I’ve been thinking about how friendship blooms.
We met in winter, in a small group on Sabbath and Simplicity, seven souls in a church library every Thursday night, warmed by a finicky gas heater, warmed by each other’s words.
She joined the group because she was recruited by someone else who had signed up, turned out to be too busy, and didn’t want to leave that space unfilled.
Arriving from a day of work or school (or both), after settling and greeting, we began with 10 minutes of silence. We discussed the reading assignments, and read aloud from our writing assignments, and prayed for one another. We grinned when our quiet minutes coincided with, thus amplified, the closing recitation of the 12-step group meeting across the hall, the Lord’s Prayer segueing into their enthusiastic tagline: “… for thine is the kingdom, and the
I don’t understand how this is so, but habitually sitting in comfortable silence with people cultivates a kind of tenderness, a respectfulness, a kind of love.power, and the glory forever. Amen. Work the program; it works if you work it!”
I am certain if I saw any of those people now, we would be glad to run into each other, and we’d spend a moment catching up, and probably part with a hug. But for most of us, that association was for a season. She was the only one I maintained a friendship with, the kind where you can go for a year or more and then pick right up.
She was my first dinner guest when I moved to a new home. She brought bread and cheese, and I let her help wash dishes. She returned the favor — both dinner and communal dishwashing — at her home. Our times together always involved food, good talk, and prayer.
She eventually moved into an apartment in my neighborhood, and we could see each other’s balconies. When I went overboard at a mums sale, I potted three and took them to her and watched them bloom from afar.
We last saw each other last winter, at breakfast at her place. I tried kumquats for the first time. This state wasn’t her home, and the yearning to go grew in her over time. I learned of the move on Facebook, the so-happy photos of her driving west, and then arriving. And now she’s blooming in the desert.
There’s no grand, profound point here. Just thoughts about the trajectory of a friendship. That last breakfast together, right before Christmas, she gave me a cactus. It has apparently decided to be an Advent cactus instead of a Christmas cactus this year.
I’ve been thinking about friendships, and how they start, the scattered seeds that take root. About dormant periods. About what abides.