Hello! Long time, no see. I’ve been a neglectful blogger lately. My writing time was used to expand one of my articles published previously by Christian Woman Magazine, and I used that to present a talk in a Ladies Retreat in West Virginia. My sister and daughter accompanied me there last weekend. We had a wonderful time of fellowship and fun; so many laughs, hugs and encouragement that I feel recharged and refreshed! I’m not sure we realize, as women in a busy world, that our souls need refilling and refueling on a regular basis. We certainly pour out of them on a regular basis, do we not? I like the slogan on the Alum Creek Ladies Retreat Facebook page, which is “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. That has me thinking about friendship.
There are of course several levels of friendship. There’s the ‘barely know ya’ Facebook ‘friending’ and the ‘so glad to reconnect’ social media friending; there are long-standing work/school/neighborhood relationships that became friendships probably due to simply being there and the frequency of spending time together. Then, there are those unique people from our past who we can see ever so seldom and always feel like we are just picking back up a conversation from only yesterday. You know the kind , who have their ‘only them’ places in your heart. Perhaps it’s the first childhood friend you made (mine is Sandy Perfilio Jordan); or perhaps your high school bestie (enter Janie Hughes Guizlo); and of course the one you lived with as you left home the first time for that adventure called college (Linda Stubblefield Pugh). A different kind of friendship that can only be cultivated through time is that of husband and wife as newly wed days turn into always. He always has my back.
The weekend held for me a buffet of friendships. From the acquaintances that immediately felt like good friends, to the life long cherished friendship that is much more like family. This is the Arthur family of a little place called Bancroft, West Virginia. The mom, Helen, was my baby sitter before my memories begin and the mutual love between her family and mine continues in spite of my mom’s passing and the 450 miles between us. Helen’s daughter Kimberly Holder is my sister in the spirit. We think a lot alike although she is much more thoughtful and humble than I am. I had the privilege of seeing her sister and brother-in-law (Vicki and Whitney Hess) give their live band performance at a little Italian restaurant. Though I never thought Vicki and I to be anything alike with all her talents, I discovered we have one important thing in common: she was more nervous singing in front of her three friends from Kentucky than all the times she has performed before senators, governors, and such. I too, had just had a case of nervous nellies as I spoke before a group of about 170 gals just like myself – living our seasons, doing our best to make each day count. My sister, my daughter and I were treated like royalty. That’s hospitable friendship.
Speaking of sis and daughter, this is another kind of friendship. Kathy, my sister and Stephanie, my daughter are the most supportive loving people you could ever ask for; more than I ever deserve! These close family members are people you can argue with and still come out friends. We must have those with whom we can share tears and confidences, knowing that it goes no further than them. That’s called trust.
My Mama told me once that to have a friend, you have to be a friend. I believe she got that from Proverbs in the bible, where it says “if a man is to have friends, he must show himself friendly”, and it was her answer to a question I asked. I sat down at her kitchen table one morning in the months before her passing and said, “Mama, I don’t know what I’ll do without you. You are my best friend; and I don’t make friends the way you do.” That’s when she said how to be a friend. Hers was a sacrificial, wise and true love friendship.
I enjoy a large church congregation full of friends, many of whom I have no doubt would do anything they could if I needed help. Even there, there are always those two or three with whom you share a special bond. One shares a love for writing and has the most beautiful spirit. Another was a labor patient whose baby I was blessed to catch as he entered the world, making two friends of one! A couple of others whose newborns came at the end of an overtime shift where much bonding takes place are dear to my heart. Camaraderie at its best!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the very special friendship we have in our pets. Pets, especially puppies, bring out a gentleness in us that we start losing at about five years old. I think a three or four-year old would pet a porcupine and sweet talk it if given the chance. I want to be that kind of friend – the one who can love another in spite of the prickly days, the days when you need to be told you are special and not be reminded that it’s due to the quills. Like my puppy, who is always glad to see me come back home, I want to have open arms and heart for those in distress, or with regrets. I think that’s a Jesus kind of love and friendship.
I was blessed today with a visit from my old college roommate. The two of us shared memories and todays’ struggles and brunch. Hers is a non-judgmental kind of friendship, where we can openly discuss family matters and controversial issues with that trust I mentioned earlier. Along with the past weekend, today refilled my cup; I’m refreshed, renewed and refilled. That’s friendship.