March is a transition month, from winter into spring, and with it comes a psychic transition too. It is a time for renewal. We can't help feeling more hopeful inside as the weather improves and the seeds of a new season are planted.
We wish for all of you the joy that comes with the simple pleasures of spring, warmer rays of sun on your face, and, as Katie shares below, with a friend or two by your side.
Joan, Katie and Meb
CK Chesterton said, "We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea and we owe each other a terrible loyalty."
I imagine this boat filled with friends, more Love Boat than Titanic, all of us fighting to stay afloat at one time or another, alternating between the rowers and the rowed, recognizing a certain coordination in our efforts, a rhythm to our movements, that results in safe passage.
We need each other to survive and we need friendship to survive well.
One of the unexpected outcomes from our miracle journey was the nearly universal comment made about the "...awe-inspiring power of friendship..." reflected in the pages of The Miracle Chase. It is a power available to all of us, of course, but at the time one we didn't recognize.
A few weeks ago, the three of us made a rare appearance together (geographic constraints being what they are) at Meb's and my alma mater, Santa Clara University. We came in separate cars from different directions. Meb arriving from a few hours down the coast where she was visiting her Dad. Without much warning, she and her brothers were in the midst of end-of-life discussions about their father's quickly deteriorating health.
Joan drove herself along with her walker and cane, the accoutrements of her healing broken hip. "It's just so annoying, " Joan said in her typical life-goes-on fashion as she hobbled up the Mission Garden walk.
In spite of life having thrown both of them a curve, Meb and Joan both demonstrated two of my most important ingredients of friendship: showing up and honoring commitment.
I had flown in a couple of days before and was being driven down by Jan, a dear friend since the days when we were roommates in college. She knows where my secrets are buried, she is my younger daughter's godmother, and she is coming to hear us speak for the third time. Since no skeletons have come back to haunt me, I'm going to assume Jan has honored our friendship with loyalty and the keeping of confidences. I also assume she is coming to our talk because sometimes friendship motivates real effort - in this case, getting up early on a Sunday morning, the day before a cross-country business trip. I always get nervous before these events and being driven down by Jan added reassurance. I definitely appreciated that she was the rower.
Joan, Meb and I always begin our talks by sharing our stories as we did among the three of us when we began this journey so long ago. If stories are "data with a soul" as Brene Brown says, then when we share our stories we also open ourselves up to friendship. In someone else's hands, our stories can take on new meaning, deepen our understanding of who we are or who we want to be, and, allow us to see ourselves through a different lens, perhaps, a more objective one. We live inside our own stories and our stories live inside those people we are privileged to call our friends. Friendship weaves the threads of our personal stories together and as they intertwine we find connection and strength, each becoming a part of the other.
Maybe I have old times and old friends on my mind, stirred up memories from going back to walk the college path. Moving across the country four years ago has reinforced a deep gratitude for life long friendships, ones that transcend distance or long absence, give the benefit of the doubt and are quick to forgive and congratulate; friends that come to the rescue when tragedy strikes and then stick around when most people have moved on. A friend's expectations of us elevates the expectations we have of ourselves. John O'Donohue calls friends "found blessings" without which "...we would never have become who we are."
I am also more aware of how exhilarating cultivating new friendships can be. New friends hear your story all over again and challenge you in different ways. If friends are a "...mirror in which we recognize ourselves..." then new friends allow us to see ourselves in a different light. Jan gave me a card that day that said, "Life is like riding a bike, you must move forward in order to maintain your balance." (Albert Einstein) New friends keep you moving forward.
As our talk turned itself over to the crowd, several women stood up to tell a story, a piece of themselves laid bare, and ninety women listened, the seeds of friendship, found blessings, planted on an unseasonably warm and spring like day. (Katie)
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