I try to keep my toenails pretty because I dance barefoot. Sometimes, I’ll wear colored nail polish because — well, why not? And I usually choose the color, at least in part, by the name. A couple of weeks ago, I got a pedicure and I was trying to decide between two shades of purplish-brown. One brand called their color something dull like, “Purplish-Brown.” OPI-brand, on the other hand, called their version: “That’s What Friends are Thor.” It was an easy choice; of course I went with the pun.
I don’t have the foggiest idea why such a hue was named for Friendship and the Viking Thunder God. It’s kind of nonsensical, actually, but still I dig it. And I thought it would make a good sermon title…
Maybe a talk about bad-ass friendship. Or about being godlike as we befriend ourselves. Or about the sometimes fierce and thunderous nature of any relationship, including friendships. Perhaps all of these.
There’s something in this phrase that makes me think about navigating the boundaries of our own identity as we relate to everyone and everything else, the rest of it, the whole world. Something about how we get to know ourselves in and through our meetings and connections with each other not just by approaching others as a mirror — though we can definitely look at things that way — but also recognizing others as others, real beings distinct and contrasting from ourselves.
Often, we like to think of Divine Truth as a Singularity, an Ultimate One in which all differentiation dissolves into perfect unity. Reunited and it feels so good, right? So we say things like, “You and I are One in the Heart of the Infinite,” which is a lovely thing to say. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not the only way to conceive of our sacred connection.
We might also say, “You and I are uniquely magnificent individuals, and I love and respect you not just for the ways that I see myself in you and you in me, but expressly for all our differences.”
For sure, there’s empowerment in claiming God as Self — I am a point of conscious self-awareness in the Infinite Everything. We can also claim communion with each other in that — we’re ALL a part of this Infinite Everything.
AND there’s also something beautiful and devotional about honoring God explicitly as Other, as that which we ourselves are not — you are divine in all the ways you challenge and vex and confuse and confound me, in all the ways you defy my understanding, in all the ways I have to reach and stretch to relate to you and to love you.
The Sufi poets sometimes referred to God as “the Friend.” I find this most sweet and inviting. Yes, God is the Infinite Allness of It All. Yes, God is our innermost true self. And yes, God is also the OTHER.
Where my soul — my body, my heart, my experience, my mind — meets your soul, there’s thunder and lightning, there’s electricity and magic. There’s friendship.
That’s what friends are Thor. I can’t wait to see you this Sunday, November 24. Service at 10 am. XO, Drew
© 2019 Drew Groves