preface · part one · part two · part three · part four · part five · part six  · part seven

viii. a friend for the end of the world


I tend to forget that I was half in love with Someone Else when I met Barnabas. I had already planned a life and named our children. And written an acrostic love song using his full government name. Certainly because I am extra, but mostly for the same reason that Raymond Baron wrote his father’s eulogy while he was still living. It’s what writers do. So that was the beginning of Barnabas. I was entirely taken off guard . . . shooketh, as the youth said back then . . . surprised.

Roo Panes had recently released Pacific, and my mind and vocals were continually wafting with the feeling of being surprised. I had just recorded my first studio EP, Lifter of My Head, and was spent from the exhaustion of giving birth. A friend of mine had organized a hike that I woke up without the energy to follow through with and I was laying in bed half debating when I felt a strong impression that I should go . . . it would be good for me to walk in the woods with friends. I needed that as much as I needed to lay in bed for three days and not do anything at all. And when the walk was over, my bed would be there.

Because of the time spent lingering in the valley of decision {ha}, I decided to grab breakfast from the Hardees mere feet away from the Turf Shack on my way to the woodlands. I was usually through the Hardees drive-thru in all of 6 minutes so I had calculated a timely arrival. After sitting in the drive-thru for 10 minutes before even placing my biscuit order I scarfed it down while driving up to the woodlands the long way. I was exactly 10 minutes late which was 100% uncharacteristic for me, ha. Thankfully, my friends had waited.

As I sheepishly drove past the small group to find parking, the friend that had organized the outing cheered me on in regards to the album I had finished recording, mixing, and mastering in Charlotte less than twelve hours prior by greeting me as ‘Rebekkah The Band.’ Crawling over gravel in the Subaru, I finally found a spot, locked up my valuables in the trunk and commenced with the sorry-everyone-has-been-waiting-for-me jog of shame.

There was one other friend from the group they had been waiting for, but she ended up deciding not to come. Once it was determined that I rounded out our walking group, we stood awkwardly in the middle of the gravel parking lot not making any executive decisions. As a driver, I hate when pedestrians stand idly in my way as if they don’t see and hear me coming, so as other cars approached I started to walk towards a trail head just to get out of the auto flow. When everyone followed me, I immediately noped out of being the leader, ha.

Oh, I have no idea where I’m going; I was just moving for cars,’ I said.

But I’m also not a fan of standing around not making any executive decisions, so I pointed to the brawny physique sporting a Spartan ‘Finisher’ tee shirt and elected him to be our leader. As I suspected, he was familiar with the terrain that awaited us and fell into step beside me in the front of the group.

I don’t think we’ve met – I’m {Barnabas},’ He offered . . .

So a week before this, I’d gone on a walk with the other guy whose future as my husband I was planning, ha. To be honest, I wasn’t wowed, but it was tolerable. It would work. He seemed . . . to match the output of my algorithm. But Barnabas hit different. One of the first questions he asked me was how I fell in love with Jesus, which led to a refreshing conversation about the planetary elements of Heaven . . . new colors and scents and probably even senses. We talked about California and our shared appreciation for Ocean Beach in San Francisco. And where we were different . . . he was a runner and I was in the middle of ruthlessly eliminating hurry from my life. He’d rather sprint through 75 years and call it. I’d rather walk steadily through 120.

Four hours later we emerged from the woods with a few fewer friends who had departed at an earlier juncture. Barnabas initiated high-fives all around and I walked across the gravel to my car. Tired and, as aforementioned, shooketh, I sat with my left leg hanging out of the driver’s side car door and and asking God: What Just Happened!?

I remember laying on my tiny couch in the Turf Shack that evening Processing. And what I came to was that Barnabas felt like looking in a mirror. And that was a novelty to me . . . he wasn’t just like me in any particular way, but there were some meaningful commonalities. We had different thoughts about things, and sometimes opposite perspectives, but it was still so easy to talk about All The Things at length and with some measure of depth. It was somehow like my insides poured out and staring back at me through somebody both strange and familiar.


As I was praying about “what-all” if anything to share from this encounter, I have really wanted to put pride aside and see things from God’s perspective. And I think friendship is the emphasis . . . that what has been lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

I have had so small a view of friendship, particularly with men. I have been so constricted and fixated on particular outcomes. But the love of God is broadening me. And I am thankful. With this new unblinding light comes a rush of emotion that I’m becoming better equipped to deal with. There is sadness to think on all the good friendships I missed out on because one of us {usually me} wanted it to be “more.” Sadness over what I’ve been missing that’s led to the disconnect . . . sadness over just how broken everything is – that so few of us know the purity of friendship in the way God intended; embarrassment over just how ‘extra’ I have been {insert cringey emoji face}. And such deep gratitude that God is healing me. Personally, restoring my soul and redeeming my relationships; and also reconciling all things to Himself through Jesus and His sacrifice for us all – His friends and His enemies – on the cross.

There’s a lot that could have gone differently with Barnabas, and something to be said for clarity and intentional ‘pursuit’ when someone strikes your fancy. And. There is so much about friendship that I have retroactively learned in considering interactions, conversations, and perspectives of people who have approached it with more openness than me.

While there were a plethora of details that I and others easily interpreted to be romantic interest, there were also plenty of simple expressions of friendship . . . illustrations of Barnabas’ hospitality and reflections of his shepherd heart. One such expression was the impromptu birthday party that resulted from a low-attendance movie night for our bible study group.

The pre-meditated Saturday shindig happened to fall on my actual birthday, and a night on which few people were able to make it; so Barnabas gave me first preference on everything from the delicious salmon dinner he made, to the three different desserts he picked up from Whole Foods, to the rental of Napoleon Dynamite for our viewing pleasure. Such a fun birthday, and reminiscent of the goodnesses God blessed me with through His Body parts in the Bay Area.

As it tends to be, my birthday was somewhat of an inauguration of the holiday season during which Barnabas’ hospitality provided a rich and comforting hearth for feasting and fellowship.

Given that there was a pandemic {ha} I deeply appreciated Barnabas’ openness and hospitality to make space for us all in his home and keep us connected with other members of the household of faith. So close to the housechurches I low-key hoped the pandemic would produce . . .


When I prayed about God enlarging my heart this spring, I had no idea that He would work with regard to my emotions. I had no idea how desperately I have needed Him to. But He is so faithful and my heart has been increased. My capacity for receiving from Him and other people is greater than it ever has been, which means that I have so much more to give . . . with still so much more to learn about the friendship of God and the fellowship He has in mind for His humans.

As God’s Word became flesh and dwelt among us, He revealed to us His higher thoughts and ways:

if you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. by this my father is glorified – that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

as the Father has loved me, so have i loved you. abide in my love . . .

YOU ARE MY FRIENDS IF YOU DO WHAT I COMMAND YOU. NO LONGER DO I CALL YOU SERVANTS, FOR THE SERVANT DOES NOT KNOW WHAT HIS MASTER IS DOING; BUT I HAVE CALLED YOU FRIENDS, FOR ALL THAT I HAVE HEARD FROM MY FATHER I HAVE MADE KNOWN TO YOU . . .

JOHN 15:7-15; 16:13-15

We are in His confidence; He trusts us with so much. He has called us friends.

Abide in His friendship.

take heart,
R.

One response to “THE CHOREOGRAPHY OF BIRDS”

  1. One of my closest male friends started out as a date to Starbucks (the other, we were high school besties). A few failed dates later we eased into the flow of friendship. Later, there was a period of jealousy when my cousin tried to set him up with one of her friends. I expressed my jealousy and intent to spend more intentional time together and in the end, friendship was more comfortable. Now that he’s married, his wife has (surprisingly) become one of my biggest supporters in my writing and my art. She’s given me feedback on my book when it was in it’s rough stage and has most recently commissioned (I use the word lightly because I don’t feel skilled enough for it) a piece of artwork for their baby’s nursery. Can’t wait to meet him a few months from now.
    I say all this to say, friendships with guys can be challenging, but I couldn’t imagine my life without his awful (though, well intentioned) advice. He’s taught me a lot about men in general and it has benefited my romantic relationships. Also, the fact that his wife supports our friendship and is developing her own friendship with me is something for which I am deeply grateful. It could’ve gone bad very quickly.

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