I decided to play the Friday Five this week - Jan writes: As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "The way to have a friend is to be a friend."
So today let's write about the different kinds of friends we have, like childhood friends, lost friends, tennis friends, work friends, and the list goes on. List 5 different types of friends you have had in your life and what they were/are like.
1. Long lost friends - I've written before about the struggle I have with what I'd call "long lost friends," those relationships you have in life that were once so important, but for whatever reason, have disappeared. It's less common, now, to completely lose touch, I guess, or lose awareness of what someone else is up to, thanks to thinks like facebook (see #2), which I truly treasure, even as these mediums drive others crazy. I love that something like facebook at least lets me answer the "what ever happened to..." question, even if we don't remain in contact. Who are my lost friends? My elementary school "boyfriend" who gave me a stuffed chesire cat for my birthday (which I still have,) and then moved to Florida. The Norwegian boy who came to the US for a year with his family and was in my third grade class - Oystein Pritz. Are you out there? Countless camp friends - they should really have their own category - those friendships you make for a week that are so intense, but you mostly never talk to again: Star Berry, Kerri Sessions, Jen Lee, Sarah Kerley, Casie Salmon, Becky Parker..., the Italian exchange student who stayed with us for a month when I was in 9th grade, Michaela Tafuni. The really intriguing Jacob DeSoto from Junior High. Where are you people?
2. High-school Friends - I've only maintained unbroken contact with a very few friends from high-school, but thanks to the wonders of facebook, I've now reconnected with many more old friends. Some, a handful, I'm surprised I ever lost contact with, since we were pretty close in high-school. (I'm talking about you, Candice Torres!) Others, I was never really friends with in high-school to begin with, as far as I remember, but unlike others who hate getting requests from these folks, I enjoy it. To me, it says, "Hey, we're thirty now, high-school was a long time ago, we're adults, and we can make the connections we wouldn't make then." I can accept that, and appreciate that. There's also a couple of people that I've liked becoming friends with because they just grew up into such different people than I expected. One person, in particular, has just been such a kind, sweet person to me, and I never would have guessed that would happen a dozen years ago.
3. College friends - My roommate my freshman year of college and I really did not get along our first semester. But we got over it, became very close, and have been good friends ever since. We still visit each other whenever we can. I have a handful of very close friends from college that I keep in touch with outside of facebook-type exchanges. The longevity of these friendships, the strength of them, above and beyond both high-school and seminary (unexpected) friendships has often surprised me. In seminary, for example, a basic common purpose, and ending up generally all working in the same field, makes it seem more likely to stay in touch. But in actuality, it's my Museum-Studies-friend and my lives-on-a-reservation-in-Arizona friend who I stay in better touch with.
4. Seminary friends - I loved Drew. I love my seminary friends. I had a hard time settling in at Drew my first year. I graduated from college a year early, and I missed the friends I would have been graduating with a lot. I kept to myself a lot my first year. But eventually, I became friends with a really wonderful group of people. We don't always keep in great touch, especially since I spent the first 4 years of my ministry farther away than most of the rest of them. But I love the chances I do have to see them, and I'm proud of all the neat things they're doing in their respective ministries, including one who leads speical multimedia worship, a campus ministry chaplain, an associate general secretary at a UM agency, one who's incorporates a fitness program into a spiritual disipline for her congregation, some working on doctoral degrees now, a pastor taking leave to spend 4 months in Nigeria, friends working in social services, serving in Idaho, Arkansas, etc.
5. Colleagues - Over the last six years, I've realized that one of my favorite things about being United Methodist is the connectional system and the unique collegiality that afford me as a UM Clergy person. I know not all UM pastors feel this way, I'm sure, but I know many do just treasure times where we get together. I really enjoy attending annual conference, district days, even mundane meetings, because of the people I get to be around. Lately, I'm enjoying a newly started young clergy group connecting under-40 clergy in my soon-to-be-new conference. I enjoyed my probationary covenant group, and the district clergy women's group I used to meet with monthly, and some of my dearest friends in the world are also my colleagues, deepening our relationships.