A few weekends ago I spent some time visiting with my friends Brit and Noel. We used to work together and then life changed and now we see each other all too infrequently. Thing is, they’re two people that I have really great conversations with. Not the kind that stay on the surface. No matter how long it’s been since we saw each other last, it’s easy for us to get right to the good, meaty, substantive conversation that leaves you satisfied; the kind a friend of mine used to call “worthy conversations.”
I used to feel guilty because there are certain people I know that I don’t see nearly as much as I’d like. But Noel helped me realize that I don’t need to feel guilty about the time that passes in between encounters.
When I consider the need to be intentional about my relationships — which I believe is necessary — I wonder if I’m not doing enough work to stay connected with those I care about most. I ask myself if perhaps I don’t really care about the relationship. But what if intentionality means something else?
The reality is life has a certain rhythm to it. It’s less like the rhythm of a clock, but more like changing weather patterns that can shift the wind from one direction to the another in an instant.
In past summers, my family would go tubing on the Guadalupe River. As we floated along the water, there were moments we would stay together and others when we drifted apart. Sometimes we were able to hold on to each other; other times we had to wave at each other from a distance. No matter where the river took us, we always ended up in the same place in the end. What if our relationships are like that? What if the journey of our friendships is like climbing into an inner tube and floating on the unpredictable flow of the water?
And, what if being intentional with my relationships doesn’t mean keeping a rigid expectation of the time I spend with the people I care about? What if it means being intentional to pay attention to the ebb and flow of life and when its current brings me alongside a fellow traveler?
Sometimes the current of life brings me in close proximity to a friend and we spend time holding on to each other; other times the current leads us away from each other and we have to wave from a distance. But, no matter where it takes us, we end up together.
I no longer let the frequency between my contact with friends and loved ones consume me. I don’t assume they don’t care. I don’t wonder if I’ve done something to push them away. I simply accept it as the current of relationships.
It may be months before I sit down with Noel and Brit again. I have no doubt that no matter how long until the next time we see each other the conversation will once again be a worthy one filled with substance.
And that’s okay.