Monday, January 07, 2008

The Ebb and Flow of Relationships

Most mornings I've been starting my day just sitting quietly for a few minutes with this prayer from the book, Celtic Daily Prayer. Recently my eye has been drawn to the essay above it by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, from her book Gift from the Sea. I've been thinking a lot about these lines:

We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanence, on duration, on continuity;

especially as they relate to relationships. I tend to want my relationships today to be what they were yesterday. In a way, I'm like a child on the beach, inconsolable when the tide comes in and washes away my sand castle. So this idea that relationships ebb and flow is actually freeing for me. While every relationship warrants effort on my part, I need to respect the nature of relationships in and of themselves. They will come and they will go. And, I am learning, they will come again. That may mean a renewed relationship with a friend that had gone sour or where the two of you have drifted. Or it may mean new relationships. Or possibly, tried and true relationships will take on a new dimension, going to a deeper level.

I'm fortunate to have a sister who is also my dearest friend. And yet over the years, our relationship has experienced this sense of ebb and flow, due mostly to the changing seasons of our lives. While time and proximity are not the only criteria for relationships, both factors have certainly contributed. I think this year we've walked through some deep learning experiences together (mostly via phone and email). She's made some space in her life to tend to her needs as a woman, which as a caring big sister gives me great joy, but as a friend, gives me even greater joy as we've connected in some truly life-giving ways.

The essay by Lindbergh concludes:

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now.

As adults, we realize the ebbing tide will return again and are content to look forward to another day of sandcastle building. Are we willing to acknowledge this ebb and flow in our relationships?


Bev said...

Comments! You're open to comments! Not only do I love Anne Morrow Lindburg's book, I love this post reminding us of the ever-flowing nature of all relationships. There's peace and grace in it, knowing it's not supposed to stay the same over the years. Really, nothing else in life does, yet as women we tend to think our friendships will. xoxo

Laure said...

Dianne, this was so eloquently written. I too enjoy Anne Morrow Lindburg. And the subject of relationships is especially important to me. All that we have is the day we are given and to live this day with open hands . . . particularly in our relationships . . . is to live with a great freedom and a great joy! I enjoyed visiting here.

Please visit anytime!

A Chelsea Morning said...

I had no idea you'd opened comments again, Dianne. Yay!

Now you know why I've made no secret of the fact that Gift From the Sea is my all time ever favorite book and I read it at least twice a year.

There's wisdom in every single word of this book. And the older I get the clearer it becomes that she is absolutely dead on about the ebb and flow of all our relationships.

Tami Boesiger said...

I recognize this in my marriage, but don't always make room for it in my friendships. Thanks for reminding me, Dianne.

Dianne said...

Hm, you make a good point Tami . . . I hadn't really thought of this as relating to marriage.

gail@more than a song said...

I've not ever read this book but have heard so much about it. It does seem so true, that ebb and flow in of the comments mentioned marriage and we heard a statement in a movie once that stuck with us that was similar; love comes in waves. I tend to like my friends and relationships to be the same as yesterday too and yet life is always changing.
How neat that your sister blogs! I didn't know that. I hope you get to see each other often!

Katrina said...

Great post, Dianne. I'm one of those who tends to "insist on...continuity." I don't like change, and I certainly don't like when it's imposed on me! :) But I like this approach, thinking of it as ebb AND flow. Not just change in one direction. Thanks for these thoughts.