Sometimes, a 30+ year long friendship is measured in small acts of faithfulness. I’ve spent over an hour trying to make paragraphs do justice to years and I just can’t. Plain and simple, I met two boys just out of high school when I was in my mid 20’s. I saw those boys- I saw right down to their tender hearts, in one of those rare occasions in life when you have some sense that you are stepping into something big and enduring. I’m no prophet, and at 26 sure didn’t know much about life, but I knew then what I know now and will never stop knowing. Those boys were and are treasures straight from God’s heart. Those two boys got an apartment with some others and then there were four, and then some moved on and more were added and then there were a lot more than four and really, who could ever count the people whose lives are different because of a handful of sweet earnest boys who wanted to love God and God’s big broken world.
God put one thing on my heart- to write those boys letters. Every Sunday night I did just that. A letter to each of them. Even if there were 8 or 10 of them, a handwritten letter. While the modern convenience of email and facebook and text messages, (even blogs) is great, nothing compares with how exciting a letter feels in your hand in those moments between mailbox and easy chair. There were so many many nights of fun and of feeling out our faith boundaries and writing our faith stories at one or the other of my succession of little apartments in the years that followed.
I am not surprised, 30 years later, that these boys have grown into amazing men. They each have found strong beautiful partners to walk through life with. They all have beautiful children who carry on their good looks and more importantly their wide open hearts.
We have all grown older, balder, bigger, wiser, and certainly busier. We’ve stared down cancer scares and the adolescence of our children. Our theologies have shifted (many times) and the path we thought we were on has led us to places we didn’t plan to go. Still, here we are.
Last night the 4 original “boys” and their kids, and me and my family all got to have an evening together. The stars aligned to bring us all to the same place at the same time, drawing us in from California and Virginia and Tennessee, Indiana and Kentucky. It had been 7 years since we had been able to make that happen, and yet we all just fell right into place, finishing a sentence we left off on 7 years ago without skipping a beat. The greatest joy was the way our kids (who were just little kiddos 7 years ago) got along together, giving us a sense of hope for the next generation of “boys” in this world.
I (no surprise here) got weepy just seeing us all together. We are past the age now where we take for granted friendships like this, or that we will all always be around for the next gathering. I think we knew we were rich when we were younger, but we had no idea just HOW rich.
The boys have a plan- to meet up in California in 2 years to commemorate the 50th birthday of one of them by climbing Mount Baldy together. Maybe I need to start writing them letters again, admonishing them to stretch and grow and reminding them that they are dearly loved as they train for this event!
It is no small thing in this world to have friends like these.