Friday, March 5, 2010

The Power of Community

My friend Claudia turned 50 last week. I wouldn't even dare to report it except that I turn 51 in a month so I'm not casting any aspersions!

I had the honor of attending her birthday party, hosted by two of her most beloved and long-time (I don't say "old" anymore!) friends. These women love her. And she was surrounded by a dozen other women who love her deeply.

We got to do an activity in which we wrote down on lovely cards 50 Things We Love About Claudia. We didn't each write 50, but all of us together made a serious dent in that number.

After dinner, the cards were handed out to each of us at random and we read them to Claudia. It was a very moving experience. It was sort of like the fabulous tribute to the woman of wisdom at the end of the Book of Proverbs.

As moving as it was, the moment that will always stay in my mind and in my heart was Claudia telling all of us what friendship means to her. She has faced some very challenging situations in the past 50 years. Her faith in God and the friendships that she has lovingly and carefully cultivated, along with the love of her kids, has sustained her and allowed her to keep her optimistic outlook and nurturing attitude toward all those around her. It was beautiful.

It is a scientifically substantiated reality that allowing ourselves to give and receive support in a community it excellent for our health on every level. I suspect Claudia will be around for another 50, given what she has by way of friendships and love.

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