This essay was written by me and originally posted by Sakura Bloom here.
It was the first time we’d seen the sun in days.
We live in the very northern tip of Kentucky which means that the late Fall/Winter season brings with it a grey curtain that hangs thick from one edge of the horizon to the other. There can be whole weeks before we see clear sunlight.
But not today. Today, we were making good on our plans to take the hour drive to visit a dear friend and finally meet her two month old daughter. It seemed as though the sun was blessing the endeavour with it’s bright presence.
We arrive in Louisville, parking under a tree decked in flickering yellow leaves. My friend Shawna and her husband greet us from their apartment door with their tiny daughter tucked in the crook of Shawna’s arm. We embrace. The world instantly becomes brighter.
The last time we’d seen one another, our daughters were there too. We just hadn’t met them yet. Both of us rubbed our rounding tummies and talked about how the best birth plan is the one that you hold loosely too. We parted ways then knowing that, most likely, the next time we met would after we both became mothers of girls for the first time.
Shawna has been my friend for nearly a decade. It’s rare thing when I can feel safe enough to be completely myself around someone else. She’s one of the very, very few people I have that sort of kinship with. We first connected over our love of thought churning conversations and the ability to weave stories with ink, pages and fingers tapping on keyboards. I find it to be a beautiful turn of events that God saw fit for us to birth our daughters within months of each other in the same year.
After grabbing burgers at a local joint, we return to our vehicles for a short drive to a park for a walk. As I’m loading my littlest into the van, Shawna walks over and suggests I ride with her for the 20 minute drive.
Isn't that all friendship ever is? An invitation to connect.
Our car conversation ranges from bottle and breastfeeding to the pain of unfilled dreams to the spiritual struggle of living out the gospel of Christ for our families. She confesses slight insecurities about navigating life with a two month old, I tell her to rest easy; no one is scoring the way she mothers that baby. I share about how my husband’s job is draining our family's spirit and she assures me that she will pray for God to open up new opportunities for us.
We both smile and laugh a lot. It's good to feel known.
The wind is sharp, cold and playful at the park. The sun leaks through a watery layer of thin clouds. We bundle up our babies and breathe in the openness that comes from connecting with kindred spirits.
My three year old plays loudly with Jonathan (my husband) and Chris (her husband). I keep remarking about how thankful I am to see the sun; to have had the world full of light for at least one afternoon. These days feel sparse in the season of life we're living.
When I first saw that I was to be writing about the subject of kinship my chest caved in a little. Friendship isn’t something that’s always a happy subject for me to touch on. Yes, I have close friends but every one of them is long-distance. Which means that I go long, aching seasons without any sort of local “village”. I don’t have a regular girl’s night out or playdates with fellow moms and their kids. I’ve never had friends just pop over for coffee or a movie night.
The friendships I do have must be maintained over random text messages, occasional care packages and even rarer phone calls. It's not ideal, but it's what we have and I try my best to make it work.
Our time in the park winds down. The babies have flushed cheeks and nipped-red noses. My hands are cold from the stiff breeze but my heart a bit warmer--kindled by the spark of sweet fellowship with my friend.
By the time we arrive back home, it's well after dark. The sky has unfurled in black velvet and I'm quietly mourning the fact Shawna doesn't live closer. I happen to glance up as we we're unloading the kids from the van to our home.
Thick, glittering bands of stars from one corner of the sky to other. I see where God Himself has taken fistfuls of the bright things and scattered them across the fathomless black.
They're always there, you know. The stars sit quietly, lighting both the day and night. Unlike the sun or moon, the stars are the only celestials constant to our sky----whether we see them every day or not.
In that way, I think later, they're a lot like Shawna.