I watched my good friends dancing at their wedding a few weeks ago. I watched them dance, and I watched the folks who love them dancing in their honor, and I thought about community and I thought about vows.
I love wedding vows. Traditional or original, they get me every time. But I also love the unspoken vows we make to others in our circle. I watched the dancing and I started to compose my own friendship vows.
So you, you loved and treasured ones with whom we dance and laugh and drink and cry – this is my solemn vow.
I will learn your person, the things that make you comfortable, the things that make you laugh. I will ask questions until I can guess the answers. I will invite you into my home, into the spaces in my history and story of which I am not proud. I will let you see what the kitchen looks like when I wasn’t expecting you. I will leave the front door open. I will hand you keys.
I will be your witness in frustration, in waiting, in the struggle of becoming. I will echo your rants over coffee and cry with you for no reason or all the reasons at once. I will be the keeper of your inside jokes and call back to them at brilliantly inappropriate times. I will curate your quirks and use them in gleeful warfare. I will dare you to play. I will infiltrate your story with moments of giddy stupid wonderful. I will remember your birthday.
I will walk with you in the finding of that someone, should someone be what you seek. I will curse the names of those who hurt you and ogle photographs of dreamy new prospects. I will sit with you in angst. I will dance at your wedding.
I will be the keeper of your best qualities, armed and ready to reflect them to you when you need to remember them most. I will store up a record of your victories and celebrate them wildly, wildly, again and again. I will see your pictures of feet at the beach and think “Thank God – you really deserve a break.” Your win will be my win. I will be quick to forgive. I will offer you grace. I will assume you love me even when you haven’t called. I will assume the best of you, and wish the best for you.
I will kiss the newborn faces of your precious babies. I will count their toes and fingers and celebrate the collaboration between you and a great and generous God. I will chase their toddling footsteps and place my body between them and sharp edges, steep hills, slow falls. I promise to hold their hands and whisper stories of you in your youth to them, watching them blush and giggle with the wonder of a young and reckless you. When they are older, I will listen to the things they are afraid to tell you, after which I will call you and spill all the beans. I will write them letters that praise all that is good in them, and remind them of how they are like you, how they are loved, how they are becoming.
In periods of mourning, I will carry hope for you. I will stand with you in silences, feeding sorrow with casserole, presence, and time. I will speak the holy names of your loved and lost. I will celebrate their having been, their being on. I will claim you even in your failure and laugh with you in your darkest places. I will speak when I don’t know what to say. I will spare you my silence and offer you always my hand and my heart.
When we are older, I will remind you of our starlit endless only youth. I will pour generous glasses of wine and sit porches with you as we speak stories about good old days. I will fawn over your children’s children. I will remember all of their names. I will take long walks with you as long as our legs are able. I will bear witness to your past. I will confirm your truth.
Should you leave this place before me, I will celebrate your home-going. I will praise the God you have returned to and thank Him for the gift you are.
Should I leave you, I will do so ever grateful for having called you my friend.