Longtime friends of Dan’s own a historic cabin on the Metolius River in Camp Sherman. It comes with an invitation for Dan to use it any time.
A few Saturdays ago, we helped these friends with a couple projects: an outdoor covered porch and an indoor rod-and-curtain-hanging endeavor. (And when I say we helped, I mean mostly it was Dan while I cheered him on.)
Our friends provided lunch at their picnic table that day—salad and fresh cherries and cheese sticks and homemade granola bars—within sound of the river, within sound of their words and wisdom and laughter.
I wrote a note the next day thanking them for giving us the opportunity to show this kindness, because of all the kindness and generosity they’ve shown to us.
On more than one occasion—as Dan and I were building a friendship—we made the cabin our home base. Lunch supplies were unloaded onto the kitchen counter, a fire was stoked in the woodstove, and we hiked a portion of the river trail. By the time we returned to the cabin, the place had warmed up.
The cabin is where Dan first told me he loved me, where he later asked me to be his bride. And just upriver from the cabin, our wedding unfolded beneath epic trees.
There’s something magical about the small community of Camp Sherman. Even when it involves climbing on ladders and step stools and measuring and hammering.
The magic goes beyond the location of the cabin where Dan proposed. It’s more than the setting of our outdoor wedding. There is laughter in the air from the river that flows through the tiny town (think: general store, one-room schoolhouse, restaurant, and tiny chapel beneath the pines). A rather large mountain stands guard just to the south and casts its shadow over the settlement.
And everyone is friendly. I’m pretty sure no one is allowed in town who isn’t friendly.
In her book Bittersweet, Shauna Niequist wrote about being one of four women who dropped everything once every few years, and flew across the country—with babies, if necessary—to spend a weekend together. Because they had been college roommates:
Good friendships are like eating breakfast. You think you’re too busy to eat breakfast, but then you find yourself exhausted and cranky halfway through the day and discover that your attempt to save time totally backfired.
Which coincides with this thought from the Bible:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another …Hebrews 10:24-25
The original Greek for the word spur can be translated as “provoke, irritation of mind.”
We have permission to provoke one another toward love and goodness.
The value of staying connected is two-way. It’s about what we can learn from our clans and tribes and life groups. And what we can teach them.
About why we should provoke them toward love and deliberate acts of kindness. And why they should provoke us.
About how we can love and serve them better. And how we can humble ourselves and be loved and served by them when we’re losing a spouse, when we’re facing the uncertainty of cancer, when we’re hurting from a son or daughter who has walked away.
This past weekend, we rafted with our cabin-owning friends. They recruited us to be
guinea pigs passengers for white water raft guides-in-training.
We survived. And had more fun than grandparents ought to be allowed.
On the way home, we shared food truck cuisine at an outdoor table with the cabin-owning, white-water-rafting couple. When Dan got up to find the men’s room, his friend commented on what a good man Dan is. “I have maybe five friends I could call at 3:00am if I needed help. And Dan is one of them.”
We feel the same about this couple. There are a handful of friends we could call in the middle of the night. If needed. And they fall into that category.
Shauna Niequist finished her thought on taking the time to keep the bonds of friendship strong:
We were made to live connected and close.
Staying connected and close is about the power of belonging. It’s about provoking one another toward goodness. It’s about giving hope and courage—and receiving hope and courage.
Everyone needs 3:00am friends.
Marlys, thank you for this beautiful article, straight from your heart . . .and camera! What an encouraging message, especially when people are being drawn apart with many things which are going on at this time! Love you, my sister in Jesus!
Especially when people are being drawn apart … are drawing lines … are drawing swords. Thank you for your encouraging words, my dear friend and sister in Christ!
I love this Marlys. I feel your love in every edition. Keep sharing the love!
Love back to you,
Love to you, as well, Peggy. Even though COVID has kept us apart this past year or so, I value your friendship.
My husband and I are heading to Camp Sherman in a couple of weeks for three nights in a lovely cabin facing the Metolius. It is a magical place and your piece on friendship, love, connection and place hit home. Thank-you!
“Magical” is the right word for Camp Sherman, isn’t it, Rita?! Enjoy your time in the cabin on the Metolius.
Good morning, Marlys –
I always enjoy and learn each time I read your blog. They always give me something to think about.
This morning I thought of friends and relationships. You know about my brain cancer and so do many
other people. There in lies my problem. Solitude can be a wonderful place and I live it. But I am tired
of living it day after day. This is the relationship of my story. Who would want to be connected with
me and living with cancer. I just got out of treatment again and I am trying to get a bit more fitness.
I guess solitude is getting old, but this is where I’m at.
Thank you for allowing me to vent out some. you don’t have to respond unless you want too.
Be well, be kind and love all,
Gary, I’m an introvert and cherish time alone … but I can’t imagine how tired ‘living in solitude’ would get after a while. It makes me sad to know that sorrow accompanies your cancer. One is hard enough, but the two combined has got to be unbearable at times. Vent any time you need to, my friend.
Marlys, so beautifully said. Friends are God’s chosen family – so precious, an amazing gift. Thank you for your friendship.
Well said, Allison: “Friends are God’s chosen family.” I so appreciate your friendship.