Hunter, Tennessee, near Watauga River
“Computers can figure out all kinds of problems,
except the things in the world that just don’t add up.”
Seeger Chapel, Milligan College
“There is no wilderness like a life without friends;
friendship multiplies blessings and minimizes misfortunes;
it is a unique remedy against adversity,
and it soothes the soul.”
Baltasar Gracian, 1601-1658
Spanish philosopher and Jesuit scholar
This past weekend was my annual Girls Weekend with several of my college friends. Every year since our 10th reunion, we rent a cabin in Blowing Rock, NC, for a long weekend and sit around catching up, reminiscing, and sharing some old and new laughs. We don’t just sit — there’s plenty of shopping and eating. We often fall into old conversations and pick up where we left off — either the year before or 16 years before.
But also mixed into the weekend are the occasional, more serious conversations — the discussions where we find out how one another is really doing in life. You see, we all started our adult lives together. We were once young, naive, and ready to conquer the world. It was before any of us really knew what we wanted to do in life. We had dreams. We had ideas. We had fears. We occasionally shared them in late night chats in the dorm or when we were forced into discussions by the challenges that face 20 year olds.
Then suddenly we had graduated and were forced out into the real world to figure it out. We figured out a few things here and there. Years passed. Life happened. By our 10th reunion, life had taught us all some lessons. One of us had lost a beloved parent. A few married. We’d all found jobs and eventually careers. We had somehow all become adults. And we realized that even though we all have our own lives now, we all still need each other. Because sometimes we’re still young and naive but not-so-ready to conquer the world. We still have a few dreams and ideas left, but we’re also scared of what the world will next offer, what God next has in store for us. We may be older and in some ways wiser, but we’re still just putting one foot in front of the other each day and truly “livin’ on a prayer.”
So thanks to my dear old friends. Thanks for being there for the past 18 years (wow, we ARE old). Thanks for one weekend a year when we can all strip away our walls and layers and just be who we were before life happened. And thanks for the security of knowing that we’re there for each other as life continues to happen. Joys and sorrows. Thanks for growing old together.
“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
“When you find yourself facing an issue in your life,
the purpose or reason or good thing that might come out of it
being completely hidden from you—what do you do? Do you worry and fret,
become preoccupied with the problem? Do you ignore it or avoid it?
Do you complain about it, do you want to run away from it?
Or do you see it as a situation in which you might be able to experience
the power and grace of God at work? Do you watch
for the work of God that is to be done in this situation?”
Fr. John Yates
Blue Hole, middle falls
“Keep a clear eye toward life’s end. Do not forget your purpose
and destiny as God’s creature. What you are in His sight is what
you are and nothing more. Remember that when you leave
this earth, you can take nothing that you have received…
but only what you have given; a full heart enriched by
honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.”
Francis of Assisi, 1181-1226
“Letters to Rulers of People”
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.
The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy,
while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
John Muir, 1838-1914
One of first modern preservationists
& founder of the Sierra Club
“We get so preoccupied with ourselves, the words we speak, the plans and projects
we conceive that we become immune to the glory of creation. We barely notice
the cloud passing over the moon or the dewdrops clinging to the rose leaves.
The ice on the pond comes and goes. The wild blackberries ripen and wither.
The blackbird nests outside our bedroom window. We don’t see her.
We avoid the cold and the heat. We refrigerate ourselves in summer
and entomb ourselves in plastic in winter. We rake up every leaf as fast as it falls.
We are so accustomed to buying prepackaged meats and fish and fowl
in supermarkets we never think and blink about the bounty of God’s creation.
We grow complacent and lead practical lives.
We miss the experience of awe, reverence, and wonder.”
Brennan Manning, Ragamuffin Gospel
author, priest, speaker