When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, “What is it?”
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit. -Robert frost
This poem kept coming to mind after a visit with Ellen a few weeks ago, because she embodies this. She puts down her hoe, and has time for you, time to talk. She was one of the Safe People, growing up. One who Knew The Ropes, but wasn’t coy about it. She wouldn’t give you measuring glances, up one side and down the other, and give that condescending smirk that you were the New Kid, and by the way, what a horrible skirt (and it should be noted that I had quite a few of these). No, no, Ellen might wrap you in a hug and genuinely laugh and make you feel like you had something interesting to say, or if you didn’t say anything that was fine, because she was one whose sunny presence you could sit back and bask in with nothing said. She came last month to our house because she’s the type that Likes West Texas and actually makes trips to enjoy (besides family), The View (and by that I think they mean the sky and canyons and broad scopes for the imagination). She came to my house along with my Texas Sistren. We had coffee and lunch and good conversation, and I was reminded again how much We Humans Need Each other. How that our friends are more than a text and a picture on instagram to beef up the feed, and more than an email to remember to send. Our friends – the ones whose soul We Get, or as Anne Shirley would say, “the race of Joseph” that we simply connect to in one way or another, those are the ones who will constantly be encouraging us to sift through soil to find nuggets and meaning to Deeper Life, and to refresh ourselves in the good of life.
C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” It’s certainly true that after a half hour spent with one of my Bosom Friends, life feels more penetrable, as if the Good Things have been made more ready to harvest. I find myself thinking, what a good place this world is – what a beautiful life indeed, and what A Lot There Is Yet to Be Discovered and What A Hunger For Good Books I have, and perhaps the evil is not so dominant as I might believe it is at times. Friendship may be a luxury, but after soul conversations, where Souly Friends can ebb and flow from topics of sober depth to merry lightheartedness with that same knitted weave of hearts and minds, I’m encouraged to be the kind of friend that brings that to the table. This is an area in which I need growth. But I’ve noticed that friends who offer this kind of friendship have in common some traits:
- time – it’s a precious commodity, and I’m learning to recognize that when someone passes an hour simply visiting, it’s an investment to value.
- eye contact – this is such a powerful connector, and I love how simply God designed this tool of Getting To Know A Person, and Deepening Ties.
- thoughtfulness – a card, a text, a visit, something made with your hands for your friend, a favorite bar of chocolate, a cup of tea in company…thoughtfulness isn’t hard, but it does take some, well, Thought. And usually a combination of these other traits.
- effort – While I do think there are plenty of times to say No to something you could do for or with friends in order to prioritize other things (family, church, etc.) it still holds true that “a man who will have friends must show himself friendly”, and that effort will pay.
- listening – one of my sisters is especially good at this, but from her quiet eyes, she will sometimes wonder if listening is enough. But, it is. Listening, as passive as it might seem, is a balm for people. It’s a salve you offer, simply by lending your ear. People need this…there are lots of voices, and not too many ears, nowadays.
I remember leaning against the counter of a lady I’d just met, and soaking in the warmth of her soul that poured from her home and her speech and her face. I told my friend, Kathryn when we left, I felt as though I’d drunk from a cool fountain and hadn’t realized how parched I was. Again, one of the Asters In My Sky lives in Mississippi, and on a hot June day that was dripping with scents of blackberries in the hedge and honeysuckles on clusters, she sat on the edge of the claw foot tub in her bathroom, while I sat on the (closed lid of the) commode and We Talked Life. Things that are dear to heart surface in the presence of common souls. Exposing and reminding each other of Those Things, are what sharpen, and shape us. I don’t know if you do this, but I can trace so many Inspirations and Determinations in my life, back to someone I look up to. Dear Friends, in the darkness surrounding us, keep being those beacons, those heart healers, those listening ears and refreshing people that pour out kindness and give value to survival. It’s something that will never grow old in this mortal world.
daniel loved chilling out with the girls as we drank so much coffee and talked of all good things.
prettiest eyes and those dimples. Ellen, you bless so many people. So thankful for our friendship.
enter, cosy kitchen nook that’s my favorite spot in the house. it does so well for accommodating however many we want to squeeze in there.
snapped these of Lana because her ring was sparkling through the trees…little did we know she’d be getting married the next week!
just gotta end with the two darling fellows of the house.