The Gift of Deep Friendship

DSC_3589

I’m back from the fourth reunion of childhood girlfriends since 2010. We were born in the same year; three resided in the same neighborhood; our parents were friends; we were raised in the same faith; we know each other’s siblings. We’ve been friends since kindergarten.

Along with all these similarities are differences. Geographic, to be sure. The closest link between any two of us is over 800 miles. We differ in economics, vocations, passions, politics, tastes, theology, and in all the other ways people change.

The thing is that we six were not bff’s growing up. I think the phrase friendship by proximity describes some of our early years. Sometimes we hung out together because that’s who was available. Now that our friendship has come of age, we are repeating stories! (We = me, sigh…)

April 20171

This treasure, these friendships, are more precious to us than diamonds. Other than checking our phones and taking calls from husbands and children, our time is unplugged. We don’t watch movies; we don’t go shopping (except for groceries). It is time to attend, to be present, to listen, to share, to truly know each other. We laugh and guffaw, we cry (even the non-criers among us), we eat, we swim, we sing.

We established a protocol at our first reunion that we always follow. We could (and do) have a fabulous time cooking communally, grabbing a cuppa, letting the conversation meander like a river. But eventually we have a formal time of focus. One friend shares her heart: what’s good, what’s hard, what’s changed, what’s real. This is a time of transparency and trust. We take notes, ask questions. It can also be a time of discovery, when the perception of girlfriends translates truth we didn’t before see. Then we pray, asking God to help, to intervene, to strengthen, to bless our friend. Then we sing the songs we grew up singing that are imprinted on our souls. Rinse and repeat.

DSC_3769

These friendships are for each of us a bonus. We all have sisters — not just sisters, but close sisters with whom we regularly share our lives and hearts.

Two stories. Meeting in the airport has always been an exciting moment. We’re giddy and goofy and garrulous. This year, however, Ruth’s father died the Monday before our gathering. She drove to Virginia on Tuesday, buried him on Thursday, and flew out to Phoenix on Saturday. My plane arrived five minutes before hers. I parked myself in front of the gate to welcome her. Sitting at the back of the plane, she was one of the last passengers to deplane. Seeing each other we burst into sobs, running into a hug. It was a spectacle, but we didn’t care. All our griefs to share.

Eileen’s plane came in later than the others. Nancy’s sister Kathy picked her up from the airport. Eileen didn’t want to inconvenience her. Are you kidding? Kathy replied. When we were first married, we flew to Chicago, but couldn’t rent a car because I was under 25. We called my mom in Phoenix and asked her what to do. She told us to call your (Eileen’s) dad. We called him, he dropped everything and drove to O’Hare to pay for our rental. I am only too happy to give you a ride. More tears, and the gift of an previously unknown story about her dad.

One evening the Gibson sisters joined us for an old-fashioned hymn sing. I guess reading the lyrics on your phone wasn’t old-fashioned! Those girls (ahem, women) can SING!! Lots of nostalgia and gorgeous harmonies and rejoicing in a heritage of music.

After four girlfriend gatherings, I remain astonished at the profound transforming power of this deep friendship. It has all the hallmarks of grace: unexpected, unearned, unsought, undeserved.  Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.

Our 2010 Reunion
Anticipating 2010 Reunion

27 Summer Benedictions

DSC_0244

My summer has included grief, groans, and groping in the dark.
Same as you.
So this is not intended to be an episode of ‘my beautiful life’.
It is my retrospect of benedictions as I press onward.

DSC_0290

:: Farmer grandson in line to show his sheep at Stock Show ::

DSC_0772

 :: experimental gardening  growing Brussells Sprouts ::

DSC_0380

:: captivating clematis ::

DSC_0695

:: Mint, juice of one lime, Truvia, ice, and water ::

DSC_0359

:: her hair reminds me of a Fibonacci spiral ::

DSC_0368

:: halfway through The Pat Conroy Cookbook – a good book for foodies ::

DSC_0384

:: garlic scapes and wood rounds ::

DSC_1849

:: the moments before Susan from Munich arrived ::

DSC_2251

:: anniversary camping trip, Curt reading Shop Class as Soulcraft ::

DSC_2418

:: Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge ::

DSC_2555

:: reminds me of Hank, the Cowdog ::

DSC_2663

:: glory, glory, glory!! a surprise sibling reunion! ::

DSC_2741

:: Chris & Jessie’s table set for an extended family dinner ::

DSC_2766

:: Who knew 80 could look so glamorous? ::

DSC_0438

:: this girl, our youngest grand, lives life with zest ::

DSC_0440

:: moving up the ladder ::

DSC_0470

:: breakfast with Jack & Stacia, who mentored Curt in his teen years in Los Angeles ::

DSC_0596

:: harvest golden tones ::

DSC_0561.JPG

::   Papa cheesing it up with our Seattle grandsons ::

DSC_0675

:: Fair is where you take the hogs in August ::

DSC_0781

:: my ongoing magnet project — thank you, Shutterfly! ::

DSC_0716

:: last year I saved zinnia seeds. My frugal self is exultant. ::

DSC_0744

:: squash blossoms, garlic and cilantro from the garden; the makings of quesadillas ::

DSC_0768

:: teddy bear doubling as a pillow ::

DSC_0803

::  day is done (pinching myself that we live here)  ::

DSC_0828

:: chipmunk visiting during my day of silence and solitude ::