recipes & friendship

One of my housemates gets a gift subscription to Cooking Light Magazine, a favorite magazine of mine. The latest issue came the other day, so I was flipping through last month's recipes for yummy creations I can make in the kitchen before relegating the old issue to the recycling bin. In fact, a brown soda bread is in the oven as I write--don't know yet if it's yummy but I have high hopes.

There was also a great article in the March issue that I could not find online. It's entitled, "The importance and problem of staying connected." I'm sure all of my friends can relate, but I'd recommend that my friends in religious life try to find a copy. I found it very illuminating and affirming of something I've been coming to realize.
If you're busy with child-reading or with an all-encompassing career-or some combination of the two-[or the blogger ads, vowed religious life]--it's likely that you're just not getting the friend time that you used to. In part this has happened because you trust that you can rely on your friends to be there when you really need them. But you always need them. Friendship is not a constant state of connection; it needs to be tended, and improves with tending.

'It's important to think of time with friends as something you need, like exercise and a good night's sleep," says Tom Rath, author of Vital Friends: The People You Can't Afford to Live Without .... 'Every hour of friendship time you add to your life diminishes stress and increases your happiness.' ...

Two things tend to stand in the way of keeping in touch. First, reserving friends-only time may seem selfish to many women because we think our needs fall lower on the priority list. Who has time to gab when there's a family to feed and laundry to wash [and the blogger adds, the wonderful yet time consuming mix of prayer, ministry and community]? Second, by the time everything else is done, a check-in call to a friend can seem like just one more thing to do.

One of my goals that came up in my 1 year vows reflection last fall was to reconnect with friends. During my two years of novitiate, I was 3,000 miles away from most of my friends and immersed in a different world. Whereas there were some friends I used to talk to every day, we moved to a once a month check in. The friends I used to talk to once a month, I occasionally connected with via email. Thank God for Facebook, which I discovered towards the end of my novitiate, and for the blog, which helped me stay at least tenuously connected.

Now that I've moved from novitiate to temporary profession, I'm in a more regular mode of life and I'm closer to friends - a 3 hour drive from most instead of 3,000 miles. And yet, as the article says, even though I yearn to connect and know that I need to tend these relationships with people than I love, it sometimes seems like just one more thing to put on my to do list. And yet, like prayer, I know that when I connect with friends, I feel more connected to life. I say like prayer because sometimes it seems like you're so busy, how could you ever fit in a quiet evening of prayer. And yet, the more I make space for connecting with God, the more space there seems to be for everything else as well. Really, it's all about relationships.

I love my religious community. This weekend will be an amazing reunion time of fun, laughter, prayer, conversation and celebration--we're gathering for our semi-annual community assembly. But I'm realizing more and more that I also need the life giving energy of staying connected with my friends. It's not just an age thing--although that is a factor seeing as most of my religious community is 3o to 50 years older than me. More, it's the bonds and connections that develop over time.

And so, I've also been trying to make space for friends. I'm headed to Portland for Easter in a few weeks. Have a summer vacation planned with some other friends. Have been trying to connect more on the phone, rather than just relying on Facebook to keep me up to date.

Perhaps it's silly to find such affirmation from an article in a cooking magazine, but it seems like I'm on the right track. The shared memories, the silly moments, the simple qualities are I think part of the recipe to a healthy and balanced life.

1 comment:

Garpu said...

I don't think it's silly at all...some of the strongest things we need to hear come from unexpected places. :)