But it has its downside. You are away from friends and family for long periods of time and though you keep in touch your lives run parallel courses. Sometimes it takes its toll on relationships but I've been fortunate that most of my friendships have remained firm through moves and shifts in locale and "home".
Being "away" has often meant missing great, and not so great, moments in friends lives - weddings, engagements, births, deaths, anniversaries, birthdays. Oh yes, you send flowers or greetings or make a phone call but ultimately you are missing in the joy - and the sorrow - of important moments in their lives.
Such a moment is happening in Ottawa tonight: in a few hours a dear friend who I have known for 30 years is taking another step in a life that has been varied, rich - at times bizarre - and rewarding.
When I first met Ross he had moved to Ottawa to become minister at the First United Methodist church. I will not go into the story of the many changes that I saw in his life over the following years - that would be an intrusion and deserves a story in itself - but eventually he left the church. The incredible gifts that he had as a preacher/teacher were put to use in the later capacity as he began to establish himself in the training and facilitating world. He had the gift to reach out to and in to people. His activities ranged from dealing with Armed Forces personnel to AIDS advocates and activists.
I remember when he announced, at one of our lunch dates, that he had met someone who he thought could become very special in his life. Given that Ottawa is a small town I should not have been surprised to discover that though I didn't know Albert personally, I knew of him and had worked with some of his family. And indeed Albert was that someone special. Sadly we missed their wedding last year but I can honestly say I could not have wished for anyone for my friend who was a better match. Again their story is a personal one and not the reason for this posting.
My dear friend Ross, soon to be "Father" Ross, and his spouse Albert, soon I guess to be the Vicar's wife?????The reason for this rambling reminiscence of a lovely and loving friendship is that tonight Ross enters another phase of his life. Tonight the Bishop of Ottawa and priests from the diocese will lay hands on him and ordain him as a priest in the Anglican Church of Canada. Albert will be there and they will be surround by a host of loving friends and relations. I only wish that I could be amongst that congregation to first say goodbye to Ross and then embrace with all my heart "Father" Ross.
My dear friend, congratulations on the newest path in your life. I know you will travel it as you have traveled every road - with humour, love, devotion and with Albert as your support it will a happy, if challenging, time.
Love you with all my heart.
26 aprile - Santa Hope