Friendship is a topic I have found fascinating all my life. As a child I did not have many friends and now that I am older, I cherish them more than anything else in life. I write to them. I visit them. I call and text them. I send them gifts and they do the same with me.
There are only a few very close friends in one’s life (they say we humans only have capacity to know 130 people at a time and can navigate a rich friendship (with a full time job) with only a dozen or so.
The book I am working on is called “The Garden: a study of friendship” is being written with twelve friends – each co-wring a chapter with me and each chapter ending in a recipe for a food we have loved eating together. Even if it is never published ( and I do have a publisher thank God!) it will be my greatest gift to myself and to those twelve. Like plants in a garden, the friendships need to be tended – trimmed, pulled, replanted in better locations, harvested, replanted. The need feeding and watering or they die. They can be harmed by the infestations of trouble or addiction or neglect. But I believe the gardens of our lives in which our friends life are essential to life well-lived.
This small spice bowl I made for my friends Jeff and Bryan in New Orleans. To wander their home is to wander my entire life of pottery. On lit shells, on a wall of books tended to by a rolling ladder, on tables, in kitchen cabinets, there are dozens of pots, platters, mugs, cups, bowls all immediately recalling different years of our life of friendship. One sent because it was gorgeous. Another sent because of a birthday. Another for a visit-gift, some taken from visits to my in the cloister of my monastery and some from the farmhouse.
This spice bowl holds a bit of sugar we would use to make my first Sazerac – a New Orleans drink i have come to love because they do.
The bowl was not needed. He could have said, “Get some sugar from that bag of sugar.” but he looks some out and put it in this small bowl – a nod to that gift – a decision to use it together – again.
It takes planning, effort, money, time, intention, creativity, energy, patience, kindness, desire, longing to host a friend. May we do a good job of it this Advent.