Wednesday, May 11, 2011

the gift

Sometimes, for some period of your life, you get a gift. A gift so good that you can't explain what it means to you, or why you received it, and so comfortable in that era that you may not recognize the richness of the gift until it is farther away from you and impossible to recreate.

I wasn't too cool in high school. I liked it well enough, but I didn't walk down the halls every morning with tons of friends, and sometimes I felt lonely. And through luck and grace and that magic confluence of time, place, and personality, I found myself belonging to part of a group of friends whose presence in those high school years have left an indelible mark on my heart and my character. I can hardly think of these people and these memories without a welling up of emotions, thinking of how I was so in the middle of that gift as a 17 year-old high school junior, and I didn't even know it. these people are still some of my very best friends, and we are entering into a totally new phase together now, with the first baby of the group on the way.

but those times - the nights outside around a bonfire, sitting in someone's basement - kaitlin's to draw on the walls, cook's to play silent football or the sign game, randi's after a dance or taking communion together in our earnest attempts to learn to live into the church - the school dances that we all attended together, switching dances and making long-living memories, the first sadness of some going off to college, and the making our way through the ending of high school and into a new life. the visits to california and back to chicago, trips to michigan and camp and long summer nights drinking beer outside and welcoming new members as the weddings started happening. those times have defined me and now, ten years later, those times bring tears to my eyes.

some of us are still very much part of the faith in which we all grew up, and some of us have questions and thoughts that are drawing them down different roads. some of us are married, some of us are not, one of us will be, very soon. but here's the thing: there was safety in this group. there were lovely friendships in which deeply vulnerable conversations took place. there were young men and women who learned that good, healthy friendships between men and women are not only possible, but are life-giving in really unique ways. There was, perhaps more than with any other people in our lives, a sense that we were all truly known and truly loved, even as we revealed flaw after flaw. We had each other, and for a time, that was all that mattered.

now, we don't have what we once did. we have weddings, and several years back, we had a funeral. we have facebook and pictures and email, which are nice but are poor substitutes for what we know we share. but we still share the goodness of it all, that thing that unites the memories we have and makes them real and relevant, that gives them flesh and the ability to, even now, transform us and remind us of who we really are.


Anonymous said...

Amen. I have that snap shot as well from a defined period of my life. Thank you God for that gift. A true communion of the saints.

jmcd said...

miss you

Shauna said...

Lovely. Really.

josiahlamz said...

time must have stood still for a good part of '00-'02. how else were these life-changing and life-giving friendships forged?

well captured, lo. grateful to share in these memories, these feelings. hopeful that they are not once-in-a-lifetime.