When children, we overnighted for many nights at camp, retreats, and out-of-town service projects. We were far from our home. We were amongst our most cherished. We were amongst our family. And we were amongst mostly strangers. All the same, we were privy to a kind of greeting, meeting, and adopting friends into our hearts. We loved the part when the stranger was no longer guest, and became beloved instead. We were, in looking at our Father, Mother, Grandmothers, Cousins, & the those before, continuing our family way– to believe the best about the people we met and to learn from them in whichever way we were able to learn. I didn’t realize how I’ve missed those days of camp & retreat & workshop that allow for the most open-hearted sharing and conversation. To be dropped down in the center of someone’s life for a short time, and to get to the most important details first. Those times of my younger days carry a sense of magic and awe as I recall them now.
Last week I was gifted with a time that resembled what I fondly remember from enlightening friendships that were rapidly developed in those younger years. We were all away from home. We were willing take chances, to talk, and bear our souls in the unique box of time that was afforded for us to be in the same remarkable place at the same inimitable time.
I don’t subscribe to the idea that wealth status, social hierarchy, history, age (or anything) can/should separate people from connecting, learning from one another, and forming lifelong friendships. And so I have had a sense of wonder over the past week as I recall a handful of days that I spent in the presence of folks that I will always hold in the most shimmering of light. Privileged to encounter so many exuberant, gifted, resilient, passionate, genuine souls, I continue to reflect upon the lessons I have learned from so many by sharing a few days of conversations, suppers and celebrations.
We gathered together to celebrate a wedding, and on the last of the evenings spent in such merriment, I could not sway my pensive state. My heart so full of joy, I could not dance. My mind so full of thought, I could not sleep. Even now, as I recall the lessons I received from these teachers, I am ever mindful of the impression left upon my heart and mind, and within swirls a peaceable frenzy that is best summarized by these words from Mary Oliver’s “Thinking of the Swirler”:
In my house there are a hundred half-done poems.
Each of us leaves an unfinished life.