It is a real gift to have time as we prepare to leave, because there is always so much to remember. Cancelling mail and newspaper, packing clothes, bringing medication, printing boarding passes, etc etc.
I am going to spend the week with my best friend from college, Susan, and her family and Audrey will be driving up from Tuscon to be with us for much of the time. As I was preparing to leave I put the final touches on a drama that Wendy Taylor and I will be doing December 3rd at St Andrews Christian Church. It is a drama we have done several times - the story of the friendship - the spiritual friendship - of Elizabeth and Mary.
The first time I performed this was with my friend Mary Wood who was - at that time - pastoring a church 5 miles from my church in Bowling Green. We were (and remain) good friends and I have always felt like her older sister in many ways. What was a blessing for me in that relationship was our sharing the struggles and the joys of pastoring churches as women in the 90's. We were both in the same ministerial group working with some men who did not think that we should be in ministry because of our gender. It was always not only comforting - but strengthening - for me to have Mary with me who was never afraid to speak up about any kind of injustice. We preached together several times - often with her singing too - and I look back on those years with her as just a gift.
Performing with Wendy is also a great blessing. I have known Wendy for twenty years now and remember well when she was an Advance Conference attendee. She has always been a source of life and we have found our way together as true seekers - exchanging books and ideas and lots of conversations. As I look back on our time together over the years, I just feel blessed to witness and support her in her searching as she is always willing to be vulnerable, to struggle, to learn. And at the same time she is the most fun people I know with a laugh that Chuck adores.. We have done book groups together, thie drama and in 3 weeks we lead a retreat together. She is another spiritual friend.
But tonight I will be with my oldest friend - the one who knew me in college and through all of the ups and downs of both of our lives. We have never lived near each other for 45 years but our friendship is now stronger than ever. As I reflect on this gift I realize that it is more than just a shared history and a similar sense of humor. . It is more than we are fellow English majors, both retired and thrilled to be able to be grandmothers. What really has bonded us has been a shared spiritual seeking that has added depth and almost mystery to many conversations we have.
Spiritual friendships have been life giving for me over the years and I am so grateful for the women who have shown up when I needed them and those who continue to stay with me over the years. As I look ahead to this Advent, I do have a sense of giving birth again - I have no clue what that means now. But I am grateful to be able - like Mary traveling to see Elizabeth - to travel on a jet plane to share my story with a long time friend.
I have much to be thankful for.
Here is a blessing - by Maxine Shonk
May the BIRTHING God bless you.
May you find hope and promise in the pains of your labor
and may you know life ever new in each grace that comes to you.
May God be birthed in you with every prayer
and may compassion flower in your every relationship.
May the BIRTHING God be with you.