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.