Sunday, April 18, 2010

Stellar Networking

Last night I counted the stars--for the first time seeing the moon and Saturn through a real telescope. Considering the constellations and the rich history behind them inspired me--the connections between the stars, the patterns they make, finding my way along the sky by the laser pointer of the kind gentleman who enthusiastically taught us what he knew.

This morning I find myself thinking about this in the context of the friendships that have sustained me over the years. I have albums and boxes and now digital scores of pictures from every treasured trip, many moments of joy and of milestone. Friends and family in them tell me about myself, in retrospect-- I can’t repay the debt of gratitude I have for my friendships except to honor and commemorate.

All this social networking has been a boon to friendship--I find deep delight in reconnecting with long lost friends as if we’d never had time and space between us: it’s a sort of alternate universe of friendship. I see connections now I hadn’t before--how the friends of my teen years reappear, in some ways, in friends from my graduate school years; how my tendency to make friends with people who not only understand me but somehow seem opposite of me have contributed to my soul. How God created in my life patterns of lessons through these friends.

As much as my friends have taught me, I hope I share something of value with them--a bit of myself, faith, love, hope, comfort. In my younger years I thought friendship was about being everything to one person, but in reality each one is a small part of the overall beauty of the individual life. Long ago I traded my childish ways of thinking about relationship for the richness of perspective, and I know I have more to learn--that’s the humbling part.

When I was 10, considering the unending universe created in me a sudden and overwhelming feeling awe. Some of these captured moments of memory remind me some things did happen, others didn’t, and some have yet to appear, just as the cycle of stars rotates in the seasonal sky. The photo of a best friend lounging in the waning sunset light across from me in a little restaurant by the sea recalls our conversation: that we would find husbands and drag them back here, to this spot, and have dinner, and feel good about how in the end, love came through for both of us. We have not made it back there yet, but love came through--in ways neither of us dreamed or expected. The photo of myself and a friend who brought me out at a time of my greatest need marks a source of true friendship and support. While during that time I thought nothing would be able to console my sorrow, looking at the picture I know countless times I have received the comfort of others exactly when I needed it.

There are many photos in my constellation of memory--so much more to know about the mysteries of these patterns. Each time I look up I find a new guide, teaching me what she knows. In the meantime, I will do the same--as enthusiastically as the kind old gentleman who swept the sky with his arm to show us how everything is in its place, how time is marked above us, and how in its timelessness, the patterns of our universe return to us like a long lost friend.

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