Daily Reflection — the healing force of Friendship

special friends

I wrote this about a month ago, and share it as I continue to share my journey as a person walking through grief together with God, and with each of you.

Friends love all the time, and kinsfolk are born for times of trouble. — Proverbs 17:17

There are persons for companionship, but then there are friends who are more loyal than family. — Proverbs 18:24

As iron sharpens iron, so friends sharpen each other’s faces. — Proverbs 27:17

Rumi says that “when two beings come together, Christ becomes visible … Friend sits by Friend, and the tablets” of revelation “appear. They read the mysteries off each others’ foreheads … This is the force of Friendship. What draws friends together does not conform to laws of nature”. This sense of the power of friendship, the value of friends is something I am re-discovering through my time of loss and grief.

This weekend I spent time with an old friend from college, Nola.   On the surface it was to do something my wife made possible – she had won tickets to the Carolina Panthers game.   I still remember the day she won those tickets. We had been shopping for a new wheelchair for her, some two weeks before she passed.   We had found one we later realized was a lemon and had to return. We stopped at a Rudino’s we never ate at, the other side of Raleigh which is a few towns away from us. The local rock station was giving out a lot of promotional stuff – free beer, t-shirts, and a drawing for tickets to the upcoming Panthers game.   I felt goose pimples all over my body, like I sometimes do when in church, prayer, or meditation I’m having a spiritual experience. Its one of those moments when usually I look back and realize Spirit is saying to me “pay attention. You need to notice and remember this. You are on holy ground now”. Well my wife put her name in the drawing. You have to understand, my wife never won things.  But she immediately won the drawing. She turned to me, love in her eyes, and told me she was winning the tickets for me.

When she passed, I almost gave up the tickets. But then I remembered that look in her eye – and that feeling of goose-pimples. I knew I needed to try and go.

This led me to talk to Nola, and ask if I could crash at her place and head over. Nola is a long-time friend but we hadn’t spent much time together the last several years.   Well, as things happened, we never got to the football game. The morning of the game, we went to breakfast and the tickets fell out of my pocket. When we called around the places we had been, no one said they found the tickets.  But I don’t feel that is what the trip was about, because it was healing to me.

Nola, like me, is going through her own kind of grief.   Just a few years ago she married the woman of her dreams. She was deeply in love. Like me, her wife opened up whole new worlds of understanding for her. But unlike my wife, hers was not faithful. And their marriage ended.   She’s now learning the life of a single person again, and a few more years into it than me.

So I spent the weekend talking to a good friend who could really relate with the mixture of gratitude for the gifts that love has left me, but also the deep grief of saying goodbye to someone you love who cannot be there for you anymore.   Neither of us are big fans of football and I just have a feeling the same Spirit that gave me goose-pimples, and the idea to try to see my friend this weekend with these tickets, had a hand in them disappearing. Because I needed the deep conversations, the laughter the tears, this friend could give me. It was so healing.

To be honest I began this weekend a wreck. I was in tears, realizing it was now a month since my wife left me, not for another woman like dear Nola’s, but into the other world where her pain and sorrow was gone. It hurts to be the one left. It hurts to not see her face. To remember seeing her face, but empty of her, lifeless.

Nola’s friendship, her laughter, her stories, her compassion… it was the voice of God for me this weekend.  As she shared how she went through her own grief, loss, and has begun to sieze life again, I saw hope in my on situation that grief and loss are not God’s final word.

I can relate so with Rumi’s words, which like my own, come from great loss. In his case, the tragic loss of Shams who either was his closest friend, his lover, or (as with Kat and me) both.   Nola joins a group of many who are being great friends to me right now, friends whose love and care I feel I have done nothing to deserve. It is unearned grace that embraces me, a reminder that it is from love we are born and enter this world, it is in love we are held, carried, grow, & evolve, and it is to love we return as my dear Kat has returned.   Those who have been the friends who have shown up, who have answered my calls and texts, who have not left me alone, they have been the hands of God holding me up, the voice of God whispering in my ear, the presence of God showing me I am not alone.

Most of the time now I can sense this even alone, but there have been moments I couldn’t without my friends by side.   Sometimes the pain is all I have felt, the loss all that is before my eyes.

These friends, like Nola and so many, are the shining light breaking into my darkness, letting me know I am ok, and can get through this.

Their friendship to me is so pictured by the words of the great Guy Clark song, “Stuff That Works”:

“I got an ol blue shirt and it suits me just fine
I like the way it feels so I wear it all the time
I got an old guitar, wont ever stay in tune
I like the way it sounds in a dark and empty room

I got an ol pair of boots and they fit just right
Well I can work all day and I can dance all night
I got an ol used car and it runs just like a top
I get the feelin it aint ever gonna stop

Stuff that works, stuff that holds up
The kind of stuff you dont hang on the wall
Stuff thats real, stuff you feel
The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall

I got a pretty good friend whos seen me at my worst
He cant tell if Im a blessing or a curse
But he always shows up when chips are down
Thats the kind of stuff I like to be around

Stuff that works, stuff that holds up
The kind of stuff you dont hang on the wall
Stuff thats real, stuff you feel
The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall

I got a woman I love shes crazy, paints like God
Shes got a playground sense of justice, she wont take odds
I got a tattoo with her name right through my soul
I think everything she touches turns to gold

Stuff that works, stuff that holds up
The kind of stuff you dont hang on the wall
Stuff thats real, stuff you feel
The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall

Stuff that works, stuff that holds up
The kind of stuff you dont hang on the wall
Stuff thats real, stuff you feel
The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall”

I thank my God for you, dear friends, who have seen me at my worst.   Yet you are still ones that that I have been able to reach out to when I fell.  May all you, my dear readers, find such ones in your life.

Your progressive redneck preacher,

Micah

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