Thursday, January 13, 2011

Peachy Friends

As my life lessons continue, I realize that many of them are difficult to learn. Face it, at this age I’ve mastered the easy stuff. Now, in the second half of life, it’s the lessons I never anticipated and the ones I hoped might just go away, that are finally demanding my attention. It’s what this blog has been about: how to love life again after tremendous loss, how to enjoy independence, how to deal with adventure in a fashion that would do a hobbit proud, and how to recapture joy when you’ve had it snatched from under your feet. I suppose some people have to face down these issues when they’re younger. I get to negotiate them with menopausal hormones. Yippee! No self-pity here!
I think I’ve learned to do without a whole lot of stuff I thought (in my former life) was imperative for my happiness. But one thing the Lord has not deprived me of, one thing He knew would push me over the edge, the one thing that is promised and never messed with: You think I’m going to say Starbucks, don’t you? NOT!!! I’m talking about friendship!
I have never for one moment in the last three years felt like I was alone in this. I’ve heard widows complain that all their friends divorced them when calamity struck. Well not me! I believe I have chosen friends wisely… best friends, that is. I choose, not on the basis of what we have in common, but on the true-blueness of the heart. Consequently, many of my friends don’t know each other. There is no particular “circle” as such. I pick you from this circle and you from that circle. Each hand-selected with the utmost care, like peaches……sweet and juicy and perfectly timed. And fortunately, my peachy friends don’t rot.
I am not in constant contact with all my best friends. If you’re a best, that isn’t required. We can always pick up where we left off. Weeks, even years sometimes, hardly diminish the quality of the sharing, the confiding, the loving. I know who will be there in a heartbeat when I call for help. And I pray very sincerely that my best friends can count on me as well.
I had coffee today with a new peach. The fruit cup is expanding (and honestly, most of my friends are a little fruity)! God knows I could not get through this life without love, and that pours from God’s heart into mine in the form of family and friends. I got the family piece through the holidays, and now I’m basking in the pleasure of the non-related….I like you just because….“you shouldn’t wear that color“…“it’s your turn to pay”…..”I need to be alone”…“I need to talk to you”….”let’s pray“…,joys and tribulations of friendship.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Holidays 2010

I’m back in the air, on my way back to Alaska after almost three weeks of phenomenally good times with friends and family. I’m writing in Word because US Air is NOT offering free wifi like Delta did.
Remember how I wrote just before I left Anchorage that I was feeling more and more contemplative and “monkish” lately? I have felt the urge to withdraw, to rediscover a relationship with God that is purely personal, not influenced by what you think of Him, not dependent on happy circumstances or (maybe more importantly) sad circumstances. Just to meet Him naked, so to speak (although I might delete that before I publish this). Being alone with Him with no distractions has been such a luxury in Alaska.
You aren’t going to believe this, but my friend gave me a book for Christmas (and she shamefully admitted that she had not been reading my blog) that opened with, “This book… is the result of my long journey toward the knowledge that I am not a monk.” She said she hadn’t read the book and didn’t know the author, but felt compelled in a mysterious way to buy that for me. You will remember that I’ve been recently reading books by Henri Nouwen, the Dutch priest. Well guess who showed up in the acknowledgments of the new book?
I just love when this happens. When things converge toward a message. When the puzzle pieces seem to fit and a picture starts to emerge that looks somehow familiar and is easy to describe.
The title of the new book is The Active Life and the author is a guy named Palmer Parker (or is it Parker Palmer?) He must know me although, for the life of me, I can’t place where we met. He has definitely been reading my blog (and my mind). He talks about breaking the illusions the busy life creates, not by withdrawing, but by discovering more authentic ways to define the active life. The book is subtitled, A Spirituality of Work, Creativity and Caring.
I was extremely “active” through the holidays. I have missed my alone times to read, write and pray. But I was overwhelmed with the company of those I love. Leah, Ted, Thomas and I put over two thousand miles on my car playing Trivial Pursuit, listening to music, talking about you and just having fun together (we weren’t really talking about you, not most of you anyway). Greg’s family gathered in Chapel Hill. I think there were 17 of us, ranging in age from 80 something to two and a half. Barry even surprised us from Australia. Brent and Heidi got engaged. On my side of the family in Atlanta, Ellen and Seannon got married the week before Christmas. Jason and Nora joined us all for a belated Christmas dinner. You don’t know all these people but the point is, there was much celebration and festivity all around. We celebrated each other and shared joy.
So now the holidays are over and we’ve gone our separate ways once again. But we’ve promised to Skype and email more and plan the next reunions.
And I’m left feeling more like a people person again, continuing to pursue that sweet balance between solitude and busyness. I'm thinking, like Parker (or Palmer), that the key may be finding solitude within the busyness rather than retreating to The Island of The Blue Dolphins (see earlier post). Back to "the last frontier" now to continue with my life lessons.