Monday, September 27, 2010

If only I could throw away the urge to trace my patterns in your heart, I could really see you. -David Brandon (Zen in the Art of Helping)

Friends..... A Patchwork
I had dinner tonight with one of my dear friends.  To see us together, you’d never guess we had a thing in common, let alone such a deep respect and love for one another.  She is a jeans and tee shirt earth mother,  phenomenal gardener, makes the best darn salsa east of Texas, prefers Yoga to action sports, has never set foot on a tennis court, watched a golf match, or been to an Art gallery. She is not into travel, although she vicariously lives through mine and makes me want to become a more descriptive travel writer, just for her!  Fashion is not her thing.  When her daughter married a few years ago she vehemently let everyone know she would not be wearing a dress. Live theatre and the ballet almost induced a permanent comatose state. We’ve tried this a few times, a girls night out and still joke, today, about the pain and suffering endured for those few hours of her life that she’ll never get back!  Her venue for appreciation of the Arts, is her beautiful landscaping in her own backyard. A summer evening, well spent in her mind, would be on the back of her hubbie’s Harley, racing off into the sunset with him. For me, attending a Harley convention would be like entering prison for a weekend. Scary!   Frankly, I wouldn’t know a Harley from a scooter. And, she wouldn't know a Jimmy Choo from Manolo Blahnik.  Nor, would I enjoy breeding dogs, canning food, or putting manure anywhere. I have a passion for the Arts, love fashion, travel, socializing, adventure and new endeavors, as often as I can indulge.   What we do share, is a love of our God,  the methods we use to process feelings, the spiritual path, Eastern practices, dancing for fun or to be silly, or to show our joy.  And, we both are crazy in love with our grandchildren.   Despite her life’s “simple pleasures” attitude, I think she has a secret wild side.  We are both “Sex in the City” groupies.  We’ve been known to enjoy marathon sessions watching old episodes, from my beloved complete boxed set. Most of all, she has one of the kindest hearts and gentlest spirits of anyone I know, or, have ever met.  I love her, and the times we can get together.  Her simple vision has the capacity to lasso me in, hog tie me gently, and allow my racing mind to slow down enough, to leave some space for reason to settle in. She pulls out a real mirror when she finds me using the distorted one from the funhouse.    
My best friend, is several decades older than I.  Sometimes, I view her as a second mom, but mostly she is my closest friend and confidante; the one person who knows all of my secrets, the shameful ones as well as my hopes and dreams. I trust her explicitly and she always tells me the truth.   We do share the same love of the Arts and she is the one I call to attend an Art exhibit, Phantom of the Opera, or a concert.  We navigated widowhood together.  Being a widow is unique with a whole new set of issues that the divorced, or single, just don’t understand.  Foremost, being a widow, is not a choice. The death of a spouse plants a whole bunch of other obstacles along the path, besides grieving.  We held hands and cheered each other on, as we crawled over the hurdles and celebrated when we spied them in the rear-view mirror, traveling forward into new beginnings. She is a like-minded adventurer, and we have done a bit of traveling and exploring together.  That has changed some over the years, with her own aging process and the entrance of a sweet and wonderful, new man, in her life. One of her new beginnings.  We also share in our love of God and the spiritual path, although her manner of navigating life is profoundly different.  I have to keep wrestling the alligator to try to gain control, understand it, or change it. After it rips me up a bit, I shout, “uncle.”  She doesn’t enjoy a wrestling match and simply doesn’t care why it is, what it is.  She lets the alligator be an alligator, turns it over to God to deal with, and gets on with the business of living.  That’s probably one of the qualities that attracted me to her light many years ago. 
I have another very special friend, who is “a profile in courage”.  We were professional acquaintances; worked together for many years. The friendship moved out of the board room, into each others kitchens, families and lives.  Outside of her career, she has also played the part of housewife, mother, grandmother, gardener, crafter, traveler, adventurer and caretaker. All quite beautifully.  She is truly one of those women who does it all, and still finds time to sweep the world up into her loving arms, She makes you feel special and important.   Genuinely.  No agendas. She is more generous with the time she gives to humanity, than anyone I know.  I think she does this so freely, because she has walked through many dense forests in her life. She’s learned it’s so much easier to find your way out of them, when you are holding someone else’s hand.  She is the best at hand-holding, hugging, championing, and listening. Throughout her very full life, she has experienced the loss of a stillborn baby girl, battled breast cancer, suffered through the sudden illness and death of her ten-year old grandson, and the subsequent trauma of her own daughter’s immense grief; every mother’s worst nightmare.  Very shortly after, she lost her soulmate, the man who was the central part of her life.  They met in grade school and had been married for many, many years.  She knows sorrow and she believes the best way through it is to help someone else. She has learned empathy through her own suffering, and has taught me, it’s often those who suffer the most, understand the best. 
My  friends are divergent, each one a unique patch of colorful fabric. Their ages, interests, tastes, religions and heritages are as vast as my appreciation for their differences.  Many of them have arrived in my life in the unlikeliest places, but always at divine moments. I have been blessed with the ability to appreciate their diversity; absorbing, enjoying, and  learning. Like quilt pieces of various color, dimension, and texture, lovely just as they are. But,when I  sew that variety into my life quilt, my world becomes more beautiful;  fuller, and more joyful.   Sometimes it has been the patches that I thought were too different, too colorful, or too dull, that have added the most meaning to my days.  Those patches, are the ones that I may have cast aside,  if I chose to look with my eyes rather than my spirit.  Sadly, I am sure that has happened from time to time. It can be discomforting to accept others, who are unlike what we are accustomed to.  These days, I try to allow my Creator, to be the coordinator of my sewing circle knowing best what is important for my life quilt.  It would take volumes to pay tribute to the variety of friends who have profoundly touched my life, changed its direction, my character and my heart.  When I not only accept, but  savor the uniqueness of others, suppress the urge to clone me, my life is enhanced by you. I give myself a huge gift by opening up, stretching, and allowing others to live THEIR patterns and share them with me.   My heart is warmed and expands within my beautiful quilt of diversity. And that, is a beautiful thing.