One of the sweetest gifts one can receive in life is the joy of friendship. Though he didn't necessarily have friendship in mind, the words of Chile's nobel-prize winning poet Pablo Neruda still proves helpful; friendship does to the heart what "spring does with the cherry tree." What exactly does spring do to a cherry tree you ask? It causes it to blossom. A good friend has the unique ability to not only be a great companion, but also to be the very agent through whom you metamorphose into a radiant and flourishing human being.
Living through a global pandemic has changed work, play, family, and rest. One aspect of life possibly impacted the most is that of friendship. Like many I am thankful for the technology at our disposal that connects us to almost anyone, anywhere, at any time. But when a phone call is all you have, the heart seems to long for more. It's one thing to hear crying on the other end of the phone, it's another to see a stream of tears flowing from the eyes of a friend, sliding off their cheeks, and hitting the ground beneath you.
Like many I've tried innovative ways to sustain & energize my friendships, yet I still felt a desire for more. Then a friend I hadn't spoken to in years reached out and asked if we could meet at a park. We sat six–feet apart as he recounted all the amazing places he'd traveled working for one of the most popular singer-songwriter/rappers in the world. The stories he shared were jaw-dropping, but I couldn't help but think to myself "I miss this." I miss seeing my friends in person, I miss hearing the excitement as they share what God is doing in their lives, but most importantly I miss being with them "live." Not "live" in the sense that we're recording live, but live in the sense that if I throw my phone in their direction, it will hit them in the chest because they are present with me.
In football the place you want to be is in the end zone, because that's where the points are scored. After catching up with my friend, that park has now become my "friend zone." It's where I go to celebrate what God is doing in the lives of my friends; it's where prayers are offered and where hopes and dreams are shared. Sadly, I don't make it to my "friend zone" as much as I would like, and truth be told I have much to learn about being a better friend. But I've learned that experiencing the joys of the friend zone requires that I first reach out to others. In this I not only learn more about friendship, but I also learn about the God who first reached out to me in his son Jesus and has become a friend who sticks closer than a brother. The friend I always wanted but didn't know I needed.
This blog is part of a series reflecting on Tish Harrison Warren's book, Liturgy of the Ordinary. Our strange times are the furthest thing from ordinary, but her book explores the transformation that happens in the daily, monotonous rhythms of our lives. As many of us feel stuck doing all of life at home, we are reminded of how all of life is worship.