The 1971 song lyrics tell us, “You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am, I’ll come running to see you again. Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call–and I’ll be there. You’ve got a friend.” Funny, but before Carole King even wrote the words and music for “You’ve Got a Friend,” a group of women enrolled at Houghton College. Some of us roomed together, sang and worshiped together; some found husbands there. But we all knew each other because Houghton only had about 1000 students in the 60s. When we graduated, we scattered in various directions…to Campus Crusade, to marriage and raising families, to supporting husbands in the Vietnam war and in graduate school, to classrooms as new teachers.
We gather each year for a long weekend of sharing photos and stories of the past year, for spirited discussions of women struggling in third world situations, or health care reforms, and even for swapping beauty secrets. Laughter rings through the house as 12-15 of us tell stories until after midnight. We have amazing memories for some of the pranks and embarrassing moments we survived over four decades ago!
Some years we take in a play, see something historical, or go for a swim at a community pool. And we always take the opportunity to eat at a local restaurant for some of our evening meals. We usually meet in someone’s home, but we’ve rented at a bed and breakfast once and once spent our four-day stay in a cabin at Letchworth State Park in upstate New York. The last week of June calls us in from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, California, North and South Carolina, Florida, Virginia and Texas. Whether by car, plane or train, we arrive on Thursday and depart after we worship together on Sunday. When we met in Buffalo, New York in 2002, we chose to call ourselves the Houghton Divas. That stands for Divinely Inspired Vivacious Affectionate Sisterhood.
What binds us so deeply? I believe it’s the faith we share in Jesus Christ. Each year everyone refers to our corporate prayer times and our praise and worship as the true highlight of the weekend.This year we each shared the verse or verses that had provided the most help during this last year. In addition, we talked about one person who had provided a spiritual thread in our faith over the years. Some even had photos of the parents or grandparents who had so impacted us for Christ.
The Bible says that “a friend loves at all times.” Along with these women, I have seen the love of Christ in action through friends who still laugh like teenagers but who can also pray like sage saints. “I thank my God at every remembrance of you,” Paul wrote to the believers at Philippi. I can only echo that sentiment for the blessings of this group.