Last fall I picked up a thin little book titled The Friendship of Women: The Hidden Tradition of the Bible. I admit that I rarely pass up a book that includes women in its title, but this one also had the word friendship. Lately, I have been fascinated, if not obsessed, with this idea of women’s friendships and sisterhood. So of course, I bought the book. Plus its author, Joan Chittister, is someone I have read before and admired.

Last week I was in an airport and then on an airplane, and I had that gift that travel often gives–time alone to read. I finally had the chance to read The Friendship of Women. It is only 89 pages and not heavy reading, but Chittister’s words gave me much to think about, much to ponder, and much to share. Three of her quotes that have settled into my heart are these:

“Friendship extends us into places we have not gone before and cannot go alone.” (xiv)

“Real friends are the ones who take us into their lives with the ease of family and the warmth of love…. They offer what women say they look for most in a relationship: encouragement, support, and  a sense that they themselves are worthwhile human beings. Real friends are simply there for us, no matter the pressure, no matter the pain. They are home for us when no other home is open.” (52-53)

“Acceptance is the universal currency of real friendship. It allows the other to be the other. It puts no barriers where life should be. It does not warp or shape or wrench a person to be anything other than what they are. It simply opens its arms to hold the weary and opens it heart to hear the broken and opens it mind to see the invisible. Then, in the shelter of acceptance a person can be free to be even something more.” (55)

Rarely do I have “holy moments” while sitting on an airplane, but last Wednesday, I did. I began to think of those friends who are “home” for me, and I marveled at the ways in which God had provided me with women who have opened their arms, opened their hearts, opened their minds, and welcomed me into their lives. As I flew over God’s good earth, I began thanking God for friends, the ones who nudge me toward better paths, new adventures, and deeper connections. I hope in your journey that you too have found “real friends,” sisters who share life with you! They are a sacred gift from God!

Pam Durso is executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, Atlanta, Georgia.