|The Mystery within...|
This weekend I accepted a reciprocal invitation to share a meal, and continue renewing an old friendship, with a couple my late husband and I knew before we were married, and while our children were young. Our reminiscing took us back to the first places we lived after marriage, and the subsequent dwellings we occupied that eventually led us to our present homes. We marveled at the advancing ages of our children, and grandchildren, and shared our health status and other challenges that come with age. We became quite aware of our temporal timeline. I was stunned by how fast time has streaked by in the intervening years, and grateful to be renewing this old bond. It led me to reflect on what I have learned, and I am still learning, about friendship.
One of the most affirming acknowledgements and insight I received regarding friendships came in a Clinical Pastoral Experience handout I received back in the 1990’s. It was a joy to find this Xeroxed copy again of a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper column written by the psychotherapist Philip Chard titled, “Some of us don’t need many people to be truly happy.” Basically the article acknowledged that we are a social species but that not all of us are cut out for “…a life crowded with people.” Chard further wrote, “Many of my clients could benefit from being less people-focused, not more.” ‘Mostly what makes people crazy is other people,’ is how one associate puts it.” And …”while it has been rightfully said that you can’t know yourself without being known by others, it is equally true that you can’t know yourself without finding time to be alone with just you.” I still look forward to reading Chard’s continuing weekly columns.
And the guests on this week’s On-Being podcast, Parker Palmer and Courtney Martin – The Inner Life of Rebellion, told of the human aspect of rebellion that includes the importance of a discerning community and inter-generational friendships that connect us to both our inner and outer lives thereby transforming us into life-giving people. Our soul was compared to a shy wild animal that knows how to survive and only makes an appearance in a safe space. Paradoxically, we also need both chutzpah and humility, be open to critics, and to know our hidden wholeness that will allow us to experience discomfort and learn in public. It was said that we are each other’s health care workers, and faithfulness trumps effectiveness.
And I am currently reading Bessel A. van der Kolk’s book, “The Body Keeps the Score” telling how the trauma’s we experience affect us, mentally and physically, along with our relationships with others. He writes: “Being able to hover calmly and objectively over our thoughts, feelings, and emotions (an ability I’ll call mindfulness throughout this book) and then take our time to respond allows the executive brain to inhibit, organize and modulate the hardwired automatic reactions preprogrammed into the emotional brain. This capacity is crucial for preserving our relationships with our fellow human beings.” Responding to others with a friendly face and soothing voice does create a safe space where others and we can feel calm.
What if all our hearts could be tied together in friendship?