"Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold."
I see my life as a tapestry and friendships contribute to that tapestry. Each person whose life is interwoven with mine adds richness, color and depth that would not otherwise be here.
As you can imagine we have met a LOT of people in the past month. When I applied for this position, I new ONE person who lived in this entire state and I haven't seen her yet because she is 3 hours from here. Now I can call several Virginians friends and am meeting new people that I find delightful every day. There is not enough time to get to know all of them as quickly as I would like, but I'm going to work on it. Because their stories, their perspectives and ideas, make my life fuller, richer and deeper.
So this weekend is going to be a wonderful mix of the old and the new. Last night, Bart and I met 8 people for the first time. Four couples from our new church had dinner together with us. I was able to meet some people who have that dry, quiet, sarcastic sense of humor that delights my soul. All of them were bright. Some were readers who could talk to Bart about their shared passion for books. Others had interests not like mine (one is a master gardener and you'll remember if you have been a blog reader of mine for years that my gardening hobby was the worst three hours of my life). We had great conversation, a delicious meal, and a rousing few games of sequence. We laughed a lot. We learned a lot about Danville and about life in Virginia. We listened, we shared, and I could see the needles threading ... the richness of my tapestry of my life is about to become even more beautiful!
This morning is going to take me back a few months and years, to hang out with Sonia the Office Manager at Bethany who is one of my favorite people on earth. For some reason we clicked -- she was single and 30 when we met, I was very not single and over 50. But we took time to get to know each other and I was able to see her heart, her potential, her struggles, and we were able to share on a deep level. She is going to FaceTime with me this morning -- we have a date for that, and I am so excited!
Then after that I am rewinding to 21 years ago when I lived life daily with my friend Mara. She was the Secretary to the President at the college where I was Dean of Students. We shared a special connection during the years we were together and she and I are going to have lunch together and then spend 4 glorious hours catching up on 21 years and reminiscing about those "good old days" when we had energy to stay up past ten.
Finally, tonight one of the three wise men and his wife are coming for dinner -- our first house guests at the new parsonage. Bart is making hay and straw -- my favorite meal (fettucini alfredo with prosciutto, bacon, and mushrooms)!
When I first arrived on campus people referred to friendships as "alliances." I knew there were some system issues when I heard that and started joking with people that I had just joined an episode of Survivor. The system said that you couldn't really get close to anyone because of what others might think. Well, screw that. You all know me well enough that I'm not going to get sucked into that.
I am happy to be friends with anyone who wants me to be their friend. Situations and circumstances are going to mean that I end up getting closer to some people than others based on our working relationship, family situations, etc. But that doesn't mean that I can't be professional in my work.
It's odd that most people who work here move across the country to become a part of the staff here. They know NOBODY else but the people they work with. And if the system says, "don't be friends with those you work with or people will talk" it isolates people further. So I immediately decided that I was going to consciously not pay attention to the "rules" that say who I can and can't be friends with. My life, as you know, is an open book, and I'm not going to start behaving in different ways because of a dysfunctional system. And I am going to encourage everyone to work on having MORE relationships that are close, not less.
So I'm going to tell you who is coming to dinner and why they are our first house guests.
Tonight Steve and Wynde are coming over. I am telling you their names because this is my personal blog so I can write whatever I want here. If you are looking for my "professional blog" you can click here.
Ever since before I came for my interview Steve and Wynde have gone out of their way to be kind to us. Wynde showed Bart all around during my interview. She introduced him to a United Methodist District Superintendent that led us to getting this awesome interim appointment and huge parsonage to live in.
Steve is the Chief Operating Officer, so technically my peer, though he would most likely tell you that he is intellectually superior to me. :-) He and his staff did everything they could to make sure that we settled in well when Dominyk and I came. They had the house ready. They made sure we had what we needed. They secured a company vehicle. Steve emailed me ideas and suggestions about where Wilson might feel most comfortable in school and hooked me up with others who had opinions as well.
When Dominyk arrived and knew nobody, Wynde and Steve's son, Caleb, spent the day with him. Wynde took them out to lunch. Caleb has hung out with him a few other times since then and Dominyk thinks he is awesome. We certainly don't mind Dominyk spending time with an Eagle Scout who is enrolled in college. (A bit different that his friends he was making back in Robbinsdale who were contracting with him to buy him guns).
The week Tony came unexpectedly, I invited myself over to dinner at Steve and Wynde's because I knew I didn't want to wait alone in the office in Lynchburg when Tony was coming because he causes me some anxiety. Wynde prepared a great meal and we talked and my anxiety leveled out.
There is no end to the list of ways that they have both gone out of their way to be welcoming, both professionally and personally. They have made it a point to care for us without expecting repayment.
I could go on and on and on (you all know I could) about how awesome I think they both are but enough is enough. Let's just say that they are fine people. See why we're having them for dinner?
So this post kind of got out of control.... but I am trying to make a few points, like I always do. Let me summarize:
1) Relationships are very important to me. People are what make me who I am.
2) I am committed to renewing old friendships whenever I can, because I love my old friends.
3) I am constantly seeking to add people to my list of friends who are willing to "do life with me" -- not just casually acquaintances, but deep meaningful transformative friendships that change me, change them, and together change the world.
4) I'm not going to let a dysfunctional system having me living in fear. When we have others over for dinner, I will tell you about that (if i'm in a blogging mood). I will not allow the system to suggest that I need to hide what I'm doing from anyone else. I'm just going to be me.
And really, if I can be myself, and show others how to do the same, health is on the way...