This weekend, I attended the wedding of a seminary friend in Virginia. A beautiful ceremony - the message, focusing on making sacred space, was extremely moving. (My apologies if I haven't responded to emails and comments you've left this past week - I'm getting there, eventually)
The wedding, along with a few other gatherings I've been part of recently, has me thinking about relationships and change in relationships. In Chicago this week, I had the change to gather with several friends from Ohio Wesleyan, and last month I also saw seminary friends at Drew.
I think that change in relationships is one of the hardest, most emotional things to go through. I suppose this is true, in a way, whether the change is ultimately viewed as a positive, desired change or not. I think back on my life about friendships or even acquaintances that I've had in my life, and I can't help but want to at least know what has happened to some of the people that just aren't a part of my life anymore, for one reason or another. Where is that kid who moved to Florida when I was in grade school? What happened to my fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Laitres who moved away mid school-year? What became of my senior dance date? I wonder, often, despite generally disliking my CPE experience, what happened to all the babies who were in the NICU after I finished my summer as a chaplain. Are they all healthy and strong toddlers now?
I feel a sense of sadness, a sense of loss, when I realize that some friendships won't last for years and years beyond the season of life in which they were so important, so central to everyday life. Our lives are always changing, and some relationships don't survive change. This realization sometimes has the unfortunate effect of making the memories of the friendship somehow tainted to me. Maybe it shouldn't be so, I'm not sure. But changing relationships are certainly a reality of life.
I guess, then, the strongest relationships are the ones that are sustained wherever life seems to take both people involved. In Chicago, I get to see one of my best and longest friends, who I went to high school with, and college with, and will probably end up at school with again someday. And at Christmas, she'll be here, back in Central New York. Our friendship certainly hasn't been free of struggle. We've spent a good share of time mad at each other or driving each other crazy through the years. But I think we've transcended into a place where I know she'll always be in my life and I will always be in hers, whatever changes life brings.
So, I wish for my friend and his new wife, as they begin their marriage, that they experience the kind of love that sustains them and blesses them through all the twists and turns that life brings.