A decade ago, when I began to seriously pursue my dream of writing books for adults and children, a friend invited me to join a Bath area writers’ group. One of the first gatherings I attended was at the Starlight Cafe, a breakfast grill and sandwich nook.

Over time, a variety of people came and went. The location changed too, but for many years a core group of us met every two weeks in a conference room at the Patten Free Library. We had more fun than anyone should have in a library.

Many nights our laughter rang down the stairwell to the front desk and, likely, out the doors to the parking lot beyond.

Our members included an editor, a loan officer, a beautician, a therapist, a retired newspaper columnist, a market research analyst, a school aide, a college dance instructor and an artist. Between bouts of laughter, we took turns reading aloud whatever project we happened to be working on, sharing feedback and encouragement.

But the encouragement didn’t stop with the writing. When a member’s husband became sick, we listened and empathized. When two had books published and another an essay printed in The New York Times, we celebrated. When my husband and I adopted our daughter from a children’s home in Uganda, friends from the group donated funds and cheered us on. In time, differing schedules put an end to our regular meetings, but we still get together several times a year.

Our ages cover many decades, and we have our differences. But what draws us together is more than what keeps us apart: a genuine desire to support one another and to see each other succeed. As I think of the violent events that have rocked our country and world in recent weeks, I wonder, can we not all do the same?


The same week as the police shooting in Dallas and terrorist attack on Nice, this diverse group of women gathered at my house for tea to celebrate the upcoming publication of my first memoir, which I began with encouragement from these dear friends. Judy brought flowers from her garden; Jeanette, a plate of cookies from her retirement home; Lisa, rushing from work, quiches from a local cafe; Bonnie, two glittering pieces of crystal from her own collection.

Each brought what they had – these tokens of love – and we gathered around a single table to catch up, to laugh, and to eat hot milk cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream. Only after they’d left, did I see the inscription on Bonnie’s gift bag, “If we love one another, God lives in us.”

It was from the same Bible passage that I’d shared with the women’s group at my little Richmond church two weeks before, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love,” I John 4:7-8 (NLT).

Or as has also been said, although the attribution is uncertain, “The most important verse in the Bible is, ‘God is love.’ All the rest is commentary.”

So, here we sit, hearing the news each day of another police shooting, this one in Baton Rouge, of a terrorist attack on a German train. It’s easy to feel isolated and scared, to latch the doors of our houses and our hearts, fearing what may come next.

Yes, there is real evil in this world, and it must be stopped.

But you and me? What if we pledged to support one another despite our differences? To give feedback and encouragement. To listen and empathize. To celebrate the good and cheer one another on. What if we each brought the gifts we had, to share a cup of tea around a single table?

We might be surprised at the friendships that develop, the successes that follow and the lives that are transformed by the love of God. Who knows? We might even have fun.

Meadow Rue Merrill writes and reflects on God’s presence in her life from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. Her memoir, “Redeeming Ruth,” releases in May 2017. Find her at www.meadowrue.com.

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