Thursday, March 13, 2014

An Adopted Family that Stays Together

I would like to preface this post by saying, I love my family.  My mom, my dad, my brother and I are very close in all senses of that word.  I turn to them in times of trouble and times of joy,
but this post is not about them.

Not everyone has the benefit and blessing that is a close biological family,
and that is a shame.

But I have another family that I'd like to tell you about today.

I have friends that I consider to be family.  We have been there for each other over the years and have survived a lot of joys, sorrows and have remained intact.

When we are all together, I often sit back and pull out of the moment and start trying to figure out how this came to be.  I have no idea how my face looks in these moments, quizzical no doubt.
Especially lately I wonder, even aloud, how did I get these people?

And I mean this not as a criticism to myself or to them.  It's a compliment.
This is an astounding bunch of people.

Such a wide span of knowledge and interests.
So many dreams, aspirations, talents, adventures, and accomplishments.
So many different employers and specialties:
The St. Louis Zoo, Boeing, The Covering House, NISA, the VA Hospital, Wash U, Juniper, etc.

One way that this particular branch of my family tree came to be was at one point in time we all were part of the same Community Group, which is similar to a Bible Study.  A lot of us have gone our different ways, but to keep in touch we've started having Family Dinner every 2 weeks.

It doesn't matter if I am sweaty with no makeup, had a horrible or great day, or am running early or late.  By the time I get to dinner, it doesn't disappear, but I am in a safe place.  It's like declaring sanctuary against the world, which feels so good.  Don't we all long to do that?

This week at the table we discussed All the Things as usual.
From Indian food, to Zoo stories (one of my favorite parts of any dinner), to travel, to the Old Testament linking it to the gospel, the St. Louis Beard and Mustache Club, fermentation, raising chickens, where to get nutritional yeast, and the highlight of our friend's year, since it was her birthday.  It's deeply inspiring to hear how they spend their days and live life.

And as I said before, not everyone is blessed with a wonderful biological family.  And not everyone has the benefit of a vibrant support of an adopted geographic family.
But you can get one.

It took work though, and it takes time.  Now it takes planning, because as much as I love my friends, our interests and schedules are so diverse that we don't bump into each other without mapping it out.  (Or maybe it would intersect for me if I would start indoor rock climbing...but, NO.)

I do know that the first step to getting friends is to have the courage to say, "Hey, we should be friends."
I have had the best relationships sprout from this simple sentence.

And the another tip is to have the presence of mind to notice when you miss them and to reject that.  It seems so simple to say and mean, "Hey, I miss you.  Let's fix that," and then make a time right then to see each other; it takes watchfulness to identify and rectify.

I can share more about how to cultivate and be open to friendships, because it has taken so much time and tries and failures and successes over years and years to better get a handle on what it is to have and be a friend, but I won't do that here now.

Instead, for today, in the middle of Spring Break, I am glad to say:
I have a family of friends in the city I love, and I am ever so grateful.

*It is also extremely important to mention that there are even more family members to speak of outside of this branch that shares meals together.  It's just easier to speak of one group rather than the many individuals I love.