Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ode to Friends (an indulgence)

One of the greatest blessings in our lives has been our friends. Both my spouse and I have been blessed with people who hear our heart songs; people who can understand and speak our language, get our sense of humor, poke and prod us to have adventures, inspire us to create, and keep us honest by being honest with us and sane by balancing out our quirks with theirs.

My spouse and his best friend have been buds since they were three years old. When we started dating in high school, they were a package deal and we became the three musketeers. At first, I was a little jealous of their bond. It was like they spoke in code and always referred to inside jokes. But the more time I spent with them, the happier I was in their presence. If Matthew and Steven were going to the driving range, I went too. If Matthew and I were going to dinner and a movie, Steven went too. Soon, I learned the code and was privy to the inside jokes. I enjoy my spouse the most when he is with his best friend and revel in the hilarity that inevitably ensues.

Unfortunately, Steven lives 2005 miles away.

This weekend, a friend from our college days will come stay with us. He knows about those tender, tumultuous times before our engagement when life was without obligations and we were free from making hard choices, but struggled to define who we were in the world as individuals. When we are around Krishna, we are more carefree and fun-loving. We can't wait to play and reminisce with him after he travels 471 miles to get here.

Likewise, my friends bring out the best in me. Lately, three friends have especially been in my heart. My lifelong best friend, Cara invited me to speak at her beloved church camp this week about the Good Samaritan. I feel honored to have been asked and thrilled that I got to go. This camp has been a spiritually significant place for my friend since she was in high school. It was a joy to finally see the lush forest, the rustic cabins and lodge, and gravel roads that nurtured her spirit for so long.

Cara is soon to live 471 miles away.

Then there is Hannah. Over the past few days, my spouse and I have been nesting. We bought our home last summer, moved in last October and we are just now hanging art on the walls, painting doors, and reinstalling switch plates. She would be all over this. At our old house, while we were at work Hannah would pop in (usually tripping the alarm in the process) and rearrange furniture, decorate, and leave little suggestions on post-it notes in odd nooks and crannies for me to find. We would say prayers over cups of coffee and chocolate chip cookies, trade left-overs, and sing silly, punny songs. As my first adulthood friend, we shared the growing pains of transitioning out of adolescence together. We used to be neighbors, but she's never been to our new house and it breaks my heart.

Hannah now lives 2223 miles away.

Carmen is becoming an ordained Episcopal priest this weekend. She has worked long and hard to be at this special moment in time where she can fully step into her call to do God's work. It has been amazing to learn from her process of hearing a call into ministry, the commitment it takes to get there, and the healing power of helping others. From a distance of 963 miles, I saw grace enter her life to mend old wounds and open new doors. I am so proud of her and can't believe I won't be there to celebrate with her.

One of the cornerstones of our marriage is the effort we make to keep in touch with friends who live far away and those who are right here in our town. Within our marriage, we save space for others in our hearts to enrich our own relationship. Maybe that comes out of being interfaith. We've grown accustomed to letting in the other and our attitude reflects the more-the-merrier mentality we have. Helping each other nurture these friendships makes our marriage more enjoyable and strengthens our own marital friendship.

Having long distance friendships is hard, but when we see special places in our long distance friends' lives, it makes us feel closer to them. When we're on the phone with them and their at their local coffee shop in the morning, we can almost smell the grounds brewing. When a friend is lounging on their couch chatting about potty training, I can feel the squish of the couch cushions and hear the pitter patter of little feet running across blond hardwood floors. In our mind's eye, we are there with our friends. I am grateful for the opportunities we have this summer to see many of our friends and wish there were more chances sooner than later.

To our friends: We miss you and love you!

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