This last weekend was so full with several events in addition to the prayer retreat. Often American friends have questioned what we have missed while away from the UK. Apart from the obvious like our family, friends and health service (!) we have sometimes spoken about missing the sense of belonging that is so subtle, it's almost like being woven into fabric that you do not realize is part and parcel of your life stretching back for decades.
This weekend we enjoyed a great celebration of two friends' 40 years of marriage as they also hit 60 years. They invited 120 people to share in a magnificent hog roast lunch in a barn which was then cleared for an afternoon celidh, followed by cream tea. I commented a few weeks ago about the thrill of sharing in a silver wedding celebration and discovering several couples there who I had married when minister in Cambridge, and whom I had not seen for over 20 years. What memories came flooding back!
Well, on Saturday this memory rush happened again, in spades. Our two friends have been embedded in the Cambridge church so it was no surprise that we knew many of the guests. But what joy it was to re-connect with surprises on every hand. I said to Carol that one of the greatest thrills of all was to see friendships that had begun at the church (which we had no idea had happened), but which have held strong through the years, with friendships crossing generations. As we drove home, we both gave thanks for the experience of belonging in the fabric of these friends lives. We hope never to take this 'fabric' for granted!