Family and friends have been much on my mind lately. Mother and Daddy were notified a few weeks ago that an apartment in a senior citizen complex here in Laramie had opened up and would be available the first of May. Even though we have talked about it for several years, when the opportunity to move actually came, it was a whole new level of seriousness. Born and raised in the same town, living in the house Daddy built for 48 years, (which is not more than a half mile from their own childhood homes), it is a scary proposition for them to contemplate moving. One day it was "we've moving;" the next, it was, "we're staying." At times it seemed like my sister, Joanie, and I were tag teaming as we tried to help them lay out the pro's and con's. We want this to be their decision and agree that whatever way they choose we can support them and help them to have the best possible living situation. And so, it is that they are moving to Laramie in late May and will try it out until August when leases must be renewed for a year. I am very excited to have them closer and look forward to sharing some fun times and meals with them. We will all make some changes and that may well be the most invigorating and life-giving part of the move for them.
Friends have been much on my mind, too. A couple of weeks ago I met, Mel, one of my ol' college roommates and sorority sisters for lunch in her town. We lingered over coffee for several hours until the restaurant manager asked us to leave, so they could clean up and close. It is good to have someone to share the ups and downs of aging parents, troubled kids, the importance of a bible study. Laughter, tears, empathy and understanding that go back more than 40 years. Another long weekend my friend, Laurie, was here. She is the very active friend who is always ready for a hike or in this case, a half-day snowshoeing in the Snowies. The Libby Creek trail always seems to be up hill going out and up hill coming back. But it was a glorious day--so warm we didn't need gloves, hats or jackets. She and I also spent a good bit of time watching movies, basketball games, and arranging some new pictures from my sabbatical. Laurie always encourages me to stay in shape, set goals, play hard and work hard. Then a newer friend was here last weekend. Abby in quite a lot younger than I, so she introduces me to new music, new technology and new comediennes. Always lots of fun mixed with some serious talk about jobs, vocations, relationships.
Friends--cherished old ones who have been with me through the thick and thin places, and in the moment new ones I'm just getting to know--are so very important to living in healthy, whole and holy ways. Some have earned the right to offer advice and criticism because they are worthy of trust. Even at my most unlovable they still love me and desire good for me and from me. And then there is the most amazing thing of all--Jesus says to his disciples (and so to us), "I do not call you servants any longer...but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father." Just think of that, friends with Jesus, friends with God. When I am down on myself I am encouraged by this promise and then I am able to step back and consider what it means to also be a friend to my self.
Eleanor Roosevelt put it like this, "Friendship with oneself is all-important because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world." And in a more contemporary way, Anne Lamott says a similar thing, writing, "Awareness is learning to keep yourself company. and then learn to be more compassionate company, as if you were somebody you are fond of and wish to encourage."
And so on this my sabbath day, I will befriend myself with a walk up the street to see the foxes at dusk, a great dinner, a good glass of wine and a good night's rest. And to you, gentle reader, wherever you are, remember that real friendship transcends time, place and regularity. Consider our friendship worthy of a God who dares to call each one of us, "friends."