Corner hunting

“We have probably wondered in our many lonesome moments if there is one corner in this competitive, demanding world where it is safe to be relaxed, to expose ourselves to someone else, and to give unconditionally.  It might be very small and hidden.  But if this corner exists, it calls for a search through the complexities of our human relationships in order to find it.”      Intimacy, p 23

Mindy Caliguire writes in her helpful study guide Spiritual Friendship that there are three potential roadblocks to finding soul friendships. 1- Not being able to find a place where one can truly be vulnerable. 2- Not being a safe-person or not finding a safe person to forge a soul-friendship (spiritual friendship) with. and 3- Not knowing what to look for in the way soul friends are meant to relate.

Finding some CORNER in dirty stair-well.

My senior year of engineering school was a radical experience in living arrangement. As a freshman, I’d gotten closed out of on-campus housing due to a spike in enrollment. I took my chances off-campus and found myself as a housemate living in an upstairs apartment with two other guys. At the time I moved in, I could never have predicted that my friendship with one of those guys would take the path it did. Paul was a wonderful roommate. An engineering student like myself. Had a great sense of humor and we shared a few common interests – cars, things mechanical and guitars. We didn’t share Christ at very deep level. Paul was probably a believer at that point, but not walking very closely with Jesus. As it would go, we were housemates for the first half of our undergrad days. God worked in Paul during those two years and he became a very vibrant disciple.

We got separated a bit during our third and fourth years in school, but we had the chance to be roommates in a dorm our final senior year (as they say we crammed a four year program into five – both of us). Two fifth-year seniors actually decided to live in a dorm together for our last year of undergraduate engineering school glory. And this is where the dirty stair well comes into the story. Paul and I would often look up from our homework set and declare simply “STAIRWELL.” That meant we were taking a 20 minute break. We’d make our way out to the hallway, through the door into a very bad smelling stair well. Descending two flights to the basement where the stairwell terminated. It was a truly gross acreage! Dust. Pop cans. Beer cans. More dust. Perhaps a rodent.

It was my first experience of Spiritual Friendship. Though it was always a mess, there was an element of hospitality in it. There was never anyone else down there. Paul and I would sit on the last few stairs, talk for a few minutes about the day, our annoying roommates and anyone else who dare came across our radar screen. Sometimes we’d read a short scripture. We’d always pray. Pray for each other. Pray for our roommates to come to Christ. Pray for the IVCF chapters we were involved with. And women. We would pray about the females in our orbit and for God to help us keep our heads screwed on straight.

We’d burn 20 minutes or more. The praying was sometimes halting. Sometimes just listening to where God might take our spiritual attention. Then it was back up the stairs, one room down the hallway through the door to Townsend 2 South and back into our little quad where our two annoying roommates awaited us. It restored something in our souls to honor this informal ritual. The stairwell, though nasty and smelly was our beautiful little corner where a great friendship became a spiritual friendship several times a week, twenty minutes at a time.

Do you have a Christian friend like Paul was (and still is) to me? Have you ventured into that kind of space and place where you can in the words of Henri Nouwen find ONE CORNER where friendship meets soul-care? What would it take for one of your Christian friends to join you on the journey of making your relationship a Spiritual Friendship? Other posts at will consider how to identify who such a friend might possibly be. We’ll consider what it takes on OUR part to be such a person for another. And we’ll explore just what forms of soul-care are needed for fruitful spiritual friendship to emerge. Thanks for your patience as we’re under construction with the site for a few months.

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