If you had asked me a little over a year ago (and you wouldn't have, because I wasn't in the blogosphere yet), I would have said I had five really close friends: one from jr. high, one from high school, one from college, one from my seminary years (though not from seminary) and my husband. None of those folks lived near me, other than the hubby.
Over the course of the last year, I lost my husband. He's still a friend, but obviously the friendship is strained and will never be as intimate as it once was. I also had one of my closest friends fall away as we both endured pretty hard life transitions and did so very differently. I have been wondering whether to reach out to her again, but I know that I do not trust her as I once did. Another friend (see yesterday's post) is now closer in distance, but her own life difficulties have made it harder to stay tight. That might change. And with another friend, we've simply fallen out of touch from years and years of not seeing each other and rarely speaking any more.
That leaves one friend. She's coming today for a visit so I'll be out of touch for a few days, probably.
I'm starting to make friends in this new city. It is a slow process at this stage of adulthood. Not like college or grad school when you can sit around for hours shooting the shit. We all have jobs and mortgages and kids and parents to care for. Our lives are busy and we sneak in walks or talks over coffee when we can. I have lived in eight places in the past twenty-two years. Now I feel like I'm starting over in so many ways -- career, relationships, place, sense of self.
On Sunday the sermon was called "Sweet Surrender." Using the Martha/Mary passage, the preacher talked about moving beyond doing or being, beyond action or contemplation, into a kind of surrendered living where we practice daily allowing our lives to be shaped by the spirit, so we learn to know instinctively when to be in the kitchen working and when to be sitting at the feet of Christ listening. Last night I was reading Sue Monk Kidd on this same topic: surrender. Using the image of the caterpillar beginning the work of the chrysalis, she talked about "diapause," a process where caterpillars can actually put off the timing of the cocoon for up to a year if they don't feel ready yet to leave behind the caterpillar life. How hard it is, she noted, to really let go of who we have been and surrender into a new life, trusting God to shape us into who we might become. We let go a little bit and then grab hold of some old security again. Bit by bit, we let ourselves be changed. Or we don't.
Surrender is not my strong suit. Yet I long for this next stage of life to be God-driven, God-shaped, God-fragranced. I long to let myself be surprised by the workings of grace. God, save me from being Martha when I need to be Mary, and when the nurturing, sacred work of Martha needs to be done, let me do it gracefully. Amen.