The path of friendship

little girl on path

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There’s an old saying that grass doesn’t grow on the path between friends’ homes or something like that.

I couldn’t find the exact quote but somewhere in the recesses of my memory, those words exist. The nearest I could come to verifying that saying was a Native American proverb: “Don’t allow the grass to grow on the path of friendship.”

When I think about those words, one of my best and dearest friends comes to my mind. 

Leigh and I have been friends for over 50 years. Her parents built their house next-door to my folks when we were children and Leigh and I quickly became playmates.

We played together almost every day immersing ourselves in Barbies, playing house, running a pretend restaurant, whatever our imagination could conjure up.  And most of the time, weather permitting, we played outside dragging our toys back and forth between our two houses.

We also rode our bikes down our country road, played secret agent with her brother, and spent countless hours in the winter time sled-riding and building snow forts.

As young girls, we explored, we dreamed of the future, we swooned over The Monkeees, and we planned magical days that we were sure we’d experience sometime (our weddings). It’s what little girls did back then.

After Leigh’s parents installed an in-ground swimming pool, most of our summer days were consumed there, tanning, swimming, and listening to the radio. Our friendship was forged by all the time we spent together, year after year.

Leigh’s home became my second home; mine was hers. The acre-sized yard that separated my house from hers was our path to friendship. When we stayed up late into the night talking, one of us would race across that yard between our houses to the safety of home.

Since we lived in the country, we always worried about crossing paths with skunks or some other wild animal and that expanse of grass that separated our homes was encased in darkness, which proved to be a bit scary. So either she would stand on her back yard porch and watch me scamper home or I would stand on the sidewalk in between our house and garage and watch her go.

That grassy yard was the only thing that separated us in those years. Leigh and I shared secrets, dreams, anxieties, disappointments, hurts, and every emotion that young girls experience.  We trusted one another with confidences we wouldn’t share with others.

As young adults, we were in each other’s dream weddings, but our marriages took us away from our childhood homes.  As adults,  we rejoiced together over the birth of our children, shared stories of motherhood, watched our children become adults, and finally commiserated over the empty nest – all from afar by phone calls and occasional visits as we no longer lived beside one another.

We’ve been friends through thick and thin, even though we haven’t lived side by side for over 40 years now. More than a grassy yard separated us as adults. I lived in far-away places for 20 years. Leigh lived in another state too for a time and then, many years ago, settled with her husband in a town a good distance away from our hometown.

But miles have never separated our hearts. A year ago, Leigh had a major terrifying health problem and I thought I would lose one of my best friends. Miraculously, God intervened and saved her.  Prayers for her were answered and today she is doing well considering all that she went through.

It had been a few months since we talked and one recent Sunday evening, I dialed her cell phone number. I hadn’t even realized that it was exactly one year to the day that she almost left this life until she mentioned it. And we marveled over how occurrences  lined up perfectly to spare her life that day.

We talked. And we talked. And we talked. Just like those late night conversations we had as young girls. We talked for almost four hours straight, until our cell phone batteries began waning and we had to find our phone chargers. 

That’s what kind of friendship we have.  Not only does grass not grow on our path of friendship, but miles and time and even cell phone batteries don’t keep us apart. 

Conversing with Leigh is always like those late nights all those years ago when we lived side by side. This long-enduring friendship crosses that grassy yard once again  and I am so grateful for that path that never grows closed.

“A friend is one in whom we can confide. The secret chambers of our soul open to his touch on the latch.” ~ J.E. Dinger


The best antiques are old friends

pexels-photo-296649.jpegI highly value friendship.  In my beloved quotes notebook, a plethora of thoughts on this topic gracefully unfurl over many pages.

“We need to have people who mean something to us, people to whom we can turn knowing that being with them is like coming home.” ~ Anonymous

My family roamed far from home for a number of years, moving around the country wherever my husband’s work took us.   At each spot we landed, God graciously provided amazing and supportive friends.  Friendships changed over the years, but I still cherish those far-away friends, even though many miles separate us, and stay connected through emails, social networking, and even this blog.

George Washington once said, “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”

Wise words spoken by a founding father of our country, I imagine he said this regarding other nations, beseeching our new country to be cautious about who America’s true friends were and which nations we could trust.   But I think we can extend his observation into our private lives as well.

I consider myself vastly blessed to possess some faithful and loyal relationships – tried and true friends in whom I have utmost trust – which have endured the long haul.   Just this week, I was granted the gift of spending time with two of them in person and one via phone conversation.

These three dear friends are named Mae, Annie, and Leigh (not their real names but they will recognize who they are).    My friendship journey with Mae commenced when we were five years old, just two little whippersnappers enjoying play time together.  We attended the same schools and church and our lives have always been entwined.

Annie and I met as school chums in first grade, staying friends all through elementary school, junior and senior high; we even attended the same college.   Leigh, younger than I, became my close friend when her parents built a home next door to my parents when we were kids; she was maid of honor at my wedding almost 34 years ago.

My friendship with each of these wonderful women has stood the test of time.  We never lost contact with each other as adults, through marriages and raising families, even though I moved away and they stayed in the region surrounding our hometown.

For 52 years, Mae and I have remained friends.   My friendship with Annie has lasted 51 years, and my history with Leigh encompasses well over 45 years.  These gals know me.  I know them.   They are women I turn to for a listening ear, women who give me good counsel, women with whom I have rejoiced, and women with whom I have wept.  They have seen me at my best and witnessed me at my worst, and yet they still like me!  I love them and they will always be my friends.

Time spent with any of the three evolves into a marathon because we have so much to discuss.  I have shared every important aspect of my life with these women and probably way too much trivia as well.  I know for certain that items I disclose to them is never turned into gossip fodder, and I keep their shared life stories just as closely guarded.

On Wednesday, I lunched with Annie.  We had over six months of life to catch up with since we last met. My time with her always seems too short because we discuss everything from soup to nuts and still have more to say.  She encourages me, supports me, yet isn’t timid about giving me food for thought when I need a change in attitude.   That’s why she is one of my most trusted confidantes.

We have shared a lifetime of memories together and we share our faith in God as well.  This quote in my cherished notebook describes what kind of friend Annie is:  “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”  ~ Anonymous

Mae stopped by my house for a visit on Thursday afternoon.  She couldn’t have picked a better time.  I was feeling low, actually physically not well either, and her visit lifted me right up out of my fretting, causing me to forget my physical maladies and easing my troubled mind as well.  Spending time with a dear old friend proved to be the magic elixir to make me feel better that day.   As always, we never ran out of words to say, thoughts to convey, or stories to tell.

She knows my history and I know hers.  We’ve grieved together as we’ve lost loved ones to death, and our friendship is like a comforting shawl we can wrap ourselves in to protect us from the cold reality of this world.  When I read this quote, I thought of Mae:  “A person is only complete when she has a true friend to understand her, to share all her passions and sorrows with, and to stand by her throughout her life.” ~ Anonymous

I’ll see my friend Leigh when I attend her daughter’s high school graduation party soon, so I spoke with her last night by phone to tell her we’d be making the trip to her home for the festivities.   That conversation lasted over three hours! When I talk with this good friend, it really is like coming home.  As next-door neighbors growing up, she and I practically lived at each other’s houses.  I love her parents because they were always like second parents to me.

Leigh has always been someone with whom I can share my innermost thoughts – be they good or bad.  We often reminisce about our childhoods, so when I ran across this quote, I automatically thought of her: “When we are grown, we’ll smile and say we had no cares in childhood’s day, but we’ll be wrong. ‘Twill not be true, I’ve this much care… I care for you.” ~Anonymous

Obviously, I don’t get to see these friends every day or even very often.   But just when I need them, they are there for me.  I count that as the most amazing gift.

As I give thanks for these three dear ones on Page 16, Chapter 7, in my Opportunity book of life, I hope they view me as a gift as well – one of those rare gifts, the kind you never want to exchange for another, or re-gift to someone else, because you just want to treasure it for yourself since that’s the kind of gift they are to me.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up.”  ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-10


Lunch – a glimpse of heaven

Some people drift into our lives for just a short sojourn.  You’re friends with those people for a season.

I have always believed that those friendships exist for a reason, either to aid your friend along this journey called life or to encourage you.   But sometimes circumpexels-photo-761854.jpegstances change and the friendship goes by the wayside, just slowly fading away.

Some folks though are lifetime friends.  No matter what changes may occur, these special people  have been and will continue to be your friends for life.  Even if you don’t see them all the time, they are there for you when you really need them and vice versa.  And when you do reconnect, it’s like you’ve never been apart.

Recently I had lunch with one of my lifetime friends.  We’ve known each other since first grade and our friendship has stood the test of time for 50 years.  Unfortunately, we live far enough away from each other to prevent us from seeing one another often, but every couple of months or so, we arrange to meet for lunch at a mall restaurant midway between our homes.

My relationship with this friend is aptly described by a passage written in the 1800’s by English novelist and poet Dinah Mulock Craik in her novel, A Life For a Life“Friendship is the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring all right out just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful friendly hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of comfort, blow the rest away.”

That personifies the kind of friendship I experience when I am blessed to converse with this particular lifetime friend.  She is one of the few people with whom I can truly “let down my hair.”   She has known me for so long, in good times and not so good times.

I know I can share my innermost thoughts with her and she won’t criticize or judge me or walk away saying, “That girl’s nuts!”  I would trust this woman with my very life, and I only hope I am as great a friend to her as she is to me.

Our lunch was lengthy…well, not the actual eating of soup and salad,  but the conversation that followed was full and meaty.  We had so many life moments to catch up on – her daughter’s recent wedding, updates of my three adult children’s lives.

We shared joys – her young friend’s getting his heart transplant on Thanksgiving Day!  What an amazing answer to prayer!  We shared trials and tribulations.  And as always happens when we spend our quality time together, our discussion is seasoned with God’s Word.   We marvel at what God continues to accomplish in our lives and the insights He provides for us and teaches us.  What joy it is to share those things with a beloved believing friend!

Sharing time with a friend like this is such a treasure that you don’t want the occasion to end.  But we did comprehend the rather pointed hint from our waitress when she visited our table for the umpteenth time and asked, “Will there be anything else before you finally go?” (Huge emphasis on the word go!)  That prompted us to check our watches, realize we had been there for well over three hours, tip our waitress again and exit the restaurant.

But still we weren’t quite ready to depart, so we stood in the mall corridor and chatted some more, eventually sitting down on a bench to continue our conversation.   Time marches on though and we needed to wind up our day and head back to our homes, husbands and daily life.  Why is it that immensely enjoyable times like this must always come to an end?

I imagine my experience with my dear lifetime friend is just a very tiny glimpse of what heaven will be like.  We will fellowship with beloved believers, worshiping and praising our Almighty God face to face, and that fellowship we share will be so sweet, but – here’s the good part! – that blessed time will never, ever end!

“A true friend is the gift of God, and He only who made hearts can unite them.” ~Robert South, British minister