Dinner With The Magician


A_HollyShe called just a day before she would be rolling through town, hope dripping round the corners of her question. Was there a chance I might be available for a visit when she passed through? It would be a quick stay, just overnight, but wouldn’t it be lovely? Gratefully, our days are wide open as of late and I had just washed the sheets and whose heart doesn’t smile all Cheshire-like when old friends come calling?

I hope she heard the joy in my response because, although I was excited about our reunion, it had been quite a number of years since last our eyes had met or our arms had encircled. Childhood friendships can run deep as the ocean but years apart can also seem to magnify the wide expanse of those sacred waters and such a gulf has the potential to swallow you right whole.

She arrived with a bottle of wine under one arm, a loaf of crusty bread under the other and a laugh so strong as to unshackle fear in any heart. Oh, how I remembered that laugh! How it was both winsome and inviting, how its genuineness removed all self-effacement. Smiling, I took her offerings of bread and wine and placed them on the table and I felt something let loose within me.

We set to the task of preparing dinner, each of us stationed across from one another. She sliced cantaloupe, I cut vegetables and, together, we began the slow dance of catching up on lives lived apart from each other for years. At first, we revisited what was familiar. We recalled favorite memories, we reenacted infamous moments. All that we held in common became burnished to glowing by our careful curating of memory.

But as the night continued and the sky wicked from blue to purple to indigo, the stories took different turns. We moved to the porch and we lit votives and we pressed our glasses to our lips between breaths.

This old friend of mine, we’ve known each other forever. Our mothers grew round and full with the both of us the same year. We were delivered less than a week apart.
But we have lived lives apart for so long. There were so many details of her unfolding that have remained a mystery, so I sat and I leaned in and I listened long in order to hear how her story continued without me in it.

And this was when the magic happened.

For you see, my friend? She is an artist. She takes pen and ink and spins symmetry. She swirls color on canvas and calls forth life from darkness and it is beautiful. She gathers children into her fold and she weaves story and meaning from the drippings and the dross and she teaches these same little ones how to do the same. She enchants and blesses and rings glory where there has been shame and the world is more beautiful because she dwells in it.

As she shared her life with me I felt new places break open in me. As I heard stories of her travels and gazed at pictures of her portfolio I began to understand how art can’t help but spring forth from her center. And I saw more clearly what had been loosened in me upon hearing that laugh of hers and what continued to unravel as the night progressed.

My friend’s life—her art—was one grand story. Yes, there were twists and turns and knots and bends, for sure. But all along, she was looking for the truth and the beauty among the darkness and the light.

This art making of hers was and is genuine and it asks the same of every one who experiences it—that you respond authentically, in kind.

Because aren’t we all artists? When we open ourselves to the world and welcome all the beautiful and terrible things and we do not let it destroy us? That is when the magic happens.

That is when we, too, can spin symmetry and swirl color and weave story and make the world more glorious because we dwell in it.


Image credit: Steve Snodgrass

Holly Grantham
Holly is a wife, very relaxed homeschooling mom of three boys, snapper of photos, coming of age writer and a soul drowning in grace. After years in Atlanta where she attended college, married the love of her life and lived in an intentional community, she found her way back to her home state of Missouri. She now lives in an antebellum stone house, raises chickens (sometimes) and pretends that she lives in the country.
Holly Grantham

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  1. Jacoba Jane says:

    Words are your paintbrush and a blank notepad is your canvas. For you too are an artist. I loved this!

  2. The Wright Place says:

    You had me leaning in from beginning to end. Thank you for your rich words and for inviting me onto the porch and into your visit.

  3. Wildy Self says:

    WOWWWWa! I have now been blessed! Thank you Holly, dear friend.

  4. Claire De Boer cjdeboer says:

    What a beautiful portrait of a friendship and your relationship with this special person, Holly – thank you for sharing it with us. xo

  5. pastordt says:

    Amen, amen. Thank you for spinning magic with every word you weave, dear Holly. So glad you had this time with your friend.

  6. Julie Cochrane says:

    This is so lovely Holly – I wished I was sitting on that porch eavesdropping! I’m sure your friendship has added lots of unique colour and texture to your friend’s outpouring of artworks. What a wonderful friendship! And what a beautiful tribute to it.

    • Thank you, Julie. And you know what they say about old friends…being made of gold. I am soooo rich!

  7. Lisha Epperson says:

    I love how you shared the magic of this friendship Holly. No doubt she leaves your presence feeling super human and loved up. Relationships like this, are wells of endless inspiration. You make each other better.

    • Ah, yes, Lisha…super human and loved up! Perfect description. I’m sure you are such a friend to many, my dear.

  8. free spirit crystal says:

    Wow, Holly, you are as much an artist as your friend, so that would indeed make you kindred spirits. What a piece of art from start to finish your story is. I was completely mesmerized by the language and envisioning the entire scene, from the exterior to the interior moments. Shot straight into my spirit, an arrow of inspiration and encouragement. Thank you immensely for blessing us with this today.

  9. *sigh* a big hearty yes from me Holly. You’ve spun your magic in a tale full of beauty once again. Hugs.

    • Shelly,
      Thank you so much for reading and being here in the midst of the craziness that is your life right now. I am so thankful for OUR friendship and I pray that you will be able to close out your last days here with joy and thanksgiving. You have been such an encouragement and I trust that your big move won’t change any of that. So much love for you.

  10. I love that quote by Frederick Buechner.
    Your writing was like a deep breath to me this tired morning. What I loved most about this piece was how your friend ministered to you. Just what you needed, I am sure. Love to you. xo

    • Michaela,
      It is always so glorious when those whom we have loved for so long envelop us with new eyes and ears and help us to flesh out the truth and beauty that we haven’t been able to see ourselves. Although our friendship is still new I pray that you and I will grow into a deep and abiding friendship that will breathe life into all of our tired places.

  11. Carolynne Melnyk says:

    How beautiful! What a great way to start the week! My heart smiles as in the past 6 months I have reconnected with many friends I have not seen for many many years. What a gift! What we shared ‘was looking for the truth and the beauty among the darkness and the light’. Thank you!

    • It IS such a gift, Carolynne, the reconnecting with old friends. I often find that I spend too much time trying to decide who I want to be today when, in all actuality, I just want to be a fuller version of who I’ve been all along. My friends from long ago help me to remember that. Blessings on your renewed friendships. May they continue to enrich and embellish your life.

  12. Anne-Marie says:

    ‘She enchants and blesses and rings glory where there has been shame and the world is more beautiful because she dwells in it.’ I think that may just be my prayer for the month. To ‘ring glory’. Lovely, Holly. Thank you! So glad you have this kind of deep together after so many years.

    • Ooohh yes, Anne-Marie, let’s all pray this for ourselves. And let us be thankful for those in our life who sing songs over us as we grow into who we want to be.

  13. Megan Gahan says:

    Oh, those friendships that can pick up where they were left off, even after many miles and many years. They are their own kind of sacred aren’t they? Thank you for inviting us so beautifully into your intimate encounter together, and for weaving your own brilliant magic in these words. And for giving me a huge craving for crusty bread! Much love friend.

    • They are indeed sacred, Megan. Those types of friendships, I do believe, help us to be authentic in ways that we are, otherwise, scared to be.
      And about that crusty bread….

  14. Helen Burns HBurns says:

    Holly, this writing is such beautiful art. It drew me in from the first word and I think I read every word with a smile on my face. I so love and value friendships in my world too, and moments like these shared with treasured friends are pure gold. Thank you for this gift today.
    Much love…xoxo

    • Pure gold is right, Helen. I can’t help but think of this quote:

      “A friend accepts us as we are yet helps us to be what we should.” ~Author Unknown

      We can just be with those who hold us dear but then, slowly, we always seem to come around to where we want to go. That is the gift of friendship, truly.

  15. nernie says:

    I love hearing you talk about your dear childhood friend it was interesting to hear your side and have my own memories of her as well. I’m glad we got together as well it was a good week of love wasn’t it? Everyone needs love. I love you Holly, my dear little sister

    • Oh my dear, dear sister,
      How your love carries me. Thank you for sharing your beautiful self with me and helping me to feel more alive–always.

  16. Kim Waggoner says:

    I love the way you spin words. Beautiful.

  17. Holly, calling myself an artist has always been difficult for me. I put so many restrictions on what it is. But this, this “open ourselves to the world and welcome all the beautiful and terrible things and we do not let it destroy us”, YES, this is art and maybe, just maybe I am an artist. Thank you for this inspired insight.

    • Oh Debby, yes, we are ALL artists, infused with the originality of the ultimate Creator and imparted with the task to go and live and be. I claim the title of artist for you and implore you to seek beauty and truth today.

  18. Holly this was beautiful! I will be moving back this fall to the states very near to where I grew up. I haven’t lived there in 8 years now. I identified a lot with the emotions and nerves you wrote about in reconnecting with a childhood friends. I’m definitely anxious about that, and I hope that it goes well…

    • Oh I pray that the Holy Spirit will go before you, weaving its own kind of magic and beauty as it prepares the way for you to inhabit this space again. May you gain a new and expanded perspective on those that you left behind and may you grow richer for having known them. Thank you so much for being here.

  19. Grace Vega says:

    This touched and encourages me this morning — especially the very last sentence. Thanks, Holly!

    • Grace,
      I pray that you will find new and beautiful places to spin and weave and create today. Blessings on you, friend.

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