When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
~Henri J.M. Nouwen, Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life
Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words.
I had lunch with an old friend today. Our life paths diverged around the time I got married, and it’s probably been at least fifteen years since we’ve actually seen each other, maybe even closer to twenty, though we’ve emailed and Facebooked in recent years.
But Liz is one of those friends you can go years without seeing and pick up right where you left off. We hugged each other hard and expressed our amazement that it had been so long since we’d laid eyes on each other. The love and respect we’d always had for each other was right where we’d left it—no awkwardness, no small talk. There were catch-up questions, of course—inquiring after our respective mothers, etc.—but there was also “What are you doing to feed your creative spirit?”
How had I managed for so long without her?
Being with Liz today, seeing myself in her eyes, I touched back into a part of myself that I’d left behind on my journey these last couple of decades. It was balm for my soul, a homecoming of the heart. What a gift.
You are at my side, dear friends, and God is everywhere. Yet ultimately we are alone, making our way home by the candle of the heart. The light is steady and sure but extends only far enough to see the next step. That there are steps beyond is a matter of faith. That we have the faith to endure and walk our own journey—even when we think that we are lost—is a gift of grace, and of friendship. Many times our light seems to go out. But another light, one held by a stranger or a friend, a book or a song, a blackbird or a wildflower, comes close enough so that we can see our path by its light. And in time, we realize that the light we have borrowed was always our own.
~Joan Borysenko, A Woman’s Journey to God
A prayer for being brave and open on the journey of life…
Drum sounds rise on the air,
and with them, my heart.
A voice inside the beat says,
I know you are tired,
This is the way.
May you listen to the voice within the beat even when you are tired. When you feel yourself breaking down, may you break open instead. May every experience in life be a door that opens your heart, expands your understanding, and leads you to freedom. If you are weary, may you be aroused by passion and purpose. If you are blameful and bitter, may you be sweetened by hope and humor. If you are frightened, may you be emboldened by a big consciousness far wiser than your fear. If you are lonely, may you find love, may you find friendship. If you are lost, may you understand that we are all lost, and still we are guided—by strange angels and sleeping giants, by our better and kinder natures, by the vibrant voice within the beat. May you follow that voice, for This is the way—the hero’s journey, the life worth living, the reason we are here.
~Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow
It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools—friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty—and said ‘do the best you can with these, they will have to do’. And mostly, against all odds, they do.
~Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
Tomorrow I head a couple of hours east to spend Thanksgiving with my family. We will eat too much, and though there have been sad and somber transitions in our family in the past year, we are sure to laugh a lot, and we will be glad to have this time with each other.
It has been an emotional year for me, with lots of changes, lots of soul-searching, lots of digging deep to find faith in the face of scary stuff, and then going back to dig even deeper when more was needed. Yet in the midst of all this, there has been a sweetness, a warmth. I have made new friendships and renewed and deepened old ones, and I have extended my roots into and felt myself surrounded and nurtured by my community, both “real” and virtual. I have felt embraced, even in my most difficult moments, knowing on some level that I am somehow being held by this web of people near and far.
Thank you, dear readers, for being a part of my web. You have honored me by choosing to “follow” me as I make my way, sometimes haltingly, through this maze that is my life. I am glad for your companionship, and I am grateful for your time and attention, your insights and your encouragement. I look forward to sharing the next part of the journey with you. Namaste.