The past week began and ended on a note of friendship – and friendship was woven throughout the week. Dense as I am, I think that even I should perhaps pay attention to the theme the Composer orchestrated.
It began with a breakfast with men I have, for the most part, not seen for about 18 months due to work obligations. I wanted to see those men, I missed them – and on my end it was as if I’d just seen them last week, we picked the conversation right up where it was 18 months ago. When I left the breakfast I was refreshed, it was as if I’d been bathed with living water – pure and sweet and radiant. The subject of our breakfast discussion? Friendship.
On my way to the breakfast I called a friend with whom I speak at least twice a week, sometimes more. He lives a few hours away and we seldom see each other, but we talk and we share and we pray and we share our joys and burdens – and oh, we laugh a lot and tell each other tall tales. I left him a voice mail message. By Friday I hadn’t received a call back, which is highly unusual. On Saturday morning I thought about calling a mutual friend in his area to see if he’d heard from him – for they typically see or talk to each other every week.
During my morning prayer time, both with Vickie and my solitary prayer time, I pray for friends and their families. During the past few weeks I’ve been strongly impressed to pray for two couples on a daily basis – I don’t pray for all my friends on a daily basis, but I do pray for all of my friends on an ongoing basis. These two particular couples have now been added to my daily prayer time and have been deeply “on my heart” for a few weeks. One couple lives in Massachusetts and the other in Florida; I haven’t seen either couple for a few years. Two weeks ago I called both couples, one answered the phone and we had a sweet time of catching up – as a result of that phone call Vickie and I have a very specific thing to pray for on their behalf. The other couple didn’t answer the phone and I didn’t receive a call back as I usually do. Throughout the week I was conscious that they hadn’t called back.
On Monday I received a voice mail from a friend whom I haven’t seen in about ten years. Even though we haven’t seen each other for such a long time our friendship has taken on a special meaning in the past two years as he walks through a challenging season of life. We’ve had many phone conversations in which my role has usually been to listen, ask questions, and pray. Sometimes I’ll have observations to make and sometimes I won’t. I wasn’t able to return his call until Thursday; during this phone time he said, “You know, I never imagined that our friendship would become what it is – I had no idea”. This friendship began when I asked for his help with learning Greek in seminary; that led us to meeting regularly for prayer and reflection; that led us to time with our spouses; and friendship grew.
On Tuesday I had lunch with a friend who I see at least once every two weeks for coffee or lunch. We’ve known each other for over twenty years and have been friends for most of that time – our relationship grew into friendship. At lunch he shared something with me that happened to him that morning, and even though he tried to downplay the incident, I knew better, I knew because he is my friend. After lunch I called Vickie and shared the substance of our lunch conversation because he is also Vickie’s friend and I knew she’d want to know and to pray. This particular issue was a matter of intense prayer for Vickie and me – as we prayed together and individually. On Thursday morning I called this friend to see how he was doing and rejoiced to hear that the troubling issue had been favorably resolved. That evening Vickie and I had dinner with my friend and his wife (also a friend!).
On Friday I had coffee with another friend. While Vickie and I have recently seen this friend, I hadn’t had any in-depth discussion/catching up time with this friend in a very long time. Driving home after our coffee I reflected back on my Monday breakfast and its focus on friendship and it struck me how friendship had been front-and-center all week.
On Saturday Vickie and I took a daytrip; it was a holiday open house tour of historic homes along the Rappahannock River. During the day we talked about my two phone calls that hadn’t been returned yet, and I said that when we got home I’d either call or email to see how our friends were doing. During the day my cell phone received two voice mails – one was from my Massachusetts friend giving an update and explaining why it had taken a few days to return my call, and the other was from my other friend, who lives in Virginia, explaining why it had taken him a few days to return my call. On the second voice mail (my Virginia friend) I think there may be more to the story because, after all, he is my friend and I can usually tell when there is something else going on. I’ll call both these friends back, one I’ll call today (Sunday) and the other tomorrow. I know their schedules and I know the good times to call.
It was great to end the week with a day out with my best friend – my wife.