A Letter To A Friend – The Art of Noticing “Real” Friends

Today is Day 22

Dear You,

I want to proclaim you, rejoice you, celebrate you and delight in you. Have you seen this series, here, this 31 Days, The Art of Noticing? Well my dear today is Day 22 and today is your birthday. Here ,this tribute is for you, to you, your heart, your soul but above all, your amazing ability to draw on the gifts and life around you. To ingest them, invest  them by serving and loving. Here is your bursday present. You know how much I adore the you I have grown to know and love.

harriett stoney and elizabeth happy

You know we could discuss the title. For hours. What is a real friend anyway. And we could debate the meaning of true and real. Afterall what is a unreal friend. You know maybe you are an unreal friend.

Do you remember last year on October 22, your birthday, I wrote a little letter to you, here, it was called Encouragement, A Letter To A Friend.  A few people read that letter, 2,028 to be exact from around the interweb. And you and I would scratch our heads and wonder how they found this place and the letter I wrote to you. And we’d probably agree how happy we are a few more people discovered when your birthday is. That is good. Or maybe we’d celebrate the fact they they get to hear my testimony to what you are and who you are to this world, and especially me.

That was a year ago. People forget. And we hate it when people repeat themselves. It is so boring. So gauche. And so not charming. So I won’t say it exactly like I did last year. They can go back and read that post. H, do you know the reason this blog is here. Because you are an encourager. And you serve up straight talk without a side of sugar coating. You are a giver, not a taker, an inexhaustible source of encouraging words and actions. You told me I had to write. Your words were stronger than that. Gentle and bold. Sure and certain.

So it is only appropriate for this to be the place to weave words, string them along and along, like the strand of pearls you so faithfully wear. And that you would have a day. Day 22. Do you like that.
You would goad me and tease me and remind me to always point to Him. So I will, He has saved our backsides and frontsides and insides so many times. And loved us. Always loved us with mercy and grace. And you, his hands and feet, have saved me from despair and sadness. Confusion and the “I’m about to have a nervous breakdown but it is just so damn inconvenient right now” times.

So is that a real friend? One who loves through the dark and delights in the times of light and laughter. Bridges the bleak times and weak times, the  times of want, crossing over to the times of plenty.

There are no shortages of those. By his grace. And we like those better don’t we. The times on the porch, at the farm, in the creek, at Secret Beach, where we can have olive shell contests and laugh and dream and scheme and relish the in between. We prefer the days of poetry and praise, of watching our children grow, fall in love, accomplish a task, overcome a set back, bring home a friend who gives life and knows Truth. Become a woman or a man, of God.

We’d prefer to float in our boats with our men. To leave behind the worry of work and the pressures of life. To see them exhale and breathe in salt air. To open a beer and slip in a lime and wiggle our toes and let go of time. To see the very last streak of orange and pink. To  stay off shore until we have to come in. To turn up the music and dance crazy silly in our hearts.

And we  go without days, though painful and dry, without talking or saying a word. But running on fumes of love that is stored. Deep in the places where friendship is placed. Though trials have come, some that are too awful to name, we know in our knowers that if we face them again, we can and we will. Because we are real friends.

And you know I would say it again, like I did before. If you go first, save me a seat. And warm a Charleston Green rocker with a wonderful view of the sea. Because we know our God well and we know our God deep. And there is no way  in this world that His heaven won’t have a wonderful view of the porpoise and shrimp boats on Jeremy Creek.

I love you. You bless me every single day of my life. I can’t remember before I knew you but I know there were years. You make life exciting and beautiful, glamorous and fantabulous.

Happy birthday, H. If you go first I will never forgive you. But then you would insist that I do. So okay I will. But I’d rather you not leave me a day on this earth, to live and to breathe and to celebrate living.

Take care of yourself.
Happy Day of Your Birth

I love you, I do. Happy Day 22.

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(Today is Day 22. Thank you as always for being here, for following along on this journey. If you wish to leave a birthday wish to my precious friend H, I will pass it on to her. She is my confidant, my accountability partner, my sister in Christ, and my closest friend. We raise children and husbands together and walk out our faith together with love and friendship and lots and lots of words between us.)

Harriett and I and the cross

Wink, Blink, Nod and Noticing

Today is Day 16

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Wink, Blink, Nod and Noticing

She noticed between blinks
And after she wiped the sleep
From her eyes, deposited in the dead of night
By the one who comes when she dreams
The same one who deposits poetry on her pillow
Or so it seems

She added a second to her gaze
Stared long enough to penetrate the foggy haze
Caught with her net the moments and minutes
The instants worth saving suddenly seem infinite.

She felt it in breathes,  found more in between beats of her heart
They slipped from the shadows, these new moments she now
Noticed, every
Wink, blink and stare
Time floats through the air
Sails with the greatest of ease
While we are sleeping and eating and saying our prayers.

She noticed that it was the smallest of things
That she held  both tight with all her might
And had carelessly missed, they slipped
Through  her fingers and into the cracks
This new realignment, adjusted her heart
To see all that was precious, tiny and small

The voice on the phone reminded her of this
And she, the detester of cliche and worn weary phrase
Adopted the words in heart  that day
Anyway
As she travelled half blind down the highway
Shrouded in worry, dwelling on things she had missed.

This is not a dress rehearsal
This is for real
Do-overs are rarely part of the plan
This is it, this is all, this is the real deal.
This side of heaven, it’s gift to hold loose in our hand

For all the grace and forgiveness
She soaks in like a dry rag
She’s comes to know
In the blink of an eye
And  a wink of her soul
As she nods her head at the truth
Of what she’d been told.

This is your life
Don’t blink
Act One
Act Two
And the final one too
What you are doing and saying
From New York, to Paris, to Kalamazoo
It is true

It is  now
This minute
Though paved with His goodness and  oodles of  grace

She was reminded
She is breathing and living
These days of her life
So she vows to renew
Her vows
To soak in and notice it all
Including not excluding the pain
And suffering
Disappointment and shame

And that makes the road
The one paved with grace
More important than ever
As
She recalls the valuable

Advise of a sage
Who told her repeatedly
This life, it  isn’t a race

We are winners
Sojourners, journeymen
Fellow travellers here

Noticing
Noticing
Noticing it all
From the moment the sun breaks
Until nightfall
And more important than anything else, the middle
The moments, the center, the time in between
These are the greatest, the smallest
The most important
Small things.
The repetitions of extraordinary
Ordinary
Daily routines.
The cream of an Oreo
The jelly in a jelly doughnut

Wink and its over
Blink and its gone
She’ll lay her head down
On soft goose down
And nod off tonight like she does every one
Knowing tomorrow she’ll vow yet again
To go forth from slumber
A new song she’ll sing
A song filled with promise and hope
Into the land that has a new name
Wink, Blink and Nod
And now
Noticing.
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Ready, Set, Go Notice