How do I even begin to describe a reunion of 5 women after a 40 year gap of relationship? To put it simply,
Tears rolled down my face for a few hours on my drive home. Cathartic release of my younger self’s fears, embarrassments, pains and hurts. Healing laughter from hilarious memories of teenage pranks and behaviors. Righting some misconceptions about words said and actions taken that left marks and even scars on our psyches. And a sense of profound gratefulness over the place I find myself now, my husband and all the decisions that brought us to where we are in life at this time. As I walked in the house, attacked by Maggy’s hysterical display of happiness at my homecoming, I took my husband’s face in my hands and thanked him for who he is, what he does for me and for being the very best thing that ever happened to me in this life (okay, next to Jesus).
He was speechless
After we arrived there was a time of reconnecting, catching up on each other’s stories. Careers, marriages, children, education, parents, travels and all the various components of 40 years of living. I was so surprised at the things I never knew about my friends while we were in school! Teenage years are pretty narcissistic so it really isn’t surprising when you think about it. Survival was my personal adolescent mode (though it may have looked different) and my priorities were pretty much all about me. I loved piecing the puzzles of our lives together, hearing the details I missed as a teen and learning how they played a role in our adult lives. And everyone wants an answer to the age old question of “Huh?”
One of the themes that I consistently find among people who’ve grown up in churches or religious institutions, is the well meaning abuse from it’s leaders. It could be parents, friends or even a pastor, in our case it was well meaning teachers and administrators. Our school was in it’s infancy as a High School, our teachers were barely 30yrs old, the era of church history was under extreme pressure from shifting societal norms and the Baby Boom culture of the 50’s had ended, at least in California. Viet Nam, feminism, drugs, casual sex, technology and even music were shaping behaviors that churches and religious institutions had no clue how to respond to. Their default reaction was typically, harsh criticism of the behaviors absent any kindness. Mercy, (which is actually God’s to bestow) wasn’t regularly given. Why is it that the people who should be demonstrating the very best of Jesus toward their fellow humans so often get it wrong? Talking about all of this in a weekend was more valuable than a year’s worth of professional therapy and a lot less expensive.
Life is not easy, fair or just. All of us had and still do suffer in various ways. All of us experienced forms of parental misconduct and even abuse. All of us could cite painful sibling relationships and friendships gone astray. Some had even experienced dissolved marriages and children lost. I can’t remember a time, even among my fellow faith sisters, when I allowed myself to be so vulnerable. It was an entirely safe place and I never once felt criticized for my life experiences and choices. Acceptance is an invaluable gift and I embraced it. Eventually we resorted to discussing health problems, surgeries and our chronic aches and pains. Stereotypical age talk? Sure, but it was comforting. The medical profession goes out of it’s way to blame extra weight for every ill known to mankind and it was nice to know the skinny gals suffer too!
The laughter was extraordinary. Though we lamented our physical infirmities we more than helped heal them with laughter. Scientifically, laughter is a healing force as strong as exercise and way easier on the joints. It boosts the immune system, contributes to heart health, lowers stress hormones, decreases pain and relaxes muscles. Solomon said “A merry heart is good medicine” so we should all be HEALED (cue my Oral Roberts voice). We laughed uproariously, heartily, loudly and often. And like a radiation half life, I will be chuckling over our stories for months.
God bless infectious laughter!
With the invention of a smart phone anyone can know the truth about anything in a flash and we were no slouches. Consulting Google was our “Go to” method for keeping us honest. From looking up Brangelina’s status to fact checking Dr. Atkins’ death we had it covered! No untruth would be left behind at this event. Mornings found us in pjs with phones, tablets, blankets and coffee (while delicious homemade cinnamon rolls and waffles cooked), ready to illuminate each other for the day. Cat videos, political memes, SNL bits, music, family FB updates, Instagram and even cooking tips all added to the conversations. In fact, the first question (post supply hauls) on arrival was “What’s the wifi password?” In thinking about it, this was an event born of technology so our addiction–completely normal.
The best takeaway for me from my Weekend With the Broads, was how incredibly rich it can be to reunite with people you never anticipated reuniting with. Truth to tell, I tried to run with the church crowd more than the school crowd. After leaving CA I never looked back to these years or these friendships. I lean heavily existential, where I am is where I’m at. But this, this was a moment in my life I will cherish-always. Loving, invincible, hilarious and smart women all. The weekend opened my eyes to the value of having people in my life who “knew me when…”
I am grateful
As I go forward my prayer is this: That we all experience the depth of God’s rich love for us, his nearness to our heartbreak and time of need, and that intimacy with Him is like the intimacy we shared together this weekend. HE is faithful, trustworthy and above all,
He is a Good Father.