The room was full of people, the candles glowed in most every hand. The place was baked in yellow candle light, it was relationally warm, it was psycho-cozy, and I only wanted to stay in that moment — the Christmas Eve service at the REFINERY Church, at the end of a good year, surrounded by people who love me — a long time.

Only the weekend before this, I had been in another similar space, a church in Pasadena, at my brother’s last service of his career, where the love was similarly palpable, a veritable stratosphere of appreciation and care for him as the pastor. I didn’t want that to end either, but it was the end, he was leaving and yet it was warm, and also cold, like the the days and  nights in the fall.

Life — it’s together, and then apart, and then together again, warm and then cold, and I like both. I better like both because this is reality and there is no other. We are close, those moments pass, we are alone again, and then we move back close.

Yesterday, when I came downstairs, I found my iPhone singing, and I was happy. It was my friend Tony, in Maine, Face-timing me.

Cool! And then it was warm.

I  answered, I wanted to connect with Maine, and I wanted to connect with Japan too, and Hawaii, New York, Florida, Colorado, Missouri, Illinois and everywhere else my transplanted people live, my migrating friends, my military family, those Navy and Army folks and nonmilitaries who became my family at church, then moved away.

So Tony and Melissa and I chatted up the Maine snow, the California sun, the family cats and our mental states while I could see via Facetime that one of their kids was running around — just out of his bath — naked.

Life, meaning, health, sanity, good, God — it’ s in the connectedness, in community, the movement from being alone and then being with people again.There is no good life outside of this movement. There is no mental health outside of relationships, the moments of togetherness, and the moments of recovery after being together — the musings and processings alone, and then the mixing, learning and loving together.

We live move and have our best being within the the communal dance, in and out, close then far and close again.

I love my people, my brother, my family, my church friends, and my extended military family too, my Tony’s and my Nate’s, my Jen’s, my Megan’s, my Melissa’s and all the others I know.

And there it is, the best life, a bondedness, a befriendedness, an emotionally naked and unashamed witness.

We need to be alone sometimes, but we are best, always and forever befamilied.

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