practising the dual arts of sermon avoidance (after all, it's only 12.30 - the day is young) and perpetual lateness, I'm here on Saturday with yesterday's Friday Five, which is a celebration of friendship. How could I bear to miss it?
Friends of mine will know that I really struggle to keep anything in order, so perhaps it's not surprising that I'm finding it incredibly hard to fit friends into categories. If we were drawing venn diagrams,there'd be all sorts of wildly overlapping circles.....childhood friends are also FB friends, school & church friends are also music friends, work friends are very definitely curry friends etc etc. And there are a whole host of lovely people, whom I'd hate to be without, who've eluded any category but just make my life richer and happier.
1. Friends from way back
category 1)(those who are more like family):
I've blogged before about my wonderful Honorary Mother E, & her children who are the nearest thing to family of origin I now have. We don't see each other at all regularly (mostly my fault) but we know that connection is a constant fundamental part of our lives.
category 2) (school days)C, whom I met on my first day in Kindergarten & have loved ever since, is Hattie Gandhi's god-mother (and her son is my godchild too) & there's a similar reciprocal god-parenting arrangement with A., my best friend from the High School (who has care of Hugger Steward)...I used to play piano duets with her endlessly, as the rain lashed down during long lunch hours, & we'd get home only to spend hours on the phone to each other. Now we wave on FB periodically, but because she lives in Ely, close to the loveliest university city in England, I get to see her a bit too. Such a delight.
2. Work friends category 1 (ordained): those I trained with, those who are neighbours in this deanery & further afield, those whom I only see at diocesan hoolies, but always enjoy touching base with. If I've a sticky work question, they'll produce all sorts of solutions between them & never make me feel dim that I don't have an answer to hand myself.
category 2 (non ordained): people I only met through parish ministry, but whose friendship is surviving geographical upheavals; many of these, though not all, fit into a subdirectory of Greenbelt friends, Facebook friends & there are curry friends in here as well. See what I mean about blurry boundaries?
category 3 (in a class of her own): best Spir Dir ever - who also, of course, qualifies as a "work friend" (& with whom I do absolutely masses of very hard work indeed!) but also has the distinction of having moved from being
"someone of whom I'm so much in awe that I'm scared to speak to her" to
"the person whom I'd phone first in almost any situation of crisis or joy".
She's also the one I'd contact first if I needed to report a naked man dead on my kitchen floor at 3.00 in the morning. I know she'd help me bury the body...
4. Greenbelt friends: there's something about people who attend this wonderful Festival that tends to create a bond wherever you meet. I first encountered two or three of my favourite people on the planet through Greenbelt, & every year it provides a wonderful opportunity to touch base not just with them, but with a wide circle of Greenbelt family that stretches across oceans and includes people I've never met but whom I'd still count as friends.
5. Online friends (to include, of course, work friends, Greenbelt friends et al). I had just started training when I began visiting the Christian Aid "Surefish" web community, which together with the Greenbelt forum was my first inititiation into the world of cyber friendships. I'd just been ordained deacon when I began my blog, and the friendships that have grown from there continue to astound me. There are some with whom I'm so close that it feels wrong if we don't speak online for a couple of days, some whom I've been blessed to meet irl, some to whom I feel so closely connected that their joys and sadness become part of me. I've woken at intervals through the night to pray and wonder about a friend in labour far far away, rushed into the house to log on & discover if there's any news for a friend waiting on life-changing decisions, wept over lost loves and lost pets. Every now and then I get an email from a blog reader who has been reading my ramblings, and feeling connected to me without my ever being aware of them. I can never quite believe the joy of this...secret friends, whom I don't even know are there. It's really lovely.
For a bonus we're invited to mention a new blog friend...Song, who blogs here
leapt into my consciousness via an incredibly helpful and insightful comment when I was trying to plan this year's Lent course in a slightly disgruntled, one-armed way. We've now connected on twitter too, & she continues to challenge & inspire me with her posts, & make me smile as I visualise her journeys across London, armed with an instrument case or two. Go and visit: you'll see what I mean.
Now, of course, my furry friends are looking reproachfully at me. How could I blog about friends without mentioning them? But I'm blessed. My world is full of all sorts of wonderful people, human and otherwise...For an only child,friends ARE family and I treasure you all.