Lately, I find myself thinking about people. About relationships long, short, permanent, and transient. I lived in the same city from the time I was three years old, in the same house from the time I was five until I went to college. I have a friend whom I have been friends with since we were both in preschool, and every time I make a trip to the homestead, we still make a point to at least have a cup of coffee and touch base. While Sandy is perhaps my closest of my old home-friends, there are still a lot of friends I am happy to see when I visit my family in Missouri. But, like a lot of people, I went to college in another state, to a university where more people were from "away" than not. And I made friends. Some friendships lasted only one semester before sliding into acquaintance, and some lasted through my four years in Arkansas. Some are Facebook friends, or Christmas card friends, and a few are still really-good-phone-call-I'm-coming-to-visit-kindred-spirit friends. (there's also that guy I married....best friend!) Fast forward to Houston, then Wilmington, NC, then Austin, then back to Houston. And I know that many people move a lot more and more often than I have, but even moving that much results in a lot of paths crossing. A lot of relationships. A lot of life intersecting with other life. A lot of community, and deep bonds, and family-building. A lot of joy, and a lot of loss. And that doesn't even count the extremely short-term interactions with people met traveling, or on a temporary job, or the friend of a friend who is only visiting, or friendships built online around common interests. There have been times where I've wondered -- is it worth it? Is it worth investing in a relationship when I've invested in so many before? When one of us may move? Why did I spend the time building friendships, only to leave the city a year later? Maybe it's not worth it.
But the thing is, those interactions matter. Even a smile and helping hand in the grocery store from a fellow shopper who realizes the difficulty of unloading a grocery cart with a baby strapped to your chest -- every interaction matters. I am better for having met you. For having spent time with you, for being privileged to have my road intersect with your road.
Recent moves have brought these thoughts to mind more than once in the past couple of years and I know I've written about this before, but lately the people at Shevet Achim have been on my heart and mind, and that's why I'm putting words to these thoughts again. Shevet Achim is a beautiful part of God's Kingdom, and people who are really and truly doing Kingdom work. This organization brings children with congenital heart defects into Israel to have life-saving surgery at world class medical centers. These children are Kurdish, Syrian, Palestinian, Iraqi. They are being cared for and loved on by Christians and Jews. What is more beautiful than that? The volunteers and staff at Shevet Achim live in close community, and when you are with them for even a short time they embrace you. The people we met were examples of keeping your eyes on Jesus, and on trying to live a life of love, peace, and truth. I wish everyone could spend a couple of weeks at Shevet Achim, but even if you can't, spend a few minutes reading their web site and praying for people who are being Jesus in a unique and special way.
So, to whoever you are. You know who you are. Maybe we studied, ate, laughed, cried, prayed, traveled, played, worked, argued, worshiped, ran, or even lived together. Maybe we just shared a meal, or a cup of coffee. Maybe we shared life. Maybe we are still sharing life. No matter how our roads crossed, or how long they followed the same path -- and even if they are still right there, side by side -- thank you for leaving your mark, for filling my cup.