She’s here. This is the friend who emerged from the crowd I found myself in when we lived in Honduras, the one who became a lifelong friend. How? Well, she says I won her heart when they put me, the token non-missionary of the group, in charge of a women’s weekend away and I suggested that we do a silent retreat. (The silence that fell in response to my suggestion was answer enough. We did a talking retreat.) I loved her because she always journeyed in with me when I dug deeper with words, when I tried to find out more about what the Hebrew or Greek really meant to say. Plus, she laughed instead of doing a huge double-take with a shocked, pained expression when I accidentally outed myself politically one year on Election Day as, um, not a conservative.
Now she’s here, with her family, and we get to spend Spring Break together. This, to me, is a tiny prelude of Heaven, where I have already put in a request with the Lord to put my house next door to hers. I trust, of course, that in Heaven, we have more than two sides to a house, because I’m planning to live next door to three people so far and I’m holding a couple of spaces open in my mind for future best friends to move into our Heavenly neighborhood.
Always we have worked out the problems each of us face with shared verses, shared books, laughter, listening ears. We are friends because we love Jesus, books, the beach, and wine that falls somewhere between “buy it by the box” and “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” (But way closer to the box than the asking.) I learned how to sit in the ashes with someone from her. Both of us have had ashes that needed to be sat in. And yet we have found the laughter in the midst of the ashes, too.
Her oldest boy made our foreign exchange student feel less foreign, and so welcome, for a time this last summer. Her middle son ate salsa with Einstein when they were tiny boys, and now Ladybug is that age, and Ladybug is entranced with this wonderful boy who keeps being nice to her. My friend’s youngest son entered my life as a whispered confidence way back when, and I think I clapped when she told me about him, or started to clap and stopped when I realized he was still a secret. Anyway, he’s a thrill to me every time I see him.
Last night we sat together with our husbands, eating chili and sipping wine and sharing stories and laughter. Their questions make Honey and me think through things instead of just living life as it comes. Our answers, I think, give them a slightly different perspective than they get at home. Iron sharpens iron, and we don’t even have to get controversial to do it.
She is my hilarious, gentle, artistic, and intro/extroverted friend. I am far richer for knowing her.