hugs and other such wonders

The last week has been spent gallivanting around and taking in the many manifestations of beauty that are to be found in the Pacific NW. My friends and I have witnessed many amazing things, from the misty coast with its towering sea-stacks to the dazzlingly bizarre displays of urban creativity, from the bucolic wine country to the small host of snow-covered mountains standing guard over the fragrant pine forests and waterfalls cascading over shimmering rocks and mossy logs. It’s been utterly refreshing and exhausting at the same time.

It simply feels wonderful to be running around with these friends again, to be able to slip back into that easy state of being where I am profoundly known by others and where I know them in return. I don’t have to defend myself, and how I bear myself is not an apologetic but a simple expression of personality.

Some people think vulnerability is dangerous and taxing. I get that. It takes a while to build trust, to believe you won’t be torn up and cast aside the moment you are honest with someone. But having had the chance to live in a community where I could be vulnerable without fear, it has become comfortable. That doesn’t mean it’s easy or devoid of risk – being vulnerable is never safe, by definition – but it is so profoundly good that having to live any other way feels wrong, itchy, and almost perverse.

I have come to see this happy existence as a gift, not a right. It’s a gift because it is something that can only be had if others give it to you. It is impossible to unilaterally establish a community of vulnerable ease. But praise God that we need each other to truly live the abundant life, that we can never simply remain inside ourselves, happy hermits whose universes are contained and so drably uninterrupted by the urgent presence of others.

I love how my friends constantly impress themselves into me – with their sudden laughter, wit, prayers, wisdom, tears, passions, and life. I feel like, if I really am clay, then they are the fingers of God which move and mold me into a greater semblance of the Potter’s design. And I, in turn, shape them. What a daunting thought. What a beautiful, frightening, thing.

They leave tomorrow, and that really sucks. On the plus side, I’ll finally catch up on emails and reading and learning how to coax some semblance of music out of my poor, neglected guitar. But though I still have email and Facebook and other such things, I will lose them – their bodies, their buoyant energy.

For when their fingers dig into my back in a joyful hug I know I am being molded into the likeness of my Savior, and such a blessed reminder is a hard thing to watch board an airplane.

So praise God for good friends and good hugs, and a wonderful week of being alive.


4 thoughts on “hugs and other such wonders

  1. I know how that is. I feel that way around my high school friends in particular. When you know each other so well, there is such an ease to interactions. No one needs to be impressed.

  2. I hear you. I’ve been thinking about that a lot this past couple of weeks. I’ve been almost exclusively around someone who doesn’t give me that gift of being myself, with whom I can’t be open. It’s been a lonely time. (A good and growing time, but nonetheless, makes me so much more thankful for the many friends I have with whom I can share this gift). Thanks for expressing it so beautifully.

  3. I’m currently crashing on the couch of a good college friend who I’m visiting over my summer vacation — we’re both teachers, so we’re lucky that we get the time during the summer to see each other like this. I also just visited some friends who I knew back when they were dating. They’re married now, and are expecting a child. It’s so amazing to have been a part of their story, and to have seen it from its beginnings until where it is now.

    That’s the best thing about my longtime friends, to me. It’s the fact that I get to see how they’ve changed, see how they’ve matured, see how a girl who once asked us to pray about dating a guy who had a daughter from a previous relationship is now a loving, wonderful stepmother and expecting mother. It’s cool to see how friends have grown and established careers, and how they’ve learned to love each other in awesome ways. Part of me wishes I had stayed in town after graduating, like everyone else did, but I’m also amazed and humbled by the fact that when I come back to town, everyone’s here to welcome me with open arms. Hugs are indeed one of life’s great wonders.

  4. This. is. fantastic.

    I just started reading this blog, but I think it’s great. This essay in particular captures so much of how I feel about my close Christian friends. I went to college as a devout atheist, but for some odd reason went to a devoutly Catholic liberal arts college in New England. There I met some of the most amazing guys I could imagine, and they were all devout Catholics. Long story shirt, I converted to Catholicism halfway through, and eventually admitted to some of my dearest friends, who had been major parts of my conversion, that I was gay. God Bless them, it didn’t change a thing, and now they understand why their pure brotherly friendship is so darned important to me. It’s actually improved my friendships with them, because it explained a lot of my odd personality quirks to them. They know me better, and can help me be a better man, because they know this about me.

    Anyway, it’s great to read something like this coming from guys my age who are trying to live life the Christian way despite it. It’s what I need right now, and I imagine there are plenty more like me who need it to. So thank you very much.

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