Celebrating Friendship

 My recent trip to Scotland provided gorgeous scenery, unusually sunny weather, moving and thought-provoking worship, an opportunity to live and learn with the Iona Community, and the delights of scones, shortbread, and endless cups of tea.  But even more than that – it allowed me to spend 10 uninterrupted days with my best friend.

            Patti and I grew up within a mile of one another and participated in everything from Brownies to Sunday School to Girl Scout camp, church youth group, and the emotional roller coaster that is high school.  For the last 40+ years we have lived in separate states but have made it a priority to plan at least a quick visit every year so that we could catch up.

            The chance to be together for an extended time was a rare treat.  And the fact that we got to explore a different country and share moments both of laughter and profound spiritual insights was a real gift.

            As little girls we rode bikes and climbed trees together. Now we ruefully acknowledged aging joints and aching knees as we strolled over cobblestone streets and the remote island pathways of Iona. But what a privilege to share all of these years together.

            Some of our conversations looked back. There is an ease talking with someone who shared your childhood. No explanations were necessary as we remembered our parents, meals with each other’s families, building forts in the backyard, dodging my teasing siblings, and sleepless nights during cherished “sleepovers”. There was a lot of laughter and a few poignant moments as we cherished those memories.

            Other times we discussed our children – now adults – as we shared our hopes, worries, and dreams for them in the challenging world they are facing. We acknowledged the challenge of being parents to adults and agreed that it was more fun being the young person embarking on new ventures than being the parent waiting for news.

And then we wondered about “what’s next” in our lives as begin to enter the “senior discount” age bracket. We brainstormed about the future and wondered where our paths would lead us. Wherever that may be, we are sure to offer one another a loving and listening ear and support along the way.  We suspect that many more shared adventures await us!

So today I give thanks for the gift of friendship. In our busy lives it is too easy to lose track of one another or settle for the briefest text to stay in touch. I hope you’ll spend a few moments giving thanks for special friends in your life – and I pray that you’ll be able to call or visit with them soon.

Celebrating friendship

Today I celebrate friendship. In our transient, temporary world, I have a real treasure – a lifelong friend, someone who has known me forever. Patti’s mother and my mother knew each other during their pregnancies, sixty years ago. They dreamed about their children becoming friends and growing up together.

And that’s what happened.

We rode the school bus together, went to Brownies (our mothers were co-leaders), and walked from school to our church for junior choir rehearsal. We rode bikes, climbed trees, and went trick-or-treating. We celebrated birthdays, went to Girl Scout camp, and spent snow days sledding and building snow forts. Our orthodontist scheduled our appointments so we could carpool; we assured one another that the embarrassment of braces would eventually pay off.

We were thrilled to be in the same fourth grade class with an eccentric, fascinating teacher, an older single woman who encouraged us to read, ask questions, travel, and learn. We survived middle school with stories of teachers that still make us laugh. High school included all the usual teenage drama but finally led to graduation.

By then we were ready to try something new so we went to separate colleges. Another friend realized how much we missed each other, so her birthday present to both of us was a bus ticket from my college in Pennsylvania to Patti’s college in Indiana (thanks, Suzanne). Our first college summer was filled with adventures as we worked as camp counselors at beautiful girls’ camp in Wisconsin.

And in the years since then? We have laughed and cried. We celebrated each other’s weddings. We supported one another through divorce, career changes, parenting, unemployment, and great loss.

While we are not yet “old,” we are wise enough to realize that our friendship is a gift. Despite living in different states, we make a point to see one another at least once a year. We started celebrating milestone birthday years – at 40, we traveled to a friend’s vacation home for a weekend getaway, at 50, we relaxed on a weekend cruise from Miami, and last week, to celebrate our 60th birthday year, we spent three days at the King Arthur Baking School in Vermont, learning how to bake pies and tarts.

Because the years seem to be going by more quickly, we’ve decided that we need to step up our birthday celebration game – we’re already thinking about what to do for our 65th.

Friendships change our lives.

Friends, those still living and those who are now a memory, are a gift.

Let us give thanks for friends.Patti 1

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
(Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10, NIV)