Two friends were joining the annual writers’ retreat for the first time. They’d only be there about half the week and were arriving the second full day. A couple hours after they let me know they’d left home, I called to ask,
Where are you? Are you here yet? How much longer?
Yes, I sounded like the impatient child in the backseat. Usually, the question repeated a million times or more is, “Are we there yet?” but mine was slightly altered. It’s not always where we’re going. Sometimes it’s who is joining us where we are.
Did you ever feel ready for a friend to arrive for a sleepover or a grandparent to arrive for a family gathering or playtime? It’s not that you were going anywhere together. It wasn’t about your own destination. It was about the shared meeting place. It was a pause in the journey, as if we converge at a rest area just to take the opportunity to be together for a little while.
Sometimes we need to wait for someone. We need patience.
I know we often meet people in order to do something. We meet to shop. We meet to travel. We meet to solve a problem. But sometimes we can meet to come alongside each other, to share space and time to do life. We have separate lists and priorities. We have individual goals. And we respect and encourage each other.
I know a similar dynamic happens in marriages and families, but it’s a bit different. In those relationships, we expect to be together often, and we don’t set all of our goals, because we need to work alongside each other to accomplish some things. Typically, one or two people lead in the goalsetting and task-assigning. But at the writers’ retreat, each of us has individual goals. There might be similarities among our lists, but each one is personal. We individually set our pace, priorities, and schedules. We meet together each evening to share and encourage. We check in for accountability.
We are separate and together in our here.
How can you come together with others today? How can you share your here? How can you journey to someone else’s here? How will you anticipate the togetherness of here? How will you invite differences within the here while establishing encouragement and accountability as a common value and priority?
Doing life with others will have challenges and crises. But it also has anticipation and refreshment.