Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Five FRIENDS

Friday Five Friends

Revgal Jan writes
Ever since I found out I could be the hostess for the third Friday Five of each month, I have not been able to get the thought of friends out of my mind. Being an only child (all growed up) who moved around a lot in my lifetime, friends have always been very important to me. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: "The way to have a friend is to be a friend."

So today let's write about the different kinds of friends we have, like childhood friends, lost friends, tennis friends, work friends, and the list goes on. List 5 different types of friends you have had in your life and what they were/are like.

As a bonus, put a link to a new (to you) blogging friend and introduce us!

It is very interesting that Jan has brought up this topic. In my parish, the women’s study group has been reading Joan Chittister’s The Friendship of Women. In it, Sr. Joan uses various women in the Bible to characterize the kinds of friendship that illustrate the kinds of friends that we women develop. It was an especially lovely book when I picked it up last year and read it for my spiritual reading. I heartily recommend it.

1. J. is my BF. We have lived together for over 30 years. We are not lovers but I guess after 30 years we could call ourselves “partners”. J. is straight and I am lesbian. Shortly after I left the convent and as I was beginning to understand my vocation to the priesthood (in the mid ‘70’s before TEC was ordaining women) I met J. at a women’s ministry group led by the Rev. Mary Bruggeman. It was a heady time when many of the mainline denominations were considering the ordination of women. J. was one of the first women priests regularly ordained. I eventually became an Episcopalian and was ordained 5 yrs later. We found that we did not do well living alone and that ministry was just too difficult by ourselves. We found that life was just much better when we had s someone to come home to. This does not mean that we see eye to eye on everything; we are both strong women. But our relationship allows us to have ‘community’, that sense of being enveloped in love and respect that allows us to go “once more into the fray” each morning. Last week when the NY assembly voted to support same-sex marriage, I asked J. if she wanted to get married. We both laughed. “It wouldn’t be any different than most of the marriages of people our age”, she said. I doubt if we will do that since it isn’t what we want to say about our love for each other. But it might be nice to get the tax break.

2. J&D—are a couple. They joined my parish in my first call back in the early 80’s. I have moved all over the country since that parish, but J&D have stayed “up” with each other. A phone call, or a short visit keeps our lives primed to the kind of love that is ready when any of us need it. My present church is in the next small village from theirs and we get to see each other upon occasion. We are very careful not to intrude upon the pastor/parishioner boundaries that continue with relationship with their rector. We are FRIENDS and the expectations are different. We are considering a trip to Europe together. They are a bit younger than we are, but we enjoy so many of the same things that I think that it would be great fun.

3. I met H. at church just after I lost my parish in the dio. She was a therapist and I need a therapist in the worst way. The bishop promised to pay her fee and we began to do some of the best work in therapy that I have ever done. But the bishop refused to pay for her services when she submitted her bill. I was shocked and angry and had no insurance. I was also without an income. H. agreed to see me without pay. After several years of therapy, we realized that our sessions were becoming less therapeutic and more friendly and we ended our professional relationship. But we continue to see each other weekly for breakfast. She has become the supervisor of the counseling that the ministry requires. And I have become her spiritual director—i.e. friends. Yes, it is a bit of blurring of those proper boundaries, but we are respectful of what it means to be our special selves.

4. B. was the moderator of a list-serve I joined some years ago. He was as conservative as I was liberal but I enjoyed the group that I had met on line. He was blind and pastored in the deep south. He maintained many of the “bubba” mentality that had finally forced me from my southern roots back in the ‘70’s. But he was a kind person and I could not just delete him. He was especially bad about LGBT issues just as I was coming out and claiming who I was. We finally began a long and rather torturous conversation off the list serve in which I talked about how I understood myself as a lesbian. He began to share some very difficult encounters with gay men in his youth. What came out was his fear of his own sexuality. It was one of the holiest and honest discussions I have ever had with a colleague. He did a 180 degree change on LGBT issues. We often talked on the phone. When I went to volunteer after Katrina, I visited with he and his wife. A couple of years ago he had a massive heart attack and died. The list-serve had stopped at that point and there was no group with whom I could grieve. I couldn’t even reach his wife to offer my condolences. Perhaps it was the anonymity of the internet that allowed us to become close, but the love and support we had for one another was part of our own spiritual growth. His friendship will always be with me.

5. C. was my BF G’s mother when I was in Jr. High. C taught school, I didn’t know her as a teacher. She was just G’s mom. The relationship with my own parents was often strained in my teen years. C’s was always calm. She let me talk and she listened. She never judged. G and I lost contact after her marriage. But always I would visit C. She was always glad to see me. She was the only member of my life as a youth that encouraged me when I wanted to go to seminary. Whenever I visited my family, I would always visit C. Some years ago I visited and realized that C. was failing. Her normally sharp mind was no longer there. Last year G. called me to tell me that her mother had passed. They asked me to do the funeral. What a privilege that was!

Bonus: I would like you to meet Elizabeth who blogs at She is one of the most prolific bloggers I know and is wonderfully funny. She is also very savvy about Episcopal matters. I met her when I was a senior in seminary and she came to visit the campus. I have watched her grow into a wonderfully articulate lover of Jesus and a champion of LGBT and women’s issues in the Church. It is always such a delight to see one who comes after you excel and carry on the message that God is love. I hope to see her next month when some Anglican bloggers get together.


Sally said...

I love your honesty and humanity in#1, how wonderful to find such love and friendship.

Jan said...

Just have to ask--Is Rev. Mary Brueggemann the daughter of revered Walter Brueggemann?

Your relationship with your best friend is so beautiful and fun! I envy you such a long-term friendship that is also in close proximity.

Thank you for your reflections, which are very descriptive.

Barbara B. said...

I really loved reading your answers!!

(And I need to check out "The Friendship of Women"...)

Unknown said...

How wonderful that you figured out what you both needed!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks for your courageous words of truth, my dear. You tell your story with authenticity and great integrity. And, thanks for your kind words about me. My blog has not be so 'prolific' lately. Allergies have me down for the count.