Tending the Relationship Garden

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Our neighborhood is alive and vibrant. The warmer weather brings out lots of kids, dog walkers and folks working on their yards and gardens. All of this encourages an increased effort on connectedness.  This, of course, has caused me to ponder.

Why is it we disconnect from others? And I’m thinking about people who are significant in our lives: family, friends, those who have shared a close bond with us. I know the old adage, “Friends for a season, friends for a reason, and friends for a lifetime.” There is no question that people come and go in our lives. Different chapters in our lives are almost always accompanied by different people. However, I’m really thinking about those with whom we hold a significant depth of relationship.

In the early days of being a priest one of the most poignant pastoral conversations I had was with a dying man. He was a person of incredible accomplishment: education, military, career. “Father, you are young and newly married. My guess is you would like to have children; and I hope you do. Please do not make the same mistake I did. I focused on me and my goals and aspirations, and while I achieved much, I am a dying man with few real friends and am not terribly close with my family.” This narrative has subsequently been repeated to me countless times with the same level of regret for not staying connected to those who have been important in our lives.

Losing this connection has all sorts of consequences. I believe among the most impactful is a loss of those who could bring us the greatest clarity about the gifts God has given us, as well as hold us accountable for the stewardship of those gifts.

Like the garden, relationships require consistent tending. When we ‘disconnect’ we lose out on the abundance of what God is creating us to be and the fullness of others’ influence on our lives.

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