Part of the Pilgrimage Summer 2013 series.
I woke up in the middle of the night last night. Abruptly with a traumatic nightmare. As I breathed and tried to calm myself down, I worked to reconcile the images and finish the dream with some peaceful conclusion so that I could go back to sleep. In the dark of 4:00 a.m. ideas such as “that would never happen” were not tangible, but who I would call if the dream was reality were clear.
I gathered the faces around me. The people that I would wake up in the middle of the night without hesitation if I needed someone to accompany me through a scenario like the one that invaded my dreams. I pictured the faces and the hands that would gently hold mine. The hands that have sat with many throughout the years and would not blink to be present in the tough stuff. The friend who would be in her car minutes after I called driving an hour and a half and who would be the one to call family and friends if that was needed. Because she knows who in my life would need those calls and has met some of them or at least knows them by name. And the people here who would care and act and surround me.
It amazes me to remember that two and a half years ago I moved to this town knowing no one. I joked that I had one friend in Richmond when I moved here. Valerie, the Director of Admissions. After all, we’d talked on the phone twice. I came committed to diving in and finding community…and how grateful I am for that investment.
And how much harder it makes it to leave.
I worked three sets of rows on the prayer shawl early last week, in the spirit of noticing all that is here that I am journeying from. And then I made myself stop. Because this thing can’t get so big before I even begin to try to stuff it in the back pocket of my carry-on bag. And so I started crocheting strands to gift, to thank people for being part of the fabric of life here in Richmond. To honor the way their lives have inspired and impacted me. And to leave a tangible reminder of their presence in my life and on the journey.
And so all of a sudden I’m madly crocheting. In every class, through Peace Forum, meetings, and in the few free moments I give myself at the end of the night. I crochet these bookmarks, these pieces of my pilgrimage shawl, in the same pattern and style, with the “Richmond yarn” woven through the middle. And I crochet madly because I look around me and see face after face that I want to thank for their presence.
The faces of classmates, walking this adventure together. Remembering those whom I connected with back in Spring of 2011 when I arrived, the first conversations, each of us tentatively figuring out who the other was and beginning to show our selves. And those who I have just met this term, and yet feel the connection of true friends.
The professors who have changed me forever through their teaching and mentorship. The profs who have seen me when I could not see myself, believed in me, challenged me and expected me to rise to be the preacher, the writer, the theologian. The profs who have become friends and in their accompaniment and mutual conversations that have impacted me more deeply than any lecture.
Community members. The people at Richmond Church of the Brethren. The friends who have become family. The home where I could spend Easter and feel I was with family and where I know I can come back and stay anytime. The families who have had me over for meals and been part of the journey. The people who just know.
The people are endless. How is it that in two and a half years one can accumulate such a list of precious friends? They will not all get hand crochet bookmarks. Let’s be realistic people–I still have three big final projects, an exam, a house to pack, an intensive course to prepare for, and overflowing details to get this summer set. But their faces will get noted. Each person honored as I notice. And appreciated. I am grateful. And I am in awe of this thing called “humanity” and the beauty of relationships and people in our lives.