There are certain things I value. There are certain things you value more than others as well. For me, I obviously value family and food. I value high liturgy and the Eucharist, after all, I am a ministry major. In addition to those things, I also really value friendship. My love language is quality time, and I think that is obvious with the way I spend my time. One of my roommates once asked me what my favorite part of the day was. I know, it was a slightly random question. We both talked about how it is not fun to have to get in and out of the shower, but shower time is a quite nice part of the day. (Fun fact: I think shower time is my best prayer time.) Through our further dissection of our daily routines, I realized one of my favorite times are meal times. This should surprise no one: I love food. However, it is more than just about eating.
I love meal times because they are times I get to spend with my friends. I do not enjoy eating my lunchable or peanut butter and jelly sandwich alone in my cubicle on Tuesdays and Thursdays because even my introverted self enjoys spending time with other people. I enjoy conversations that happen over meals. I enjoy sharing in the lives of the people around me—hearing about their day, their troubles, their joys. That’s a huge part as to why I love the Eucharist. First, there’s bread. Moreover, it is the time when I enter into a community of broken people who together join with Christ who was broken for us. All that to say, I love my friends.
That’s why I boarded a plane last Wednesday en route to San Diego. This summer I was blessed to serve in a church in London alongside a really stellar group of people. I stare at their pictures each time I come to work. One of those people lives in San Diego. So with a flight voucher and a day off for fall break, I wrote down my visit in my planner (that’s when it really becomes official). I have never been to San Diego before, never seen the Pacific ocean before, never eaten a California burrito* before. And, let’s be real: I missed my friend since we said a hurried goodbye in the El Paso airport at the end of July. On my flight from Dallas to San Diego, I was sandwiched between a man with a picture of the Pope as his computer background and a large Danish man. But it was worth it, I was about to see my friend.
When we originally planned the trip, my friend did not yet have a full-time 9 to 5 job, but she just recently started one. (Which I was so extremely happy to hear!) However, it meant I would not really have anyone I knew to spent the daytimes with. BUT, you see, she has one of the greatest groups of friends ever. I mean, seriously. Even though I may or may not have felt like they felt like they had to babysit me while she was at work, I was so grateful to be allowed to enter their lives.
I went with one of her friends to sit in on a class at Point Loma Nazarene University. It was the class on Christian Worship and was a really interesting topic. The professor totally called me out, which I did not appreciate (I like to blend in—not be asked to come to the front of the classroom). It rained that day as well, which they say rarely happens. Then I was so very fortunate to get to spend time with someone I actually met in Thailand this past December, who is from California and goes to Point Loma. I think this world is all more connected than we think.
Friday I went to work with my friend, and her co-workers found work for me to do. I ended up stuffing envelopes for hours. Which sounds boring, but you’d be surprised to know I actually think stuffing envelopes might be one of my spiritual gifts. And I didn’t get a single paper cut. Because I am awesome. Also because it wasn’t really paper-cut paper. We went to the beach and looked at the ocean, and I loved every minute of it.
Friday night we went to a British pub (to try to relive our summer days of eating fish and chips) and went an improv show at the National Comedy Theatre. The show was hilarious. Afterward we got gelato. To say I like gelato is a gross understatement. So a night of laughter with my friend and some of her friends AND gelato made for a good Friday night.
The next day (the weekend—when adult-type people with adult-type 9 to 5 jobs do not work), my friend, one of her friends, and myself went to Sea World. For free, y’all. One of her other friends worked there all summer (“I sold alcohol out of a canoe,” he will tell you) and so he scored us some free tickets. And I think I like not paying for things almost as much as I like gelato, but please understand I really, really like gelato, but I also like not paying for stuff. I touched a dolphin AND a stingray. Hello, crossing off bucket list items.** Then we ate Mexican food (my second Carne Asada burrito of the weekend), and then went to a high up place with a beautiful view of San Diego. It was truly a fantastic day. Seriously. I think it goes on my list of top ten favorite days of my life.***
Sunday, my final day in San Diego, I went to church with her. I loved her church. Of course the professor of the class I visited is also the pastor so there was a point at the end of the service where he definitely pointed out that a North Dakotan was in the room and invited everyone to “touch a North Dakotan.” (I couldn’t make this up if I tried.) Also at the beginning of the service an intoxicated man walked through and the pastor prayed for him, and it was in that moment I fell in love with the church. That’s the Kingdom of Heaven if I have ever seen it. My friend and I got lunch, ate in a park, and then I boarded a plane. In a way, it felt like I was leaving home.
Now nothing beats being home with my mother, brother, cats, and a cup of coffee. (P.S. I love Thanksgiving—food AND family.) However, there is a certain level of hominess I find whenever I am with my friends. There’s a song by Christa Wells in which she sings:
Here’s a key to my front door
Got a pillow if you lost yours
You got a seat at my table
You’ve got a home
Here’s somebody who believes you
Let truth remind you
You’ve always got a place to go to
You’ve got a home.
I love my friends, because I find a home in them and hopefully they find a home in me. I am grateful. I really have some of the best friends ever (scattered all over the globe).
*In case you don’t know, California burritos have French fries inside. Don’t ask me why, I am from North Dakota. I claim none of that crazy.
**You’re right: those were never things on my bucket list. But I once got Achiever as one of my top strengths and we achiever-types like to write down list items just to cross them off. Try it: write your to-do list with things you’ve already accomplished and cross them off. It is liberating, right?
***What can I say? I like lists.