Robert and I tend to live in the middle of nowhere. One of my favorite things about living in the middle of nowhere is the distance I feel from the tumult and chaos of the world. It’s just we, me, the dogs, the trees, the birds, the clatter of light reaching down from the heavens and star studded nights. One of the things I dislike most about living in the middle of nowhere, besides the scant availability and sky high price of organic quinoa, is the geographical gaps, the yawning spaces between me and my families, between me and my dearest and most best friends. They’re only a phone call away! I can communicate with them any old time I choose, but I rarely get to commune with them, face to face, heart to heart, soul to soul and that’s the very sort of closeness that wards off the sad pinch of lonesomeness.
I was on a Daniel Day-Lewis kick this winter past and while watching Age of Innocence, I was struck by a short scene that went rather like this:
Newland Archer — “Aren’t you afraid of being alone?“
Countess Olenska — “No, as long as my friends keep me from being lonely.“
My friends, near and far, no matter where they reside, guard me from lonesomeness and I them. I ache for my far-away friends at times, wish them near to me, dream of them at night. What was life like before these computers and telephones, when boys on ponies galloped the daily mail from place to place? Now we are blessed with high-speed, silent and spooling lines of connectivity reaching out across the atmosphere in all directions, and still, and yet, there is no substitute for presence and the belongingness that rings like a cheerful bell in shared spaces.
In the past two weeks, I have visited a best friend and stayed in her home just a short skip from the sea. I have also hosted two dear friends in my own home and treasured the effects of their combined energies on my very soul and spirit. This morning, I talked to another best friend by telly and I realized that simply having those kindreds in my life isn’t enough, I need to be with them, smoothed by them like the waves smooth the rocks where the water meets the land, I need to be in their presence, safe under their wings, where healing and and growth thrive. I love my friends. I love to have them in my life. I love even more to hold them close, wrap my arms around them, wipe away their tears and echo back the curves of their smiles. My friends have never been more important to me than now, in this very second, on this very day.
The good, rich love of my friends heals, amends, erases and makes up for all the times I have suffered unlove at the hands of women with hard hearts. The gracious and merciful fire of my friends melts the ice and keeps me soft of heart and supple of soul. I pray my tenacious love does the same for them.
[this week past, in the Methow Valley]
This morning, in the wake of my wonderful visits with my friends, I took time to do some writing on the sunset deck while the morning was still cool. I thought it important to write about all my best and dearest friends, list their strengths, the light I see them in, the light I see in them, the things that make them robust and wildly beautiful. One by one, I concocted the definitions I hold loosely in my heart for my precious friends and I can’t wait to watch those definitions swirl, change and grow as the years fly by. I love who they have been. I love who they are. I love who they are becoming. I love the flexibility that comes with the knowing of them and the being known by them. Because I love them, their transmogrifications are breathtaking, inspiring and affecting. Because they are strong and full of light, I am attracted to them and driven to them. I wish nothing more than to grow in grace and beauty with them, always, for the rest of my days. They bring redemption to my life. They bring calm to the storms.
What about you? Do you live, most often, without the immediate comfort and company of your best friends? How do you reach across the broadness of space and connect deeply and meaningfully, despite the distances? What are the strongest, most beautiful things about your very favorite people — what drives you to them and tethers your heart to the bright of their souls? What do you value most about your best friends? Loyalty? Steadfastness? A sense of humor?
I look forward to reading what you have to share on this topic — don’t be shy!
Now the day is hot and I’m going to run to the lake for a swim and then sit in the shade beneath a kind tree while I do some sketching. Be well you little beauties! Bright shine your souls.
I am currently reading this book. Have you read it? It is written so magnificently, is rich with truths about human nature and the rhythm of the writing has really crept under my skin and crawled into my heart — I can practically hear the voice of John Ames as I read it. It’s purely wonderful in every way.