Sunday, September 24, 2006
Seasons of Friendship
The women's retreat I attended today was really wonderful. Lead by Marjory Zoet Bankson, the retreat was entitled "Seasons of Friendship." (also the name of one of her books). The study is modeled after the story of Naomi and Ruth, who were mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Both had been widowed and were pretty much at the end of their stories, or so they thought. Ruth refused to leave her mother-in-law, Naomi and travels with her to her old home place. It's a very interesting story that can be found in the book of Ruth (a short book) in the Old Testament of the Bible.
Dr. Bankson lead us through the different seasons of friendship experienced by Naomi and Ruth, both with each other and with others. With each season she let us break into very small groups and tell of a person in our lives who fit that particular seasonal description.
I do not always enjoy things like this, being slightly self-conscious and shy, but I decided today that whatever she suggested I would do wholly. I loved every moment of it and got to know better some women I already thought I knew and even got to enjoy some time with women I had never had the chance to speak with.
It was wonderful to recall how friends were gifted to me along this journey of my life. Some people came to mind who were surprises to me. I hadn't thought of them as friends but surely they were friends for a brief moment in time. I also remembered what a friend my very own Tim was to me at a time when I wasn't really fit for friends. He didn't care. He saw beyond what I was allowing myself to become at the time. He saw a "shiny heart" (his words back then) that was hidden and blackened. He felt it just needed cleaned up. He was right. It's pretty shiny now, thanks to his encouragement which lead to other things, like going back to church and making other friends and oh so many wonderful things for which I forget all too often to be grateful.
I also thought of many of you. While we may not be able to look each other in the eye or give a hug in the flesh, you are certainly my friends and you affect my soul deeply. I am grateful for you. I am grateful for the comraderie, the encouragement, the questions that challenge me to look deeper and just the fun that we have.
Today I experienced a deepening of faith as the things we learned in the retreat seemed to bind up the various facets of my life and make them more cohesive. There has been a spirituality missing from my life that is often very difficult to find in church. That must sound odd to some, but often we (or at least *I*) focus so much on the heady stuff of scripture and tradition that I lose sight of the Holy Spirit..SPIRIT part of it all. I get hungry for it and am drawn by those who I find exhibiting its attributes. I was thrilled today to be reminded that this wonderful Spirit I am so attracted to in others is the same Holy Spirit who flows through us and guides us and expresses itself through us to one another. That's what makes friendship so important and so wonderful.
I am not trying to preach a sermon. :) I am not even talking about religion. I think the Spirit crosses many lines that we often are uncomfortable allowing it to cross. I think that we may even call this Spirit different things, yet allowing it to enter our hearts and minds is healing to our souls and brings about the same results...faith, hope and love. I am so happy to be mixed up with so many wonderful women and to witness the drawing together of souls who have been through different experiences and lead very different lives in different countries and yet come together for mutual comfort and encouragement.
I want to bring this same sense of sisterhood into my church family. I heard many voices today expressing this same hunger for deep, meaningful and intimate relationships with other women. We questioned the difficulty. How could it be so difficult? What are we missing? I hope to help answer these questions and to help build this sisterhood. It's an exciting thought and perhaps a bit of a calling.
Thank you so much my sister-friends! I hope you know how much I value you. (It's really hard to explain to non-bloggers..they sort of just looked at me like I was speaking of befriending little green men). :)
Much love and peace to you.