I spent the better part of last week on a continuing education cruise with a group of revgals. Both the class on hospitality and the connections made with friends (old and new) were phenomenal. I always have a difficult time with re-entry into reality from times away but this, aided by getting nailed with strep throat, has been more difficult than usual. Not only does it a take a few days (weeks? months?) for it to stop feeling like I am on a boat, but my heart misses my friends.
In parish life the boundaries are clear and they are there for a reason, but it can make the life of a minister a lonely one. It is such a tremendous gift to spend a few days with women who not only are wonderful and gifted, but who also get exactly what you do and why you do it. The hugs are genuine and free and the laughter is awesome.
Many of us have friendships - past and present - with these same qualities. And so today we will celebrate Friday with friendship:
1) Do you remember your first best friend? What did you do together? Are they still in your life?
My first best human friend, I'm told, was Susan Glass, and I'm embarassed to admit I remember nothing about her. My first best canine friend was Pogo, and I remember him from pictures. He let me abuse him in the way that only an adoring toddler can, and although I was very young when he died, I think he taught me to love animals and that I need them in my life. I consider the WonderMutt one of his descendants, in a non-genetic kind of way.2) Did you ever have to move away or have your best friend move away from you?
Over and over again. T and I met in college, and we first moved away from one another after graduation. Then she moved to Boston and I moved back home. Then I moved to NC and she moved to TX. Then I moved around in NC (being UM clergy, I'm now pretty well committed to staying in the state) while T went to CO, WA (I think, out there somewhere), and now several different cities in Germany. She keeps threatening to come back to the States, but it's not the right time for that yet. Thanks to the interwebs and her very cheap phone plan, we stay in touch, and she's coming to my graduation in a couple of weeks. Two, to be exact!3) Are there people in your life now that you can call 'friend'?
Many, for which I am very grateful. Some live nearer or farther away, but I'm very happy that one of my friends is moving into the area this summer. It kind of makes up for the one moving farther away, but not entirely.
4) What are some of your favorite things to do with your friends?
Depends on the friend. With some, I just sit around and drink coffee and talk about life. With one, I have a fairly regular 'date' at the local tearoom. I scrapbook with some, or used to, and I work with some. The gift, in my opinion, of my true friendships is that I get to be me, whether me that day is feeling self-conscious and anxious or bubbly and full of myself. I get to say things that need to be said and not have to worry about being tactful. I get to haul out whatever baggage I'm carrying, see how ridiculous some of it is, and leave it behind. And I try to be a true friend to others as well.5) What is a gift friendship has given you?
The sense that I am okay. I've alluded, I think, to some childhood events that are deeply written into my psyche. Some of my friends know about them and others don't, but they all have helped me see myself as normal, whatever that is! And that is a gift beyond price.