“Would you like a Carmel Highrise?” Carol asks as she moves towards the counter the moment we walk through the door of our favorite coffee shop. Who ever asks first is saying, “I love you and want to buy you coffee this morning.” Carol is always thoughtful and extremely patient. The energy she brings with her is calming and tender – and my energy (I’ve been told) is encouraging and inspiring. Together, we balance each other out and strengthen one another.
One of my favorite things to do is to meet my dear friend for coffee. Usually, we don’t always plan ahead, but these special moments just appear on our doorstep of time – and we go for it.
Catching up on one another’s news can be inspiring, sobering, funny, or reflective as we talk about our life events, past, present and future. In my case, I find myself doing most of the talking as my dear friend Carol, patiently nods and smiles and periodically interjects her thoughts and comments.
Let’s face it. Some of us are more talkative than others and some of us enjoy listening. Others – just can’t get a word in edgewise! But a good relationship allows for growth in all areas.
Carol, and my other gentle, patient friends have taught me that by being aware of their conversation style I will reap rewards of deep conversations, rich with lessons and revelation … by simply pausing my thoughts once in awhile and being comfortable for a brief moment with the silence.
My listening friends are slower to speak because they are listening deeply and processing their thoughts differently than I do. Understanding this helps me to be comfortable in pauses as they ‘rev-up’ their conversation engine. (and it’s always well worth the pause!)
Subtle body movements provide an entire conversation between us other than the words that we speak. Noticing my friend’s body language helps me to be aware of ‘winding down’ my conversation as she darts a glance at her watch or wall clock. Her leaning forward to give me her whole focus tells me that she is very interested in what I’m saying. When she sits back, she’s made a summary or conclusion of what has just been said.
When she or I are discouraged and feeling as though we’re being suffocated with our trials, our conversations shed light on options that will continue to move us forward. Conversations between good friends always present other points of view and help expose opportunities that we’d never have seen on our own. And observing one another and how we approach our life challenges also teaches us – what to do and what NOT to do.
Our morning coffee breaks are more than coffee. They are rituals as ancient as human kind, and so much nicer than beating our clothing on the rocks at the water’s edge while sharing news with the other women in the village. (I’ll take a Carmel Highrise any day!)
Our love for one another carries us through the hard times and the good times. Smelling the wonderful aroma and sipping coffee together represents an offering of time, conversation, a listening ear and lessons in communication – both verbal and non-verbal.
We balance each other out in unusual ways. Watching Carol set gentle but firm boundaries with people that pass through her life, teaches me another way of setting boundaries other than what I would normally do. Learning to listen and ask clarifying questions as we ensure that we are on the same “page,” has taught both of us how to communicate with someone of an opposite personality.
Our history is long. So many things have occurred in our lives with so many lessons. Each of us has experienced the death of a loved one and watched the other struggle with the issues that caregiving presents. Our time together is a celebration of life … and a tender tear for people and things that pass.
Oh, it’s more than coffee – so much more.
Shannon Parish is the Founder of Sarah’s Tent and President of Living Stones Center. She is an award winning cartoonist and graphic recorder who, after more than thirty years of ministry and as a Life Coach utilizes her artistic talent to teach and Illustrate You.