"The language of friendship is not words but meanings. It is an intelligence above language."
~Henry David Thoreau
So there I was sitting, in a lovely condo in south Nashua, and in walks this vivacious woman, who immediately reminded me of an old and dear friend from college...Eve. As fate would have it, it turned out this woman's name was Vivian (of course) and her youngest daughter's name was Eve! Her Eve, who was almost 10 at the time, would eventually grow up to be our babysitter after her sister Becky, and one of my art/yoga and Jewish spirituality students for 4 years at our temple, as well as one of my Rosh Hodesh: It's a Girl Thing! girls.Talking about it recently, Viv and I recall having th same feeling of "I know you" right from the get-go; both of us creative, quirky, sentimental, humorous and soulful...although we express ourselves in different ways there was this awareness of "you will be my sister" that struck us both from the start and has stayed with us for the past 10.5 years. We can talk, laugh, cry for hours on end...and go for months without seeing each other...pick up where we left off without missing a beat. This is how it is with all of my dearest friends.
A little over two years ago, Viv and her husband moved north, about an hour and a half away. Their girls were in college and it was time for them to make a change. The summer they were preparing to move, I happened to be in a little thrift shop not far from my house. I came across this tiny red book of essays by Henry David Thoreau. When I say tiny I mean it's maybe 3" x 4". The lengthiest section of the book was Thoreau's thoughts on friendship. I found it hard to read the archaic writing style, and thought, “Wow! This would be a perfect canvas for an altered book...I'll create something really special and give it to Viv as a going away gift”. As life would have it, I never got around to altering the pages...and I never really sat down to read this petite treatise on friendship...and yet I kept it by my bed with the intention that one day I would add some images and give it to Viv. I decided when she came down this week that it was time to just give it to her already, without fanfare, "just because".
I never knew until she told me the sunny morning I placed it in her hand that she LOVED THOREAU; he was a favorite author since she was a girl in High School...how cool is that? In between errands (meaning medical appointments and a mini shopping spree-as I am home-bound-this was an opportunity to pick up birthday and Chanukah gifts for my girls). We stopped at a CVS drugstore, so she could replace her ever-missing sunglasses. I stayed in the car, not wishing to expend extra energy before our next stop an picked up the tiny red bound book, opening it to a random page. There it was, the quote above. My heart filled up with a huge YES! That's the kind of friend Viv is. That's the kind of friend many people in my life seem to be; beings with whom there is a special recognition, heart to heart and soul to soul. My God, I am so blessed!
Some friends live near by, others far away across the US and a few in other nations. Some I've met through intensive trainings at IJS, YJS, SoulCollage® and Phoenix Rising...others are from our Temple Beth Abraham family, old friends from my childhood, high school and college...many of whom I've sought out through the internet (or have found me)...the ersatz train/plane/automobile that can take me anywhere I want to go, especially now that I am essentially homebound...and then of course my flesh and blood family. Indeed, I am blessed again and again to have so much love in my life. It is true that I am by nature a communicator. As a teen and young woman it was through poetry and song. Later it was through visual art and then through yoga/movement...eventually teaching and coaching. Now my primary form of expression is blogging; a unique art form that at times can encompass several of these other modalities.
I want to return to the quote again: "The language of friendship is not words but meanings. It is an intelligence above language." Since this last MS exacerbation that has caused my skills in language to be in flux, this idea of friendship being "an intelligence above language" strikes me with intense power. I have explained on this blog how when I lose words, or the ability to construct a proper sentence, beneath the words, my witness consciousness is aware of all that is missing structurally, all that is spoken and all that I am longing to say, but cannot find the words for. Yet, despite my difficulty in speaking at times, I am still capable of communicating clearly. Perhaps this is that intelligence of which Thoreau writes? My dearest friends have no problem understanding me, no matter how garbled, accented, syntax confused or odd my speech pattern is in any given day. There is an intelligence beyond words (above or below or perhaps in between), in a gesture, a vocal inflection, a shared experience, an energetic sensation or even projection over the internet or telephone that we share; it expands words, exceeds words, fills words, infuses them with something difficult to name, but that we all have felt at times. Perhaps these are the flashes of awareness outside of time that the philosopher Martin Buber might have considered “I-Thou” moments. When the space between two beings is filled with the Holy Blessed One…and God’s Presence becomes a bridge that binds our hearts and souls in a way that words cannot. The connection is real and lasting in our cellular/soulullar memories, but brief in "real" time. I am now visualizing a thumbprint on my heart, an indelible, unique mark left by each friend, that will remain with me always. I suppose my heart is smudged with many prints like the sliding glass doors that leads to the the back yard of our house...the one covered in nose and paw prints from our dog and cats, separating them from the world outside and the world inside our home. Yes, again, the heart, my heart a symbol for home, love, safety and Divine connection.
The SoulCollage® card at the beginning of this entry is one I created to represent my daughter RoseWillow in my SoulCollage® Deck. It reflects a sense of longing, connection, playfullness and heart-centered presence. All of these words can be applied to my feelings about friendship at this time in my life. I consider my daughters, Rosie and Belin to be two of my closest friends. I know, I've read all the parenting books that warn against "being friends" with our children...that there are boundaries that must be set between a mother and her children. We have boundries and we cross them sometimes; this to me is healthy for us. All relationships must shift and grow as we change throughout our lives...so too the relationships with our own mothers and children. I wouldn't want it any other way.