I hung out with my missional community from Emmaus last night, and ended up at the Browns' house until after midnight. I kept feeling like it was time to go, and felt badly for having invaded their house for so long, but each time I thought about leaving, a new topic was brought up and I HAD to stay.
The missional community has been a changing experience for me. Extroverted as I am, I typically hate things that are in groups bigger than three, and so the idea of committing to meet weekly with a group that grew consistently was hardly appealing. But in a very short time I found that it was honestly a joy to be with other people who weren't afraid of wrestling with the hard questions of life, and who were dissatisfied with the perfect, packaged answers they had been given. I found people who were willing to be real, even when that meant admitting failure, or asking questions that were selfish, or even simply confessing that sometimes the mere ideas of God and faith plain wore them out and made them wish for home and a strong drink.
The best nights were when we recognized, again and again, that we were all experiencing the same questions, the same failures, the same confusions. And in the midst of all of that, I discovered that these were people who I loved. So the girl who hates groups found herself waking on Thursday mornings excited to see these other confused, excited, frustrated and joy-filled people Thursday night, and that has never happened before.
Today was similarly filled with friends, but each meeting was one-on-one, over coffee, gelato and Arrested Development, respectively. If I could get paid to live my perfect life, I think it would look like today. That might be incredibly hedonistic, but it seems that these kind of days are what I'm best at. If I can hang out, share stories, share time, and write, I don't know what else I would need. Everyone has that, I think: some people would fish all day; I would talk and listen and drink coffee. And today, Jessie, Ben and Christina managed to give me that.
Jessie and I went to Anna Banana's in St. John's, and we talked about her trip through Italy, and dozens of other things. These are my favorite conversations. You start with a goal, something like your recent travels, and by the end of the couple hours, you've covered the country, your love lives, the best book you've ever read, the state of the health care system, your aggravating coworker, the last time you cried and your favorite recess game in third grade. (For the record, these topics are not what was discussed, but you get the idea.)
Ben and I went to Staccato Gelato (a shocking break from the normal ice cream routine), and it was again a lovely exercise in "Why on earth are we still hanging out?" Ben and I went to college together, and when he graduated, he would come down every few months and visit. Over time, everyone but me drifted to other towns, and we kept meeting. Eventually it became a monthly event, and it has continued since my move to Portland. I see Ben nearly every month, we have ice cream, we don't talk a whole lot, and yet somehow we both enjoy it. And three weeks on, we're texting one another, saying that's it's almost a new month, and are we going to see each other soon? It still makes little sense to me, and that makes me love it more.
Christina lives just across the road from me, and navigated her seminary career alongside mine. Now we've both graduated, managed to move a couple blocks from campus, and had multiple existential crises (Technically, I can't say for sure she's had an existential crisis. But I know she's helped me through mine.). She baked a delicious banana bread (without nuts, the correct way), I brought a bottle of leftover sparkling cider I stole from Robin's wedding stash, and we watched Arrested Development and laughed and laughed some more. I never seem to get tired of being around her...she's bubbly and joyous, but grounded and realistic at the same time.
All of this has reminded me, for the thousandth time this summer, how blessed I am by good friends and supportive people. It doesn't seem to matter whether the issue at hand is vital or insignificant, or even if there is no issue (though this is incredibly rare)--I always have someone in my corner. This blog is a perfect example of that.
No one has seen this blog, except possibly for the friends I have followed. The address has not gone out--only a mention that I have started one. The amount of encouragement (and apparent interest) has been incredible. Whether it's worthy of the interest will remain to be seen, but I have been so surprised by the response. I figured that the mention of launching a blog would gather a collective yawn, sort of like the mention of getting a tattoo. Everyone's done it, and people are interested to see the results, maybe, but they're hardly going to bother going with you to get it done.
Meanwhile, I have people promising to read it, an offer for guest pieces on the page, and an open invitation to Beer and Blog, along with a buddy so I don't just wimp out and stay home. All in all, it sort of heightens my sense of uncertainty, but in a gorgeous way. I hesitate to use the last two days as some kind of micro-view of my life, but it's there already, so let's run with it.
Nothing in my life has changed in the last two days. I don't have a job, don't have more money, and have not met anyone new. Even without any formal or formative change, I feel like things are happening, things are brewing, things are starting. I'm sure it's partly due to the new creative outlet, if we can call this such a thing, but I think it's largely the repeated realization of the amount of love and support I have around me. The fact that there are people who want to hang out with this girl, who trips regularly, talks too loudly and too much, curses at traffic, spills things, is overly opinionated, breaks things, doesn't return phone calls, forgets things, is tragically unhip, drops things and is constantly overdramatic and longwinded astounds me.
It tells me I am in a very good place.