Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow. –Swedish Proverb
One of the joys of my vocation is the privilege of walking with people in joy and in sorrow, sharing laughter and tears. There aren’t too many vocations that allow that kind of interaction as an integral part of the “job description.” In fact, one of my seminary professors reminded me that a pastor is one of the few persons who has an automatic invitation into peoples’ lives.
Even pastors are finding it more difficult to forge those meaningful relationships. People are busy. Not everyone is willing to welcome a “stranger” into their home and life. We are taught to be more suspicious and careful. We build protective walls based on past experiences with woundings and disappointments. We are wary creatures.
Despite Facebook “friends” and Twitter “tweets” that offer instant connection and a sense of relationship, it is still important to reach out and develop face-to-face ties with others. Forming a web of friends and a community of support can provide a safety net when the going gets tough and a party when a celebration is needed.
After having our basic needs for shelter, food, and safety met, the most important thing in life is relationships. We find meaning in relationships and are able to understand ourselves better when viewed through the mirror of others. Relationships add a layer of richness that no amount of money can buy or “stuff” can satisfy.
I count myself rich in relationship. I have a wonderful spouse, amazing children, and a fine extended family (including my husband’s folks). I am blessed with friendships forged throughout the years, some of whom are geographically close and others who live far away (yes, I’m grateful for Facebook and e-mail).
I have been blessed to serve some delightful faith communities, too. I realized again how lucky I am this afternoon while sharing home communion with a parishioner and her daughter, while working with our parish administrator, and during our Thursday night Bible study. Although I’ve only been a part of this community for only six months, they have welcomed me with open arms and hearts. We’re having fun, and we’re building a strong relationship web.
Remember that Beatles song that went “Can’t buy me love, everybody tells me so/Can’t buy me love, no no no, no”? That’s why relationships matter. They’re priceless! I am a lucky woman.
I have more than enough “stuff.” I have a good roof over my head, plenty of healthy food (and chocolate and coffee, too!). I have reliable transportation. I am wealthy as a citizen of the world. But most of all, I am rich in relationships, love, friendships, and experiences. Thanks to all of you — from Facebook and Compact friends to family to fellow faith journeyers and others I’ve met along the way. You make life not only worth living, but a true joy and delight. And, YOU matter!
Why not make some Swedish paper hearts using these instructions from The Guardian? Click here for instructions. Give them to your friends and family for Valentines Day with a note telling them how much they matter to you.
Photo of Swedish Paper Heart Basket from http://www.guardian.co.uk. Thanks!