Monday, January 17, 2011

Then and Now

Millmark Ave. was a nice quiet street, a good neighborhood where you could raise a family. I remember when we first moved on Millmark, the street was about four blocks long, until the freeway went in, dividing the street. As a little girl, I knew at least the family names of everybody on our little street, where the good kids lived, which houses had the trouble-makers, and which houses the grumpy old men lived in.

I remember when a new family moved in across the street. I must have been probably around seven or so at the time – we were allowed to play unsupervised in the front yard but were not yet allowed to cross the street without permission. On one of those front-yard days, the kids in the new family were playing outside. They were a little younger than my sister and me, and they were not allowed to cross the street either. Wanting to be friends, but not wanting to get in trouble with our parents, Julie and I shouted across the street to these new neighbors, wanting to share our Lorna Doone cookies with them. Our parents came outside, wanting to know what the shouting was all about, and gave us permission to meet them, as long as we looked both ways and were very careful crossing the street. And thus began our friendship with Kim and Alan.

Kim and Alan were not the only neighbors around our age. My brother’s best neighborhood buddy was Eric, around the corner. Eric had a sister my age, but we never became friends. I don’t remember ever playing with this particular sister of Eric’s. In fact, we never wanted anything to do with each other. You might say we couldn’t stand each other. I honestly have no idea why. I wonder if we would be friends now, if we had the opportunity?

Over the past few months I’ve had the opportunity to begin new friendships with people I’ve known, or at least known of, for over 30 years. These are people that I spent my high school years with, but for whatever reason never bothered to take the time to get to know. During school it was “safe” to spend breaks and lunch with your own groups. For a quiet, B average student band geek such as me, it took courage, perhaps even some sort of permission, to cross the courtyard and make friends with the athletes or cheerleaders or rebels or students whose GPA range might have been struggling. Outside of the classroom we didn’t really have anything to do with each other. No one was in the “can’t stand them” ranking, yet outside of the classroom we didn’t really have anything to do with each other.

Shortly after our class reunion last fall many of us made the commitment to be intentional about getting together more often. After all, it had been 10 years since we did anything as a class group; we didn’t want to wait another 10 years to do something again. Last weekend was one of those get-together times, an informal party at someone’s house. And at the party someone I only knew by name and face back in the day but have gotten to know better over the past few months asked me, “How come we weren’t friends back in high school?”

I believe it was God’s design that we were not friends back in the day. I really know why. You and I may have ended up being in each other’s “can’t stand them” ranking, and neither of us knowing why. But I believe that if we were friends then, we would not be the friends we need to be for each other now. Then, we needed permission to cross the street and share Lorna Doone’s. Then, the tests we had to take had to do with math and social studies and science, and we were given a letter grade to tell us how we did. Now, the math (finance), social studies (family and work), and science (medical conditions) have a significant impact on day to day life. Then, we needed permission to cross the street and share Lorna Doone’s. Now, there may be some streets we may be afraid to cross, but we know that there are friends on the other side, cheering us on in our bravery.

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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