Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The tale of five friends

Writer's note: This is an example of not writing what you woke up thinking about because you didn't really want to write about it even though you really did.

Pat's tagline for his blog, Urban Saddle, is "An experiment in writing." I like that, because blogging sure is a different medium. I give you, then, the tale of five friends, which is truly an experiment in writing.


Don't walk in front of me

I may not follow
Don't walk behind
I may not lead
Walk beside me
And just be my friend.

(Albert Camus)

So...this morning and this evening I'll be seeing two women. I thought our friendships were irreparable, dead, and yet these two women are dearer to me than they were in the first blush of friendship--they are women that I celebrate and that celebrate me. I'm having dinner with Kelly (yes, there are a lot of Kellys) and I'm seeing Sally before work (yes, there are a lot of Sallys, too.)

Writer's note: Sally is a specific alias (all the Sallys have the same root name), Kelly is an alias that applies to most friends with the letter K at the beginning. Assume that most names in my blog are aliases.

Kelly is a woman I met when I was exploring being Catholic. I was a true blue Catholic, confession and Eucharist for about one year. I attended daily mass for about three years, while I was in Virginia, started the RCIA (adult class to become a Catholic) class there, and returned to Pittsburgh, where my Presbyterian church had a new minister. For the year I was in grad school, I floundered. I basically got to church at the tail end of the sermon every week. I was thankfully back with the women at my Tuesday morning Bible Study, women that have sustained me on and off since my sophomore year of college. So I was getting fed on Tuesday but not so much on Sunday. This post is clearly becoming about my spiritual walk, not about my four friends and I, so let's get back on track.

Kelly and I followed similar paths: she was raised Catholic, "became" Protestant during college, through Campus Crusade for Christ. After college, she attempted to raise support so that she could go into ministry with CCC and her Catholic friends and family would not support her. They encouraged her to reexamine her Catholic roots, which she did, and she is now a stronger Christian and Catholic as a result. I had a similar, but opposite path: I was raised Protestant and when I went to Virginia to learn how to be a functioning bipolar as opposed to a non-functioning one, I started attending daily Mass at the local Catholic church. I still went to church at the local Baptist church most Sundays, and attended a fellowship for young adults at a nearby Episcopal church (actually, The Falls Church, which is what named the town in which my parents reside.)

When I returned to Pittsburgh, I met a young man in my evening Bible Study who was Catholic and a student at CMU. At the time, there was Sunday evening mass at CMU and since (see above) I was not getting fed Sunday mornings, I decided to attend Mass again. I did not take communion, as I was still Protestant, but I started thinking--if this is where I'm spiritually fed, I should be able to take communion. So, the short story is that I contacted the Newman Center, worked with a nun to prepare for becoming a Catholic on Easter. Which I did. So I broke ties (not completely) with my Protestant church and moved forward, now, as a Catholic. At the time, my therapist was trying to get me to date someone, anyone. So when another client of hers told her how he had met his future wife through Catholic Alumni Club, she recommended it to me. Which is how I met Kelly.

Catholics have wonderful traditions and one of them is that Mass on the first Friday of a month is particularly sacred. So CAC had a tradition of picking a parish, meeting there, and having dinner afterwards. On that fateful Friday, I decided to try this tradition out and hopefully also meet some folks. Kelly and her friends also decided to check out CAC. After Mass, we all went out to an Italian restaurant and Kelly and I sat next to each other and just clicked. She and her friends decided that they would meet me at the CAC dance in a few weeks. Kelly and I started emailing. All of us were disappointed by the dance and became sort of disenchanted with CAC. I went to a few picnics but didn't meet anyone male or female that seemed interested in widening their circle of friends to include me. Kelly and I stayed in touch and I went out to visit her for a weekend. (She lives in Ohio.)

Can you see that I still am not really writing what the title purports, not really?

Anyways, our friendship was pretty strongly based on the fact that we were two Catholic girls. So when I started attending the OD Sunday evenings in addition to Sunday Mass (where, guess what? I wasn't getting fed) and eventually just went back to my Protestant church and did Sunday morning and Sunday evening and eventually just Sunday evening, Kelly was not thrilled. Rather, she felt that I was going back on the entire basis of our friendship. So last year, we met for dinner for my birthday and I wrote about the anticipation here.

We stayed in contact, but it wasn't the same.

Okay, it is almost 8:30 and I still haven't gotten to why I'm writing "the tale of five friends."

Fast forward: Kelly and I are now stronger friends and accepting of each other's denominational differences. We're having dinner at IKEA tonight.

Sally and I went through years of not talking, mostly because of geography (she moved ten blocks away) and children (she now has two.) We have overcome both of those hurdles.

Alleluia, Amen!

But I have two friendships that are frozen. I don't feel like talking to them and it seems it's mutual since we've subsisted to email or text messaging. Yesterday at women's Bible study, Beth Moore talked to us about Joseph and Jacob/Israel and the boyz and reconciling with folks.

After all this writing, I see that I may just need to give up trying to fix my life and these friendships and wait for organic opportunities. (Organic is Babelbabe's word for just let life happen.)

'Cause here's the thing: sometimes you know why you don't seem to have a common ground for conversation and sometimes you do. And sometimes time is all you need. And sometimes you need an intervention. But it ain't gonna happen overnight. And as my hero Jim Collins says about business: inside that black box is another black box. There are no easy formulas.

So that's the tale of five friends. It's 8:30. I'm getting breakfast and getting ready for work.


Amy said...

I have yet to discern exactly what the huge conflict is between Catholics and Christians (I know some of the differences, but I'm never able to make those differences explain the reason why some Christians don't consider Catholics Christian, etc.) I am happy to find friends who believe in God, and live a life that reflects that. Whatever denomination they choose.

Carolyn said...

Friends are important. They're one of the reasons we live longer than men!

Sarah Louise said...

Carolyn, that is a very astute observation.

I'm like Phoebe (yes, another Friends reference) my friends are the most important things to me.

Which is why I hate the conflict, yet I'm learning that you have to have conflict to grow...

Sunny said...

Really enjoyed your BLOG so much to read HOPE to come back
god bless your DAY
We have to Pray the holy spirit bring us together in LOVE..
I have been interceeding for Protestants in this area They seem so judgemental... Theology is imporatant But we know our Lord through the Holy spirit...
Prais his lovely name...
i have some Roman catholic friends who are beautiful

Sunny said...

See marvelous Blog on my BLOG from devout Roman catholic lady who home schools 5 children plus new adopted baby.....
There is a pic and arcticle on her Mary Vitamin the Blog is amazing
She lives in guatemala