Today Beve and I are headed south to spend the day with some of our oldest co-friends. By that I mean, they're some of the first friends we made as a couple, people neither of us had previously known. When we were still wet behind the years, and E was only three weeks old, we moved all our wordly goods (which weren't that many, comparatively speaking) into a dorm at Pacific Lutheran University. Beve was a hall director, I was a brand new mom. You see how it worked. We were only one of seven married couples to live in the dorms that year, and one other also had a baby. Of those seven, we became very good friends with three of those couples. By good friends, I mean we ate meals together in the campus dining rooms, had almost weekly get-togethers where we didn't eat in the cafeteria, we swapped war stories and laughed a whole lot together. In fact, we were all together in one of our apartments when E, at not quite 10 months, decided to walk across the living room...and you should have heard the cheers go up from all eight of the adults. E never was the shy type, so she simply grinned and walked across the floor again.
For several years after we all left PLU, we all continued to live in Tacoma, and continued to share meals, evenings, Christmases. We spent time at my family's cabin on Whidbey Island, and went camping together. It was always a party when we were together, especially as our families grew from those original two children to four, then six, then nine and finally the twelve we've settled at.
But as life happens, some of us stayed in Tacoma, and some of us moved. Our kids grew and got busy. We stopped being able to plan our lives because our plans took back seat to our kids' lives. As they do. You know, as they do. So we stopped being in each others' pockets. Stopped knowing the daily events of each others' lives, the decisions, the challenges, the things that make us get gray hair or wrinkled skin. But despite that not knowing, there's a knowing of these people. A deep, visceral knowing that ME is passionate, inappropriate and will always make us laugh and her husband S is a perfect foil to her, a true comic who allows M to be herself and can chuckle over all of it with a sense of timing in his story-telling that I envy, that C has a dry sense of humor and an innate gift with kids (our kids loved to climb all over him!) and a deep belly laugh,, that MB is intelligent, thoughtful and committed to social justice and family, that B has a deep heart for the hurting, as does D, in different ways, but so true. They're all smart, all challenge us to be more and better and really, larger than we are, in the best way. And that each of them bring something to the table as important to us as the bread and wine and pasta we're sure to eat together. These are intentional people about relationships, the world, their corners of it, and the earth. In fact, though the food will be rich and satisfying, the conversation will be more--we'll laugh until we cry, but also, I think, cry together, because there have been things to laugh about since we've seen each other last, but also things to cry about. And these are friends with whom we can certainly do both.
The organic way this community grew--over cafeteria meals and the difficulties of trying to be married, or married with children, in a college dorm--is how community is always best. We can push and work at it, plan and try to manufacture it, but simply doing life together, being in each others' pockets, even, is perhaps what He meant. Isn't it? All things in common, it says in Acts. There have only been a couple of times I've really experienced such organic community, but the sweetness of it has lasted. Like the friendships of these three couples whom we'll share the day with today.
Later: Apparently (according to E), I failed to press publish, so my post didn't post, though I marked it ahead of time. So I have the chance to report how the day actually went.
Exactly as I expected. Good and rich and conversation on top of each other, and...wholly familiar. Back when we were doing life together on a daily basis, we were also all navigating our first or second years of marriage, and it was pointed out today that those marriages took well. Here we are, 26 years later, still happily, gladly married. And each of these people is who I thought they were. Time has changed us, of course. Some have lost a bit of hair on top, others have become a bit more gray (or even white) headed, and there are a few of us with a few pounds to spare now. But our essential selves haven't changed. And that was a great encouragement. We are who I thought we were. We can go a decade without talking, then pick up the conversation as if we'd merely left off to go answer the front door, and 'be back in a minute.' And it was sweet. As sweet as the rolls on the table and the hugs at the door. That's very sweet, indeed.
On another note, wholly unrelated:
My latest quilts, which I post to indulge myself, and those for whom they were made and prayed for. The ministry of these 'prayer' quilts continues to bless me, even as I make them. To do something tangible as I pray helps me focus on one person at a time, and makes each quilt a gift from Him as well as from me. I love making them, though I'll probably never be an expert quilter--ie, with fancy stitches--I just like the stitching of fabric and the praying as I go.
So, a T-shirt quilt for my Appel niece (and I didn't spell that wrong!). T-shirt quilts are ridiculously hard to make for me, though in the end, very satisfying because a puzzle was put together that seemed improbable when the T-shirts were in pieces.
And this is a quilt made from black and white bandanas and reds for my niece SR. She needed a quilt about now--more than I even knew when I was cutting it out. The first photo is of the front, and the second of the back. I really love the back, and SR does to.
A very close friend (well, best friends J & K's oldest daughter) with whom I've always had a special, unique connection is a couple of weeks away from becoming a mother. She and her husband live in Chicago, so I mailed off this baby quilt just a couple days ago for their son. Blessings on all their heads--and the rest of their bodies as well, especially his tiny one! (Sorry it's sideways, I just didn't like how it looked when I turned it!)