Five Minute Friday: friend

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you.” –John 15:12-14

So simple. So far from simple.

Love as He loves us. How does He love us? In laying down His life. God-Himself, not grasping for glory, but making himself nothing in obedience to the point of death — even death on a cross.

For us, His friends, whom He calls to do the same.

And we’re always looking for the glory in the giving up: “See me lay down my life! See me loving like Christ!” Holding our “laid-down” lives aloft: “Look at my great love!” Oh the irony.

But these are the lives for which Christ’s was laid down. And if we love at all, it is because we have been loved.

He tells us to love as we already have been loved. Our loving doesn’t earn us His friendship: we have His life laid down, making us His friends. And because we’re His friends, we can do what He commands us.

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Linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday prompt, friend. Visit her site by clicking on the “friend” button.

©2017 by Stacy Crouch

 

“little geniuses”

“I’m an alphabetical order genius!” he exclaimed, long ago in the children’s room of the Warren A. Hood Library, from whence we scoured the web compiling annotated bibliographies and pages of obligatory research on things old and obscure and odd.

He works on a Colorado oil field now, and I alphabetize stacks of literature tests, stacks of Profile Essays. Another of that brave number is a mommy now. A fourth is flying to Israel as I type. The list could go on.

We sat surrounded by stacks of reference books. They napped under library desks. Once we smuggled a half-gallon of cookies-n-cream ice cream to one of those tables, scooped it into plastic punch cups with plastic spoons, tried to eat it all before it melted, before we were found out.

What was it we were learning, writing pages of blank verse fantasy about obscure characters from Charles Dickens’ Bleak House interacting with theories out of Marx, Freud, Wollstonecraft? What was it we were learning, trying to find out the names of the little ballerinas who appear in the closing scene of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas? What was it we were learning, the evening we all went to my parents’ house to bake Cornish hens?

I wax nostalgic, alphabetizing my papers and tests, and I wonder about it. How we learned patience, persistence, how we made it a project in camaraderie rather than competition, how they called me from the classroom the week I was sick in bed with stomach flu, how I brought a can of chicken soup and a package of crackers to the library the week they were suffering from colds. How, when it was over, that most-dreaded course of our college careers, I felt sorry to see it done, to turn in the huge notebook, to walk away.

The Venerable Bede calls us, through the voice of Cædmon, to “praise heaven-kingdom’s Guardian, / the Measurer’s might and his mind-plans,” and I think of those mind-plans, so different from mine, the strange route which brought me from there to here, from instructed to instructor, from near friend to far-away friend.

When I tell my students to study together, give them assignments to work together in class, somewhere underneath it I think I’m telling them to become good friends. To do this thing as a group instead of as individuals, to make sure that the things I say, the things I tell them to read and write, are only a tiny percentage of the things they learn while here.

Certainly, I want them to improve the way they organize their essays. I’ll be pleased if they remember that Shakespeare’s “mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.” But I also want them to learn about living relationally, about forgiving, about things that can brighten even windowless library rooms, that can cheer even dreary hours spent with scholarly articles.

I may forever be confused about whether to put “Mc-” before or after “Ma-,” but I am certain that life is better because of the people in it. And for that do I praise the mind-plans of the mighty Measurer, who gives us gifts on our way to heaven-kingdom.

 

©2013 by Stacy Nott
Hubistical title taken from Dr. H., who used to thank us for being there.

Five Minute Friday: Jump

Here goes my longer-than-five-minute Friday with Lisa-Jo and her flash mob of writers. The word is jump, and I’m borrowing worlds today.

Jump! Digory and Polly, hands clasped, leave the Wood Between the Worlds and return home, bringing with them Queen Jadis, with her unfortunately vice-like grip on Digory’s unfortunate ear. “A dem fine woman!” says Uncle Andrew, the magician. But she isn’t, not really.

I don’t tend to jump into pools, myself. I like to do things gradually, wade in, on tiptoe, torturing myself with the cold which teases its way around my ribcage, making me catch my breath and shiver. It would be easier to jump in, be all wet all at once, but I can rarely bring myself to jump in anywhere.

When entering new worlds, I suppose wading in doesn’t work very well. The pools in the Wood Between the Worlds are not the sort, I suspect, which can be waded into. Even without the wood, I’ve stood at the edge of worlds, tried to ease my way in. It seems you have to be in over your ears before you’re really there.

It’s so much easier for me if I have a friend beside me, to clasp the hand of my soul and plunge in with me. Sometimes the friend is already in the world, drawing me in over my ears before I have time to protest. Sometimes the friend is more afraid than I am, so that I am the one pulling, suddenly bold: let’s jump!

Which is, I suppose, how Digory and Polly woke the witch, in the first place: Digory borrowing boldness from Polly’s caution, doing what he might never have dared without her, bringing destruction on the witch’s world of Charn, on his own city of London, on the new-sung world of Narnia.

Be careful where you jump, and why, and with whom. Sometimes, yes, the fearful friend needs to be pulled, but sometimes it’s better to sit on the edge with that friend, watching the wild worlds from a safe distance, not, by any means, disturbing the water . . .

And there I have mixed metaphors, jumped wildly from one world to another, only able to hope, dear reader, that you followed somehow before the secret door came crashing closed and left our little fellowship in darkness.

Thanks, Lisa-Jo!

©2013 by Stacy Nott

Mrs. V, née C

We were friends immediately, there beside the piano in the residence hall lobby, because we’d both been homeschooled, both been raised in the military, both wore brown leather sandals. A math major at a liberal arts school, she quickly became a steadying influence in our circle of musicians, artists, and literarians, coming to my dorm room routinely to “borrow water” from my filter-pitcher, taking long walks through the neighborhood, sprawling on the bed working algebra equations.

She wore more lace and floral prints than any of the rest of us, but she was also more willing to throw herself whole-heartedly into rough frisbee games, never minding collisions and bruises. She blushed easily — a thing we rather exploited — and she took things at their literal values, comfortable that one and one equal two, while others of us sat and speculated about why they should equal two, and if there were times when they did not, and what their equalling two meant in the large scheme of things. She was more likely to be kind where others of us were squeamish.

Our circle tended to patronize classical music and obscure indie bands, to swoon for dark melancholy heroes, and to deem those movies best which were most artistic and unsettling. But she continued cheerfully listening to her country music, dreaming of country men “oozing manliness,” and preferring movies which ended happily, however little artistry was involved.

It shouldn’t have surprised me, therefore, when she moved West after graduating, but it did. Nor should I have been surprised at the message she sent me earlier this year: “I think I’ve found my cowboy.”  But I was. And then I found myself flying to Colorado, driving to Wyoming, standing behind her in a field and blinking back tears as her bridegroom beamed at her from under his cowboy hat.

This isn’t a fairy tale, so the wedding only begins the story, and I can’t write “happily ever after” just here. (It belongs at the ends, you know.) But I know the One who has written “happily ever after” at the end of His story, and I know that He who began the good work of the marriage contracted in a Wyoming field last weekend will bring it to completion in His good time. In that certainty, I celebrate.

 

©2012 by Stacy Nott