"Come over in a bit, and we'll share a pot of tea," Anna called over the fence to Laura, her friend and neighbor. "We'll chat." The wind chilled their ankles and clutched at the jackets they had thrown on for the brief errands in their backyards.
"Let's talk about tangles," Laura said half an hour later, as she shed her coat inside Anna's front door. These two friends often picked a subject and let it carry them along.
"Good topic!" Anna said, smiling, as she led Laura to the kitchen nook where a plate of freshly baked cookies invited them to relax. "Our granddaughter's hair had to be cut because it had tangled so. It had become an ordeal to comb her hair each morning," Anna said as she poured a steaming, silvery stream into her china teapot.
"Most tangles are negative ones," Laura agreed.
"Yes, but not all of them," Anna said. "There's the lacing of my fingers with George's when we take a stroll, or the intertwining of spaghetti on a plate, with sauce poured over it. Those are good tangles." She poured out the tea, and then passed the cookie plate.
Laura nodded. "Or the tangle of my arms with Ginger's just before she goes out the door for another semester of college!" she said, taking a cookie. She tentatively sipped her tea. "I miss her so."
Anna smiled. "I understand. Maria's been married five years, and I still yearn for tangled arms with her. She lives so far away!"
Laura chuckled. "Anna," she said, shaking her head a bit, "Salem is only 45 miles away."
"I know," Anna smiled back, "but it's 45 long miles!"
"Well, with a bit of a drive, your tangled problem can be solved," Laura said, chuckling again.
"Yes, wouldn't it be nice if all our mix-ups were solved that easily?" Anna replied, sipping her tea. "I have a problem at work that is really frustrating. Two of the secretaries have it in for a third, and the boss is letting the situation continue. It's keeping the whole office tense."
"In our family we have a very complicated problem. It's one that Peter spoke about, in which someone had accepted Christ, but then had become entangled again in his old life of sin.* There are so many interwoven threads that we're beginning to feel it can't be sorted out," Laura said.
"Well, don't give up! God can do anything!" Anna refilled Laura's cup. "I have a forsythia bush in the backyard. It has become an ugly mess of new shoots intermingled with the old. I'm going to have to seriously prune it back this year. Otherwise, even when it blooms, it will be just a ragtag of branches."
"A good pruning would help all our negative entanglements," Laura said.
"Mmm!" Anna agreed, smiling. "Hebrews 12:1 speaks about throwing off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. I suppose 'cutting out' would be as good as 'throwing off.'"
"Most of us," Laura said, "could hang a sign around our necks that reads, 'Spiritual pruning needed here!'" She stood. "Thank you for the tea and the tangled conversation."
Anna hugged Laura. "I enjoyed it, too," she said. "Let's pray with each other." With their arms entwined, they bowed their heads to pray over their tangles.
By Sylvia Stewart
* 2 Peter 2:20