“Touch is love made manifest, a way to connect not only human to human and skin to skin, but also with…that eternal, all-encompassing energy that unites us, that infuses us with life, that reminds us that we are indeed all one and that the world is a hospitable place to be… Touching one another is what we humans do. Touch is what we need from one another and touch is what we have to give. It’s what keeps us hopeful and what keeps us going, what keeps our hearts opening and softening and trusting.” — Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey
I knew I’d regret it the moment it happened. Or, to be more precise, the moment it didn’t happen.
Last year, during Lent, I sat on a pew near the back of the sanctuary in a church in town. The back doors were open and the sun cast long shadows along the floor. A soft breeze danced just inside the doorway and I remembered that these weekly Lenten services had begun in the colder, darker days of winter. Michelle had welcomed me and we’d been riding together each week to sing the songs, eat the bread, drink the wine, pray the prayers, and listen to the messages in the days of preparation leading up to Easter.
On this night, our friend Lyla joined us and I sat in the pew with Michelle on my right and Lyla on my left. Together, the three of us sang the songs, ate the bread, drank the wine, prayed the prayers, and listened to the message about just how much God loves us. I wanted to reach out and grab my friends’ hands, but I didn’t. I had an inner dialogue going on, with one voice arguing that I’d freak them out if I reached out and touched them in the middle of the church service, and another voice telling me I’d regret it if I didn’t. Fear of freaking out my friends won out, and I kept my hands in my lap.
Later, in the parking lot, I told them, “I almost reached out and grabbed your hands, but I didn’t want to freak you out.”
“You should have,” they both told me. “It would have been fine.”
Last month, my husband and I visited Europe. We walked down street after street, in city after city, and saw pairs of women walking arm-in-arm or hand-in-hand everywhere I looked. They walked closely and leaned in toward one another and it was clear their friendships were treasures. I was smitten and I said to my husband, “I’m going to do that when we get home. I’m going to walk arm-in-arm with my girlfriends.”
Friendship is a gift. I have learned that the hard way. Finding someone who will talk you back from the edge, encourage you to follow your dream, stay up talking until 3 AM, eat ice cream with you — straight from the container, hear your darkest confessions without flinching, and keep showing up anyway? A gift. No, a treasure.
If you’ve got one good friend, you’ve got a treasure, that’s for sure. If you’ve got more than one good friend, you have what I’ve heard called an embarrassment of riches. I want my friends to know how much I love them. I want them to know they have saved my sanity on more than one occasion. I want them to know that sometimes my heart overflows with gratitude and love for them. So I’m turning a deaf ear to the voice that tells me I might just freak out my friends if I let them know how much they mean to me. A friend loves at all times. It’s as simple as that.
Who are the friends in your life who mean the world to you? How do you let them know how special they are?