As we enter the heart of summer, I’ve been thinking about friendships, old and new. For example, I’m honored to follow my friend, Blair Monie, in writing these columns. Blair faithfully wrote these for many years, and it was a rich blessing to read them. It was an even richer blessing to be a pastor-neighbor with him, just up Preston Road from his congregation.
We probably didn’t meet as often as we could have during our joint tenures as pastors among you, but I certainly consider Blair my friend. He advised me quite helpfully on a couple of key issues, especially when we were building a columbarium at Northaven United Methodist Church, where I serve as senior pastor.
Some friendships are based on a common love and passion, like music. In addition to my ministry, I’m also a singer-songwriter. I’ve just returned from a week of vacation at the Kerrville Folk Festival where yearly I get the chance to reconnect with musician friends from all over the nation. These are friends I don’t see often, but we stay up late around the campfires and play our songs.
For me, friendship started right here in Preston Hollow. You see, while I have been a pastor among you for the past decade, I also grew up on these streets. I remember long, hot summers playing baseball at Preston Hollow Park. I even chipped a front tooth in the park pool, back in the days when there was a pool.
I grew up one street away from one of my oldest friends in the world, John. We’d ride our bikes to the park to play the aforementioned baseball, fantasizing that we were Pete Rose and Hank Aaron as we hit lazy fly balls into the summer sun. We’d ride down to the now-relocated 7-Eleven (previously on Hillcrest, just across from Temple Emanu-El) and buy baseball cards. And we’d camp out on the steps of the medical offices just behind the store and trade cards with each other, putting together our 1970s-era “dream teams.”
John is now a lawyer in California. But once or twice a year, he comes back to town. He’ll come to church at Northaven on Sunday, and we’ll have lunch afterward. And every time, we connect again just like we were still 10-year-olds. We are able to pick up right where we’ve left off, as if no time at all has passed. Such long-term friendships are a real treasure in any life.
When I concentrate on maintaining and deepening my personal and professional friendships, life simply works better. When I take time out of my busy schedule to connect with friends, it lowers my stress, my problems seem smaller, and life is fuller and richer.
This summer, make the decision to reconnect with one of your old friends. Summer is a great time to do it, since many regular activities slow down. Pick up the phone and reach out.
Elie Wiesel once said, “Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.”
Make the choice to rekindle yours this July.
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