Indeed that is what it's been - the physical ways of connecting and making arrangements have just been metaphors for connecting in other ways. Conversations for me have focused in on the deepest level - how are these friends growing older? What is most important to them now? What visions inform their lives? How do they interact with those that inspire mine? How do they live out their Christian faith in context of various churches and denominations?
A common theme has been, not unexpectedly, that these friends, like we, are often dissatisfied with many versions of Christian fellowship. They, like we, will not settle for "rules" that seem superfluous or even alien to true Christian realities - levels of church politics, status or elitism. Not surprisingly these are continuing versions of what connected us in the first place. And of course the ones who have remained friends, or have become better friends now, are those who share a certain distaste for anything phony, legalistic or pretentious.
Most of all what unites us is a delight in each others' company, a warmth of acceptance and sharing of our humanity. For me this is a special delight, not only with these friends but with my daughter who is the biggest reason for this whole trip.
Each day has brought more depth and points of connection. Today we spent with a friend and her husband, a friend with whom I shared deeply over the years over a decade ago. It was as if the years had rolled away and we were back at her table affirming each other and bringing our gifts of discernment to bear on each others' lives. Only this time it was even better. All that has happened to each of us has only deepened our friendship, left on the shelf for years.
How could I expect anything else from my precious friend, and my precious Father? He is the author of these relationships, the keeper of our lives, the planner of the future. We walk in His grace and favour, and He, on our journeys, makes the points of connection.