There is something amazing about friendship.
It energizes. It revitalizes. It expands who I am & makes me more. So as it is Christmas-time, which is ‘family & friendship-time’ for me, I’d like to tell you about some of our friends. People who’ve become significant in our lives. People who’ve shared life with us & who we trust will continue to share life with us. People who’ve contributed to who we are and how we go about our days & the joy we feel, the happiness, the contentment, the completeness.
We met Beate many, many years ago. We were living in the Freestate City of Bloemfontein in Central South Africa. We were students. Just married. Her father was my history professor. Over time, he became our friend as well. Friendship requires time. Time spent together. Talking. Thinking. Experiencing.
She was probably 10 or 11 years old when we met her. I’m not very age conscious. I don’t think age is such an important ‘thing’. We spoke when we spent time at their home. We saw her go from primary school to secondary school. We laughed in their kitchen. Ate together. Laughed together.
Then we moved away to the village of Bray on the Botswana border.
One day she phoned. I think she was 14 years old. Early on in high school. She wanted to come and visit us for the school holidays. And she came. And it was the start of new deeper friendship. Meaningful friendship. We ate together. We laughed, went horse-back riding & game viewing. The Kalahari is an amazing place. The sky seems to be bluer & higher, the clouds are whiter and you can see into forever. It is quiet and at night you are entertained by the distant cry of wolves or the roar of lions or the insist gheko call.
It is a place where friendship can grow.
We’ve been friends close on fifteen years, Beate and us.
We’ve seen her go from High School to ‘Caring’ in the UK, to University. We shared joy and sorrow and disappointment. She’s seen us taste success and failure. She’s shared in our children’s birth, in their going from babies to toddlers to almost teenagers. She’s seen us move from Bray to Nelson Mandela Bay. We’ve gone camping together. We’ve been at the river, enjoying sunsets & warm summer’s evenings.
We’ve seen each other cry.
We’ve consoled each other & encouraged each other.
We’ve listened to each other, not understanding, but accepting and embracing.
There’s been times when she was off in Germany or Holland or England and we didn’t see each other or even talk for months on end.
But for these fifteen years we’ve been close.
We’ve been connected.
We’ve grown together and ‘became’ in collaboration.
This friendship makes us more as I hope it makes her more.
I hope to see her meet her counterpart. I hope to see her fall in love & have her own children. I hope to see her experience success as she studies in Holland and perhaps even at Harvard. I hope to learn from her. History. Philosophy. Life.
Most of all I hope to be more deeply connected to her when I am old and gray and at the end of my time. To have shared history & memory.
Beate is one of the gifts I celebrate this Christmas.
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