have been in love with a woman who nurtured the best in him, while he supported her with songs and music that embrace the Holy Spirit.

    Life with exchange students has kept me busy the past few weeks, along with a trip to Michigan–but I do want to talk about Wellspring one day soon, and share some insights and visions I had this summer. Blessings in Christ, Sue P.

  4. Maureen Says:

    Gorgeous post, Jan. May peace be with you always.

  5. Tanda Ainsworth Says:

    Thank you, Dear Jan, for sharing that beautiful picture and your reflections. You and Gary remain in my heart and in my prayers. I am grateful you have such dear friends to accompany you on this journey of grief.

  6. Sherry Elliott Says:

    Thank you for the sharing of your journey. Openly you walk with each of us. Openly you share your life. It is a one sided sort of affair we have. But, in this one way please know, prayers are said for you. In your days and nights feel the cradle God has made for you in the palm of God’s hand. Peace.

  7. Jan Richardson Says:

    Friends, thank you so much for your beautiful comments; they are manna on this journey. I am so grateful for your words, your prayers, your thoughtfulness. Bless you!

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