Saturday, August 15, 2009

Two Old Friends

A couple of weeks ago I had the rare pleasure of getting together, on two separate occasions, with two old friends. The first was an old friend from my seminary days. This doesn’t seem like such a long time ago, until I realize that I have been ordained for 15 years (as of July 16). My seminary friend was a "study buddy"; I met her when we were both first moving to one of the campus dormitories. We studied Greek and Church History together, among other things. More than that, though: she and I were part of a small group of women seminarians who shared our hopes and dreams for ourselves in the future. I admired that my friend was always clear, from the beginning, that she wanted to be a professor.

And now, here she is teaching New Testament and Homiletics at the seminary we both graduated from. She's one of the regular contributors to the popular Working Preacher website, among her other accomplishments.

I can’t help admiring her clear vision and ability to go out and achieve what she wanted. Our conversation that evening ranged from "shop talk" to family to the new visions and dreams we have for ourselves and our church. I can’t believe we live about seven minutes from one another, and we haven’t done this before. I hope we will do it again.

The second old friend was one from my high school days: we haven’t seen each other since we were both 18 years old, which was longer ago than I care to think about, at least on some days. She went out east to a prestigious college, and I did intend to keep in touch, but I didn’t. One day I was noodling around on facebook, and thinking about friends who shared my passion for writing back then, and I found her name somewhere. She and I weren’t "best friends" but we were good school friends, and we had (as I remember it) a lot of deep discussions about writing and philosophy and religion and creativity. One of the most important things I didn’t know about her when I was in high school was this:

She was crazy about dogs.

Turns out, she still is. In high school, it was German Shepherds that she loved the most. Now, among other things, she is a well-known breeder of a rare dog native to Israel called the Canaan Dog. She has now living with her, four adult dogs and three small puppies who were just born about a month ago. Her adult dogs are: Tovah, Naftalia, Mazel and Yomi. (My favorite of the four was Naftalia: all the dogs in that litter were named after the sons of Jacob.)

Canaan dogs are descended from the pariah dogs that existed in Canaan from pre-biblical times. They became the guard and shepherd dogs for the Israelites in ancient times, but remained mostly undomesticated until recently. Dr. Rudolphina Menzel began developing the dog in the 1930s as a sentry to guard isolated Jewish settlements.

As for me, when I think of the Canaan dog, I can’t help thinking about the story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman. I can’t help remember how Jesus told her, "It’s not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs." I can’t help remembering her great reply, "But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table." It's fascinating to think that the dog they were perhaps envisioning was something like the Canaan dogs that my friend breeds: intelligent, loyal, beautiful.

Two old friends: they are so different in many ways, but in one way alike: they are both women of passion and accomplishment, both with the ability to see visions and dream dreams, and with the ability to make them real. Both of them women of God, faithful to God's dreams and visions for them, and for the world.

They give me courage to risk my own dreams, even the wild ones.


Rev SS said...

Nice reflection and tribute!

FranIAm said...

Oh Diane - so lovely. Friendship and dreams and dogs and so much more.

Thank you!

Mompriest said...

Inspiring friends and friendships!

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

This is beautiful. What a great tribute to friendship in general and your specific friends. And I think it's always good to get encouragement to follow dreams. I've needed a lot of it lately.

Presbyterian Gal said...

What great reunions!

And I really love the Canaan dogs and their place in the Bible. That is so cool. What pretty dogs they are. Naftalia would have been my favorite name as well.