Apparently when I was in preschool, my beloved teacher, Mrs. Bishop (I just called her Bishop though, because, well, how could I not?) told my parents in a parent/teacher conference that "Grace is a friend to all." There's a good chance this is a complete lie, but my mom has recalled it so often over the years, that it must have stuck with me that it's an important thing to strive for.
I place being a good friend above many things. Dare I say, most things? Yes, yes I do. Even from my earliest days as a mother, with my babes still in my belly, I would dream up hopes of their love and kindness toward others. I believe there are few things sweeter than good food, good conversation, and good friends.
As with the inside of our house, we've also slowly been working on projects on the outside of our house. By far, my favorite contributions to this include the string of lights around our front porch that Jaron hung for me last Spring and the strings of lights he just hung only days ago on our new pergola in the backyard. For years, anytime I would see lights hanging on a porch or pergola, I would say how much I loved them and wanted them somewhere at our house. It got to be a joke, because Jaron would be like, "Oh, you like those? I've never heard you mention that." Good one, Jar.
I think I love those lights so much because of the ease and beauty in which they hang and flow. They're simple, romantic, and welcoming. They invite the idea of a party, a small gathering of friends. I mean, a little light amidst the dark night is just so lovely, no?
I carried Cora outside the other night, because she was fighting sleep and sometimes the fresh air will calm her just enough to allow her to drift off. As my mama hips swayed back and forth, dancing with the night's gentle Spring breeze, the glow of the new lights sparkling above us, I thought back to late night gatherings with friends; particularly ones we like to refer to as "roof nights." These include some actual gatherings on roofs, and some that just hold the same feel of late-nights-turned-to-early-mornings together with my dearest loved ones, talking about personal wishes and goals, sharing hurts and fears, then laughing until our sides cramp up.
I'm not always a great friend, or even a good one. I get lazy, I make mistakes and say the wrong things, or sometimes I don't say anything at all when I really should. The times I know that I've hurt a friend are etched in my memory forever. The certainty that I've hurt others without even being aware of it also haunts me. But I've come to see this role of friend as a vocation, or calling. I'm in a stage where I find myself often questioning what I'm supposed to do... wondering if this or that is merely an interest or a real, truly life calling (for the love, by the way). But I've decided that being a friend is a forever calling. And I take the call, feeling honored. I also take it selfishly, because gosh, my friends have really sustained me and given so much joy to my life. My people have blurred the lines between friends and family so much that my life is a beautiful watercolor painting at this point.
I'm learning and re-learning, again and again, how to be a friend. Because life is a changin', folks. I'm no longer going to school or working with my best buds. Learning how to love each other well and comfort each other during difficulty feels harder from far away. And even close by. But it's so worth it. Thank you, thank you God, for the gift of friendship. Thinking of all my friends, all my people, who are struggling today. And celebrating. I'm wrapping my arms around your neck, holding space for you in my heart and in my mind. I'm imagining us all under my pergola, making s'mores as the lights twinkle above, and laughing until our sides cramp up.