I had a lovely conversation with Ingrid last night via text. I told her I was going to be a smashing hit in my dress at Ahava tonight. I told her I was going to bring misteltoe to our set up shindig (which will be a breeze, thanks to how much is already put together for us thanks to Comedy Works). I told her that I am glad to be leaving in a month because everyone tonight can be my friend, and nothing more. I told her that we’ll have a sharefest over lunch tomorrow. And I told her that she is great and she said this morning that I am sweet and basically, it was an all around good conversation.
Tonight is Ahava. I have just pulled two cakes from the oven. I am about to get started whipping up green beans with garlic and onions and coarse ground kosher salt. I keep thinking about that dress downstairs in the canvas bag. I am fretting about walking in heels. I have to shave my legs. I must shave my legs. I’ve been saving those hairy monsters for a grooming so that they’ll be extra smooth tonight, inside at the raffle, outside on the patio, wishing for snow, tripping in four inch red heels, laughing over food and drink. Yeah, I’ve got to shave them beasties.
Tonight is Ahava. The word means love in Hebrew. It’s the name of the place where the Jews stopped on their return from exile. They fasted, prayed, re-covenanted* and then they partied. If there’s one thing my church is good at: we throw fricking awesome parties. And though Ahava Fest is not directly related to Christmas, it falls around the same time of year because the Gregorian Calendar ends at this time of year. That’s sort of what we are celebrating: the end of a good hard year (as are all years) and looking forward to the next.
Ahava does not just mean love. It’s sort of the middle word for love in Hebrew. Riyah means friendship. Dod means the mingling of souls. Ahava means: I have seen your junk. And I’m sticking around. I’m. Not. Going. Anywhere.
That’s what we are celebrating tonight. Ingrid’s heard my junk, some of it. I confessed a lot of it last weekend at Caribou with her and Grahm. There was a man in the over stuffed chair behind me, he kept peaking over his newspaper and his wife threw darting glances from behind the crinkled pages of a well loved book. Grahm stared off for some of the conversation, and I thought he was in his own world, ignoring the conversation taking place as I laid out my faults on the table and pushed emotion back down with the dark turtle mocha. But there were times when he would turn and make eye contact, direct and peircing, and he would say something that I needed to hear. Or he would laugh and tell me that I”m not such a very bad person, and I shouldn’t worry about it, and that we’re both still young–even though he hates when people tell him that. And behind those oval glasses and the hair that kept falling in his eyes, behind the quiet and seemingly gruff appearance of boots and pick up truck, he was sweet and precious. And Ingrid kept laughing at me! My naivete, my space to grow, my fears and shames. She kept telling me that Jesus loves me, Jesus has grace for me. Jesus knows my junk, he knew my junk before I was even a hope in the marriage of my parents. And still he died.
Ahava is celebrating the crap my church goes through: broken finances, sick children, struggling marriages. But it is also celebrating the comfort of talking with friends over coffee that I did not buy myself. We are celebrating that I was open, that Ingrid hugged me, that Grahm didn’t judge. I’m pretty jacked up. But they’ve seen that and they are sticking around, because Jesus stuck around for them.
we’re. not. going. anywhere.
*no, that’s not technically a word. But I’m going to pretend like it is.