It’s people like Patrick. I think about that pretty regularly. How the physical ennui I feel when pouring orange juice is quite a crime. Because it’s orange juice. I haven’t found anything more lively than orange juice. And yet I find myself staring at its hues almost disgusted that something could be so orange. And I do this because I’m not a journalist. I’m not in a newsroom. I’m not around people like Patrick, crass people with crass words who tell refined stories. Magicians. Honest and forward people who sleep on a pub couch with questionable origins. People who wake up from this couch, look at a stranger, and say “If they knew there was going to be a tornado, then they should have asked for the 12:15 deadline.” Beautiful people like Patrick.
I saw Patrick two months ago, and my friend could immediately tell I was uncomfortable. I could feel the social interaction that would ensue. All of the small-talk questions and catching-up. All of the reminders of things I don’t have anymore, journalism and newsrooms and inappropriate humor. And so I created with my friend a plan to avoid him completely. And I did just that.
And I do that often. When I went to Boston, I didn’t tell my good friend who lives in the city that I was coming. When I visit my hometown, I plan dentist appointments so I don’t feel the pressure to visit my favorite teacher.
Keith Richards says that “friendship is a diminishing of distance between people.” Maddy and I sometimes joke when we leave our hangs that there is now this “distance between us.” But though it’s a joke for Maddy, it’s not a joke for many. I create real and honest distance between people. It is a distance that I didn’t realize was a problem until God presented me with people who did the opposite. Cousins who I never talk to, beaming and waving through the phone to welcome me to a family reunion I didn’t find important enough to attend. Former CCW students who I don’t talk to when they visit my city, but when I find myself in theirs, greet me with a hug and hot tea.
I am the tribe of Judah. I hold mandatory meetings in my head with debates on the conference floor on whether or not I should engage with a friend. I pour bright orange juice into glass jars and ask myself if the hole I feel can be filled without my King. And though I feel these meetings are quite out of my control, the consequences are still too loud to ignore.
There is power in an invitation. Just as David would not be king over Judah without being invited, so my King will not lord over me without my consent. My God, my friends, my family, are worth an invitation.
An invitation to try and diminish the distance between us.
Because when the trying for that ends, so then does our story.
And I am just so completely enamored that our God will never stop trying. Without the need for a conference meeting, He reaches across the distance. He longs to be our King, even when we have set up other kings in his place.
And when we actively ignore people like Patrick, our very own friends, He still calls us worthy of an invitation.