Over the years, I have realized that there is a distinction between those whom we call "clergy friends." There are clergy friends and then there are clergy FRIENDS. There are clergy whom we call friends, with whom we have perfectly good collegial relationships, but we only see each other at clergy events and don't get very deep with each other.
On the other side of things are clergy who may have begun in the above category, but who have become real and true friends over the course of time. They are friends who are also clergy. We share a vocation and delight in seeing each other at clergy events, we can work well together, but there is more to the relationship than just being clergy. We can trust each other, and share secrets together, and rejoice and cry together.
I've often thought that the sign that a relationship is moving from the first category to the second is when the boundaries between our professional and personal lives become more fluid...and it's on a mutual basis. In other words, a clergy friend has become a FRIEND when you can feel free to call them on their day off, and vice verse.
Over the past year or so, my relationship with Mac has morphed in ways that I hadn't expected...at least from my point of view. I began by seeing him as my pastor and in a totally different league than me...and couldn't imagine viewing him as even close to an equal. But then I began seeing more of his human side, and he probably saw my human side...and that put him in a more realistic light. My increased sense of authority and awareness of the gifts that I bring to the table and to our relationship also helped things. And while I can't put my finger on when or how or why the change occurred, I've sensed a depth to our relationship in the past month or two that didn't exist before. It gives me confidence and hope that even after we "part ways" in June (meaning, going to our different churches), that our relationship will continue beyond just seeing each other at Annual Conference and being F*cebo*ok friends.
Anyway, all of that crystallized in one amazing moment this morning at the Golden Trees luncheon. We were sitting at different tables, but our paths crossed at one point and he asked if I had heard anything. I said no, but he would be one of the first people I called...unless I heard something tomorrow (Thursday is his day off). He told me that if I heard tomorrow, to call him, because he wants to celebrate with me. I reminded him that there's a possibility that the news might have me in tears...and then he said, "we can cry together."
So, Mac invited me to call him on his day off...which he protects vigilantly. He even wants me to call if I'm upset about the news I hear.
That speaks volumes to me. Sometimes, it's the little things that say the most.