Opposites Attract

December 7, 2009

I met my sister-in-law, Ashley, when I was 15 years old and a junior in high school.  The first day I met her I remember driving in my older brother’s car with her wearing old sweats  to a park and just talking.  Little did I know then that she would end up marrying my brother and later become one of my best friends.  She is the one person that besides my husband I talk to pretty much every day. Our conversations are always sacramental moments for me. 
This morning, she and I talked about two topics very dear to each of us right now in our lives that could not be any more different.  For her, the topic was breeding one of my beautiful red-headed “niece-pups”, Roux.  Ashley is a St. Francis that lives among us when it comes to animals.  Her dogs, Roux and Tasso, are not just dogs to her, but members of her family.  They travel everywhere with her, and she travels everywhere with them to enter them in hunt tests, field trials, and dog shows.  For years, Ashley has dreamed of breeding Roux, and this week, her dream is in the process of being a reality.  I do not know the first thing about breeding, nor do I share the strong passion she has for dogs( mine is more a like or love); however, we have talked about every detail of this process because it is important to her and therefore, it is important to me.  I share in her joy this week!
 Brady at 7 months and Roux
For me, the topic was figuring out which ministry opportunities I should say “yes” to.  As always, she listened, encouraged, and challenged me.  She talked through every one of them with me, and she helped me discern which ones best fit with my gifts, my family, and others.  Ashley will tell you she does not know the first thing about ministry in the Catholic Church, nor does she share the strong passion I have for it; however, we have talked about every detail of it because it is important to me and therefore, it is important to her.  She shares in my joy this week also as I make decisions about it.   
What was important to us this morning could not be any more different:  dog breeding and ministry in the Catholic Church.  The beauty of our friendship though is there is room and space for both of these topics along with the 20 million other things we discuss no matter how superficial or serious.
Ashley’s friendship gives me space to be myself.  She respects who I am- both our similarities and our differences.  She gives me the non-judgemental space to question and dialogue about who I am, who’s I am, and what I am called to do. I know that I try to offer her the same thing– a space to be herself, her true authentic self, a space to dialogue and question, and a space to dream.
Like Ashely does for me, God offers this kind of friendship to us. A friendship that provides space to question and dialogue about all the things that are important to us whether serious or superficial. 
Are we taking God up on that friendship?
What people in our lives provide sacramental friendships for us that reveal to us God’s love?  (Once you figure it out, go thank them!!!!)

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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