Friendship between women can be a grace-filled gift that can last through the years. Or, at other, hopefully much rarer times, it can be a cross to bear and a lesson to be learned. When I think back over the years of my life, it is measured by the grand sweep of abiding friendships with other females. As a lonely, shy seventh grader badly in need of friends in a new school, I had my world come alive when I received an invitation to a pajama party from the leader of the "city kids," who befriended me. In high school, I had a sidekick who went to activities with me as we, together, explored the new and strange world of the opposite sex. In college I had a "little sister" in my sorority who shared the challenge, joy, and perplexity of young adulthood as we guided each other through thick and thin. During the richest times and the most desperate times comes a woman friend reaching out with patience, humor, and sometimes pain. These kinds of encounters open a new world and allow us to navigate the narrow passage into the next stage of our lives.
There is something easy, something flowing, something sacred that can go on between women. Quickly, communication becomes shorthand, and trust builds through humor and the sharing of those thousands of little experiences that don't count for anything except—in retrospect—simply living life. It may be because we share the same body structure and partake of the knowledge and mystery of creating new life. It may be because we have been misunderstood by the "powers that be" over the centuries and have, at times, had to huddle together to keep body and soul fluid and surviving. Whatever the ingredients, there is an alchemical exchange between certain women that furthers both along the path of life. Linda Bucklin and Mary Keil have modeled this in their work together. They are close friends, and out of that friendship comes this book: Come Rain or Come Shine: Friendships Between Women.
This book is a compilation of stories about women connecting to one another. Friendship does not happen between all women. And this is what makes it special, as these wonderful stories so clearly teach us. Sometimes the circumstances of life—like moving to a new city, or losing your job, or entering your child in school—create a clear opportunity. But rarely does it happen automatically. Openness to friendship is a key ingredient even though recognition of a woman as a friend may not happen for quite some time. Many times the friendship has to go through some crisis or trial, some event that forges a bond and solidifies trust.
Inevitably, the themes of difficulty and betrayal are woven into these stories, for the authors wisely know that friendship between women must be tested in the cold winds of the shadow that we all carry. Seeing another woman deeply and clearly and understanding her motivations are part of friendship.
Sometimes it takes painful and disappointing experiences to begin to value ourselves as friends. Some of us need to learn that what we offer in friendship is rich and is worth its weight in gold. We must learn discernment about when to offer it and when it must be withdrawn because the other is not able to appreciate the potential gift of friendship.
These short, compact stories are meant to be savored and reflected upon. They can be read slowly over lazy days or used as a morning reflection before running off to work. What they offer is a small and clear window into the female heart.
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