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Did you ever reconnect with a friend?

I did last week. I reconnected with Keith Alan, one of my closest childhood friends. We might have spoken just once or twice during the past forty-five years. But when we were kids, we were joined at the hip. We were so close that we could practically read each other’s mind. We would speak for hours on end about every topic conceivable. Then his dad received a promotion that took the family to Europe. We sort of lost touch after that, except for attending each other’s weddings, a couple of conversations, and the annual exchange of Christmas cards.

But last week, we had a conversation on FaceTime that lasted an hour and twenty-three minutes. It felt like we picked up right where we had left off, as we spoke about our lives, our families, our careers, our spiritual journeys.

I doubt that every reunion conversation between friends goes as well, and I wondered what made this one feel so natural. Maybe it had something to do with the original reasons we were such good friends in the first place. Maybe it had something to do with nostalgia in two aging baby boomers who have been sheltering in their respective places for too long. Maybe I was just ready to connect (I actually had thought about Keith Alan several times during the past few months, but it took an unexpected turn of events to make this “reconnection” happen).

We were able to reconnect even though our lives had taken us in quite different directions. Keith Alan’s life led to careers in college teaching and scientific research, including a four-year stint at the NIH. My life led to careers as a lawyer for twenty-seven years and then as an eleven-year stint as a pastor. But the divergence in our career paths seemed to illuminate our shared experience rather than negate it. Relationship doesn’t require sameness.

I can’t help but notice parallels between the friendship of human beings and the spiritual journey that we all are taking. William Barry describes prayer as a personal relationship. It is a conscious relationship that is “based on God’s actions to establish it and his desire that we become conscious of who he is and wants to be for us. Our consciousness depends on our willingness to pay attention to God’s actions, or at least to experiences that might be the actions of God, and to let our desires for God be aroused.”[1]

We may go off in a different direction, but God waits for us to return to the relationship. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son who kept looking for the son to come home and saw him “while he was still far off,” (see Luke 15:20), our God keeps waiting for us to reconnect, to come home to a restored relationship.

Just like best friends.

[1] William A. Barry, God and You: Prayer as a Personal Relationship (New York: Paulist Press, 1987), 14.

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