When we were little (especially if we were little in the '50's), we often immortalized our friendships by carving everybody's initials with a heart between-- S.B. -heart- R.O. or I heart Johnny, for example. It was a way of saying we loved someone-- they were a friend of our hearts. It was a hope that we would always have that loving connection in our life.

I have just returned from a retreat. I went there with a friend, I came back from there with many friends. Friends of my heart. It was a very intense process, and yet also very restful. I learned so much from the experiences that others shared with me while I was there-- and I was also able to facilitate the learning of others.

Our blood relatives and our "parents" are often chosen by biology or by someone else's decisions about marriage or responsibility. As children, we rarely have the opportunity to choose our family. Many of us are lucky. We have a parent, or maybe two, who really love us and wish the best for us and work hard to help us grow. Many of us cope instead with adults who hurt us, or who are hurt. As we mature, regardless of what came before, we learn to find folks we can trust outside of our original family.

Often, these people begin as friends, and then we realize that our bond is deeper than mere friendship. We share a connection that is truly special, truly magical. These people become our chosen family-- our "spiritual family," if you will. The folks who love us and who we love as if they have always been a part of our lives, as if they always will be. Understanding that we can create a support network that is stronger (and often stranger) than the family we were born into brings a special kind of freedom with it.

I deeply enjoyed the friendships and experiences of this past weekend. I look forward to our next meeting, whether at an organized retreat or at a local coffee shop. And I know that just because I don't hear from someone I really felt a moment of connection with-- it doesn't mean that I can't appreciate what that moment held. The time I spend with these special people is carved into my heart. Each meeting is a gift, and all the distance in between visits can never take that gift away from me.

As the old saying goes: Merry Meet, Merry Part, and Merry Meet Again.

No comments: