How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

On one hand I ever had a friend who hasn’t changed or my perspective?

Jef, with his eyes on justice in all things.  Afsaneh and her perpetual enthusiasm.  Greg and his insights from Israel.  Farah and her deepening confidence.  Shannon, living her dream in China.  Judy and (other) Greg’s loving encouragement.  Eileen’s artsy, hilarious take on the world around us.  Allissa and her entrepreneurial determination.  Matt’s two answers to all problems (good tea and high-fives).

But I’m going to dedicate this to Joy.

Joy and I began as friends of circumstance, having moved onto the same hall of the same building at the same time in 2002.  But while I don’t really keep up with most of my friends from that time, Joy is still essential to me.  She changes my perspective on life every day.

Sure, we’re different.  My heart’s in Malawi and hers is in Palestine.  We’re different religions (unless you count “don’t be mean” as a single religion; maybe it should be), live in different states, and focus our efforts on different topics.  But we love to write, we love to serve, and we love to use our ridiculous brains to imagine how to make things better.

Joy changes me because every time we speak, my perspective shifts from “I’m crazy and alone and none of this is possible,” to “I’m crazy but the world needs crazy to get us out of the insanity we’re in, and I know we can do this thing because Joy knows all my cracked-out ideas and still believes in me.”

Sudden as an email, gradual as an eight-year friendship.  Call it what you like.

Love you, Joy.  Thanks for changing me.