Here in this soggy city, I ate Thai food across the table from a friend with whom I shared games of hide and seek when we were just mountain kids. I held a newborn baby boy in my arms, the first child of a dear friend whom I hadn't seen in far too long. I rode a bike to the frigid waters of the Puget sound and let the waves wash over my usually land-locked feet. I chased down a ferry just seconds before it left the dock, and traveled across the waters to explore the streets of Bainbridge Island, with its cafes and book stores and yarn shops filled with sweaters made by old women. I worshipped at a church that is making an effort to reconcile races that remain divided on the south side of the city, and I grinned as I sang along with the songs that make up African American worship. I listened to the chanting and singing of a compline choir in a great cathedral, soaking in the sound alongside a hodge podge multitude gathered on pews and scattered across the sanctuary floor. I talked over coffee about the injustices of the world and the humor of coffee shop culture, and I talked over dinner about the pros and cons of going for that crazy thing called a doctorate. These past few days leave me with much to let ruminate in my heart and mind.
Spending time with such a unique spectrum of friends has left me thinking about the roles we play in the lives of those around us. I am realizing that sometimes I forget to embrace and enjoy the diversity of these roles at times. Granted, there is room for a sort of natural mourning, the subtle sadness that comes when one realizes that time and space simply don't allow for the kind of sharing life I might wish for. At other times, however, the sadness is the result of elevating one kind of role above another, feeling disappointed and frustrated when relationships can't fit into the particular box that makes me feel secure in my importance to someone. How much I miss when I walk in that limited view!
The rich and unique roles we can play in one another's lives are beautiful indeed. I may not even talk to Emily for years at a time, but I will remain forever someone with whom she shared childhood games and joint family camping trips. I may not be the friend Angela goes to when the world comes down or joy overcomes her, but we will always be able to sit down over coffee and feel a sort of contented familiarity, a knitting together of spirits who once shared college days and heart talks. And I may not be the friend with whom Aly has a rich history of tears and laughter and shared experience, but I nonetheless remain that friend with whom she shared a long trek through British Columbian rain. I remain a friend with whom she witnessed the wonder of God's provision of companionship when it is needed most, and with whom she she is knit in a particular area of the heart--a passion for a discipleship marked by compassion and justice and love for the marginalized around us.
I want to learn to appreciate the beauty of this: we are part of one another's stories. God has, in one way or another, allowed us to make a unique mark on each other's lives. And that is beautiful. It is secure even as it remain uncertain how many pages of the tale we may share in the years to come. It is secure in the mighty hands of the master Craftsman: the Author of our lives.