While we are in Brentwood, TN for a couple months (settling into the apartment attached to our kid’s home), I have been attending a wonderful small group that meets in someone’s home from 10-noon on Thursdays. The leader is from South Africa and has introduced us to a blog-produced-curriculum on Hospitality. I am learning so much. I think we each have our own definition of hospitality. For me, it has meant opening your heart and home to welcome people to share life. This study had expanded my thoughts.
We have been challenged to do practical things like creating a tray for someone that expresses care for that individual and then bring it to them. An example from the group have been making a beautiful tray for a somewhat stand-offish neighbor which included a Starbucks card and an invitation to meet for coffee. Making a tray of tea and cookies or a welcome quiche for someone new in the neighborhood were mentioned. I observed that in a post-Christian culture, reaching people takes on new challenges. Showing care and giving someone special attention can be the best outreach method. Some call these efforts pre-evangelism. I love these new ideas.
For this study group we are assigned to simply reads 2-3 blog entries of a wise writer and discuss them during the group time. Scripture is brought in. This week was about expressing your affection and love for the friends in your life who make up the friendship “tapestry” of your life. I thought of this group in the picture. People we have done life with for over 30 years.
My hospitality usually includes our dearest friends. I want to continue to expand that circle.
Finally our 8-week study group on Hospitality eats lunch together. Lunch is made up of whatever you bring to share. Young moms, grade-school moms, empty-nesters and even a retired person like myself make up this group of 12. It’s a great group. I love the world of women learning together. It is helping me when I find myself missing my groups of women at home.
You will enjoy reading our assigned reading for this week….truly inspirational! You may want to use this method with a group of your own….from Lyn Johnson (the blog is called Heartistry).
THE FABRIC OF FRIENDSHIP
by Lyn Johnson ‘July 29, 2015
I planned my own 40th birthday. (And my generous and sneaky husband planned one for me too.) I had decided it would be fun to be in the snow for my birthday so we traveled to Whistler, Canada and spent a long weekend with 3 couples who were some of our closest friends. We played in the snow during the day and then each couple cooked one of the evening meals, and I enjoyed eating them. Isn’t that what the birthday girl is meant to do?
On our last morning together we were having a time of deep conversation and prayer (It is the best gift in the world to have people who know you really well pray blessings over your next year and decade.) During that time I had a mental picture come to mind that described friendship. (I love to use imagery to teach truth, so I built out this picture in my mind and it has been very helpful to me as I have thought about true friendship.)
It was of a very large tapestry covered with beautiful stitches made with a golden thread. The tapestry was still in progress and there were many threads hanging down on both sides of the tapestry. Each thread was still attached to a needle. The only way the golden threads could be stitched to make the exquisite design was for someone standing on the one side of the very large tapestry to push the needle through to the person standing on the other side of the tapestry. That person would then need to pass the needle back through the fabric again to continue the stitching.
In my mind’s eye, I saw needles that were hanging down on my side of the tapestry. A friend had pushed the needle through to me, and I had been too busy, distracted or disinterested to take the time to “pass the needle” back to my friend.
At times I had reached out in friendship to others, and they in turn had not put the effort into “passing the needle” back to me. This had left me hurt and disappointed.
But I could also see many beautiful, intricate patterns that had been stitched through years and years of passing the needle back and forth, back and forth, with friendships that had stood the test of time.
These threads gave the beauty and value to this precious Fabric of Friendship.
- True friendship requires intentional effort, faithful commitment and thoughtful acts that put the other person first.
- True friendship takes time and can involve the investment of finances.
Personal space and privacy are laid down as one opens the heart to shared experiences and community.
- At the same time true friendship carries with it great reward that is enjoyed by those who have built the friendship and spills over into blessing for the next generation too.
I am so grateful for those who have stood with me over many years, committed to stitching the fabric of friendship with precious, golden threads.
Questions for personal reflection:
- When did you “drop the needle” and allow a friendship to lie dormant for some reason?
- What can you do to “pick up the thread” again?
- Are there painful situations where you “passed the needle” through and your overtures of friendship were ignored or rejected?
- Are there people you need to forgive and release so that you can move on?
- Which friendships are “golden thread” friendships where you and your friend have spent years creating something very beautiful? Take some time to thank them for the richness they have added to your life.
Pick up your “thread” and pass it back with a gesture of gratitude and generosity!
Please share this post with your friends. Thanks!