Reuniting with friends

A funeral is not a place a person would expect to have a happy reunion. That is exactly what happened when several of our college “gang” came together for the funeral of a classmate. It was a time of reflection and thankfulness for friendships that have endured decades.

Last weekend, we got together in London at one couple’s home. We talked. We ate. We pulled out old memories and a lot of laughter. It was great being together with this group of friends again and their spouses. We played a crazy domino board game that took hours to complete, but also took away any awkwardness of empty time.

Friendships are something we all should cherish. I have been blessed with people who are still part of my life after many decades. With some of them, we only touch base about once a year. Others I talk to almost weekly.

There is something precious about true friends. Our lives go different directions. We face different challenges along the way. We have trials and failures, victories and joy in our lives. It is a wonderful thing to know there is a group of people somewhere who have loved us through it all.

I have friends that live within ten miles who I miss terribly because we no longer work together, or our paths have necessarily take different directions. This happens to all of us. It seems crazy to think I can miss someone who lives within ten or twenty miles, but I do.

I miss the people who used to come to my house and play board games every few months. We shared food, games, and laughter. Some got married. Some have battled illness and personal loss. Our paths simply took different directions. I still love them. I still cherish those happy times we spent together.

The Bear Watchers unofficial group at Kingdom Come were a wonderful group of people who meandered up the mountain for an entire year, hoping to catch sight of the mother bear and her five cubs. We got acquainted while we waited. It was a great group of people drawn together in a common place, with a common hope – sighting the bears.

Intercessory prayer groups that meet in people’s homes seem to come and go. I have been part of several over the years. Praying together is a force that draws people into relationship with God and with each other. Even when the groups disband for one reason or another, the bond of prayer and faith remains.

Parents who attend sporting events to watch their children play one sport or another develop a sense of teamship that lasts long after the kids have grown up and gone their own ways. Bleacher time, travel time, and team booster activities knit parents together in these situations, long after the games are over.

Church connections join people in a spiritual dimension, faith level, and social connection. Church is a place where we go in hopes of being fed on spiritual matters, but also where we hope to have open doors of ministry to make a difference in the world in which we live.

Grade school, junior high, high school and college are all places where we share common experiences that knit us together. It is good not only to remember those stages in our lives, but also to be remembered as we were. Having someone who remembers how we looked and sounded at the age of sixteen and the things we loved doing, is a gift. It is a reminder that we haven’t always been the person we are today. Once we were young and carefree before the responsibilities of life took us in.

Family members are definitely the most precious on the list. Many of my most cherished relationships are family members whom I also count as friends. We understand where we came from, our cultural values, faith, and our heritage in a way that others will never quite be able to grasp.

I am one blessed woman in the area of friendships and long-term relationships. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for each and every one.

Reach Judith Victoria Hensley at judith99@bellsouth.net or on Facebook. Check out her blog: One Step Beyond the Door.