Tonight I went to our city's local art museum. The new exhibit was opening. I drooled. Literally. There were Hoppers and an O'Keefe. There were two whole rooms of Homer. It was inspiring. Each brush stroke. Each splash of color. It made me want to paint. Oh, how I want to paint. Of course, ironies of ironies, I'm not painting. I'm blogging.
I went with a new friend to this exhibit. She's a member so she gets to be there for these fabulous openings before the rest of the city gets to see this work. I was honored to be her guest. In general, I'm honored to be in her presence -- but the relationship is a little complicated. We met when I hosted a dinner party and invited friends to bring friends because I wanted new friends. She was one of those guests. And yet, when she walked through the door, we both recognized each other. I knew her. I had done her grandmother's funeral only a few months prior. It was one of those moments where the reality of the small city I call home loomed true.
And yet, we're friends. We're in that wonderful dance of getting to know each other as friends. We both share a passion for the arts and a curiosity about life. It's a boundary violation maybe but I want to be her friend. It doesn't mean it's not complicated. Our conversation often returns to the moment we met when I sat holding tissues for her family and listened to their stories. It did again tonight when she asked me about my family -- but it didn't feel weird. It didn't feel strange. It didn't feel like that creepy feeling you get from church members that really want to be your friend and know all your inner-most thoughts. (It's not just me that has those church members, right?)
She listened to me. She heard me. I listen all of the time in my ministry. It's why I do what I do. I love stories. I love how stories form people. I love the sacred space of allowing someone to tell their story in its full truth -- but I have to say, it's been a long time since that space was made for me. Tonight, I found that space. She asked me questions and she let me speak. She let me tell my story in a way that others have let me do for them so many times. Maybe it's because I don't really have a pastor now that I'm a pastor. I have wonderful friends who listen to me -- but it's been some time since I've told this part of my story and had it be truly heard. It just felt so good. And so, tonight, I go to sleep grateful for strange things I don't understand and the wonderful sacred space in so many places in my life.