OLD FRIENDS, GOLD FRIENDS

By Lisa Huddleston

When I was in Girl Scouts, we sang a little song:

Make new friends, but keep the old.

One is silver and the other is gold.

Well, my dear friend, Suzanne, is gold for sure. We met when both our husbands were in their respective residency trainings, and we were young wives. We were each other’s family away from family—sisters in every sense but blood. We talked daily in a time before cell phones. We were pregnant with our first children at the same time, and our babies played together. And when residency ended, we moved apart. Bob, Suzanne, and babies eventually went home to New Jersey, while Chuck and I and our little ones returned to Tennessee. It broke my heart; she said it broke hers, too. But it was unavoidable—sadly nothing lasts forever.

Together again!

Together again!

I know I am too easily attached to things, to shampoos, to television shows, to times, and to people. I try to stay aloof, apart, but I simply can’t. I’m not made that way. I feel too much too strongly and that makes me worry and dread the days that will come when the store stops carrying my favorite product, the TV series ends, the times change, and people must go. I even worry that both my counselor and doctor are slightly older than I and I know they won’t practice forever and what will I do when they retire or, God forbid, die?! After all, good people are hard to find and … pant, pant, pant. See? Too easily attached.

"Pair o' docs"

“Pair o’ docs”

Last night Chuck and I returned from a long weekend spent with Bob and Suzanne. They drove a little over 7 hours and we drove a little over 8 and we met in the middle and we talked like we used to talk and we hugged and we cried and we shared stories of our five grown children and our parents and our work and our plans for when we retire from work and the state of the nation and the states of our health and golf and hockey and good times and bad and then the time was over and each couple drove away in opposite directions once again. And now my heart hurts all over again.

But I am thankful for old friends and golden days and generous memories that forget the arrogance of youth and see old friends through the eyes of authentic love.

One is silver, and the other is gold!

 

BELONGING

Comfortably home.

Comfortably home.

By Lisa Huddleston

I just got off the phone with a friend who was chuckling over a young college student’s essay on his firm beliefs in a young earth, a literal Genesis, and the sinfulness of those who don’t agree with his position. Rather than joining my friend’s amusement, I found a sad smile flitting around my mouth. “Bless his heart,” was the best I could come up with at first. Then “He is young. Someday when he is old he will learn how little he can really know.” And today that is one truth I firmly hold. Every day I live, I confess to knowing a little less–but I do feel much better about it, and that is good.

My sweet girl and her husband have been married for one year and four months. They have moved twice and have looked at several wonderfully tiny old houses to buy. Yet, they have not taken the plunge, because as my girl says, “I’m not sure we really belong in Lebanon.” I smile everytime I hear those words, because I’m pretty certain that Chuck and I don’t really belong here either.

Don’t misunderstand. We have a truly lovely home in a truly lovely location with deep roots for his family and the privacy that we both enjoy so well. Yet there are many times when I feel restless with the life we lead. If I want to, I can go for days without seeing anyone but the two people with whom I live–and that’s just fine. But I know that my neighbors, as far away as they are, are watching out for me and sometimes I long for the impersonal crowdedness of the city, the knowledge that no one knows me or will call if an ambulance passes down the street or a strange car is in my driveway. Anonymity is a comfort at times.

Perhaps that is why I feel more at home in the large church I now attend than the smaller one we were a part of for many, many years. Now I can go to services and barely speak to a soul. I do recognize the handful with whom we attend a small group and am glad to receive their smiles of greeting, but little is required of me in the way of conversation and I am glad (for good or for bad). So many times, I’m just not up for it. The exchange of information of what has happened during the week–I was kind of glad when I posted everything on Facebook, because I didn’t have to recount it individually. But maybe it’s even better this way. No one knows that I took a trip or went to the grocery or rode my bike past a beautifully dying old barn. They don’t know so they don’t know to ask and I am spared the trial of making a conversation with people with whom I truly have little relationship.

That is another thing that was so lovely about our time with our old friends last week. When we spoke it was about REAL things, things that matter like politics and religion and money. The forbidden three in the shallow world of acquaintances. It was glorious. And then, as my friend mentioned, it was equally wonderful to sit in silence around the pool and just soak in the beauty of the setting we shared. Even in the silence the belonging was a warm blanket comfortably wrapped around our shoulders and thrown across our chilly laps. What a joy to belong.

A joy and a rarity. When I watch the news and listen to the political chaos that is our country I feel the outsider I have become–not a true liberal nor a true conservative, definitely not a Democrat nor Republican. The same is true with the church–I am no longer at home in the confines of doctrine and denomination. Too much of me hangs over the walls of delineation. I cannot find a comfortable silence in these camps therefore I often find myself bursting forth in loud cries of discomfort–like a muffin-top waist pinched in by a too-tight belt. It just isn’t pretty.

When I was younger I was just like my professor friend’s self-righteous and oh-so-certain student. But now? I just don’t know, and I just don’t belong. And I suppose that’s just okay and as it should be as I get closer to home, baruch HaShem.

ALMOST HEAVEN

Sweet friendship lasts.

Sweet friendship lasts.

By Lisa Huddleston

Last night, Chuck and I returned from a four-day trip to The Homestead Resort in the Allegheny Mountains of Virginia. It’s pretty unusual for us to travel this time of year, and I think this was the first time we’d ever visited a bonafide resort; but this was a special occasion. We took this trip to spend some time with dear friends from New Jersey, Bob and Suzanne, whom we had not seen for the past 12 years. None of us could really believe it had been that long, but as they say, time flies, life gets busy, and it’s hard to find margin. But the kids are grown, and my friend, Sue, is a persistent gal (thank goodness). The time to reunite was here at last.

I was a tiny bit nervous about going. First, it had been so long. I hoped we’d have as much fun as we used to have. (We did!) Second, the resort had restrictions regarding clothing styles in certain areas of the building, and I am a blue jeans kinda girl. (It was no big deal.) Third, I always worry about going anywhere and have to be cajoled to leave the farm–I hate to separate from my pets, my house, my bed, and so on. (Basically, I’m a stick in the mud.)

The guys--aren't they cute?

The guys–aren’t they cute?

But all that worry was a ridiculous waste of time. It was a wonderful visit, and the four of us connected instantly as though no time at all had passed. Of course, none of us “had changed a bit,” and we all “looked great!” And in our eyes, every bit of that was true. In fact, it was just like coming home.

And that last thought caused me to ponder the true meaning of home. I’ve determined that as much as I love this beautiful house my husband has built for our family, home is not a building. True home is a relationship–a comfortable and easy place that allows us to be who we really are (blue jeans or not). Whether in the mountains of Virginia, the crowded neighborhoods of New Jersey, Nashville or Knoxville, the city or the farm–wherever the pieces of my heart reside with friends and family, that is true home to me. And ultimately that truth points me to my best and final home where I will be completely accepted and loved for myself (in Christ)–Heaven.

The Omni Homestead--almost heaven (but not West Virginia.)

The Omni Homestead–almost heaven (but not West Virginia.)

What a sweet time we enjoyed with our friends this week, and what a sweet reminder of the joy that is to come one day when we are reunited for good with all the saints who have gone before us taking pieces of our hearts with them to our final home to come. (I just hope there’s not a dress code!)