Vol 3, Num 22 :: 2004.12.31 — 2005.01.13
Sometimes when I send out an e-mail soliciting articles from our regular contributors for a particular issue, I ask a leading question directed toward a specific person on the list. I did so for this issue on ?Friends & Family? in the hope that the Reverend Lawrence W. Farris would send in another edition of his late night thoughts (and, thankfully, he did).
Too infrequently, Rob and I meet with Larry (and sometimes his wife, Pat) for mutual encouragement and refreshing conversation. The last time we met, which was a couple of months ago, the topic of friendship came up. He had been thinking at the time about the notion that friendship is elevated as the highest human relationship in the Bible and his mention of this idea has stuck with me ever since so I?ve been anxious to share it with our readers.
With his comments, Larry inspired me to think about the power of friendship?and ultimately of a faith community?to enact change and to witness in a unique way to the deep and mysterious love of Christ. In part, this is why I am sad not to share a house with our friends, Jeff and Bri, any more. I think people could sense the presence of a powerful spirit in a house shared by four adult believers who had no blood connection, but who were supporting one another in their attempts to discover and carry out their unique roles in the Kingdom of God.
I also think this is why I?m so drawn to my aunts. It took me a long time to realize that my Aunt Marj and Aunt Sandy (who?s not my biological aunt?more on that later) have been living out for 22 years now the concept of ?intentional community? I?ve been so attracted to since high school. Friends since 1980 and housemates since 1982, Aunt Marj and Aunt Sandy have always come as a pair in my mind, hence the title of ?aunt? being applied to both equally, since I was born in 1979. They?ve purchased a home together, gone on vacations together, supported one another through difficult transitions and illnesses and I deeply admire their commitment to what is becoming, in our culture, an increasingly unorthodox living arrangement: two single women sharing life together as friends.
Like many married couples, they are complementary opposites in many ways, and I don?t doubt that their relationship takes as much effort to maintain as a marriage. However, because there are few contemporary models on which to base such a relationship, I think a certain wisdom is necessarily cultivated between the two and it?s this wisdom that I seek to absorb when I?m with them, along with the peace and joy that seems to emanate from such a stable relationship. I love them dearly and am grateful for the model they provide.
Likewise, I?m grateful for the model our friends, the Lagerwey family and the Boerman-Cornell family provide. I won?t go into detail here because we?ve already done an extensive story on their household, but they also have helped shape my thinking about the potential of family, friendship and faith to combine in such a way that the Kingdom becomes tangibly defined.
Over time, as I gather more examples of healthy friendships, I?m becoming more convinced that a community of believing friends provides necessary spiritual nourishment. The cultivation of such communities not only encourages, but in some cases constitutes cultural engagement that speaks to the Good News and points to Christ as Lord over all creation. In that belief, Rob and I will continue to enjoy fellowship and conversation with Larry, as well as Pat and Jeff and Bri and Marj and Sandy (among many others) and we will continue to seek and tell the stories that illuminate the ongoing biblical narrative in contemporary culture.