The Precious Face of A Friend

Dear Cool Woman,

I love technology! It’s great to receive an email, text, Facebook announcement, or voice mail from a friend who’s far away. Life is busy and we have so many new ways to communicate, and yet…

When I’m sitting right in front of a friend, and see her face, I feel as if I’ve just arrived on a desert oasis. It makes me feel safe, complete, seen, appreciated, known, and a plethora of other joy-filled words that capture my heart. If you’re like me, you’ve collected friends from the various chapters of your life who live in different places, and know you in the many roles you’ve played along the way.  The physical presence of a friend is worth more than any amount of gold.

One of my very favorite authors, John O’Donohue, writes about friendship in his book Anam Cara (which means soul friend in the Gaelic language). He says, “…it is lovely to receive a letter or a phone call or even, in the silence of your own spirit, to sense their presence. Yet there is such deeper excitement when you return again and see the face you love; at the moment you enjoy a feast of seeing.†That’s exactly how it is.

Who are your soul friends? You most likely have many. One test is when you’ve  been away from a soul friend for a month, a year or several decades, then reunite; you look into their eyes, and you’re both transported to the time when you were connected on a regular basis. Time stands still with this soul friend.

For me this happened dramatically this year—twice with Bob and Judy, and Cal and LaRae. Both couples were friends from over thirty years ago when our children were young. Of course, we keep in touch with their activities on Facebook, yet, when we sat together over dinner, it was as if no time had passed. True, we were older, but the bond of friendship supersedes hair color, and any small (teeny-tiny) line on the face or other physical challenges. Even though I could not articulate my emotions with anything concrete or specific, I said to them, “Now I remember why I liked you so much.†Maybe the gift of friendship is meant to remain a beautiful mystery.

Right now, I live in Arizona, yet travel to the Midwest each year to reconnect with at least a few friends and family. These pilgrimages are vital to my daily life. No matter which changes we are experiencing, the grounding effect of family and friends enhances vitality.

These precious ones remind me who I was, am and always will be; and the current circumstances of our lives can be discussed as if it were a continuation of a previous conversation. We step back into the flow of that relationship with ease. This could be of the most beautiful aspect of human experience.

My message today is simple. Make a list of the friends you cherish. Visit them, if possible, and if it’s not possible, write about them. Recount three or four of your most vivid memories. Articulate their place in your life.

And please, share your writing with them—we forget so quickly those individuals who have supported, guided and shaped your path. At the same time, it will give them a lift to know that  they’ve made a difference in your life. This can be the best medicine for your soul and theirs. Let me know what happens as a result.

May you find comfort in the face of your friends,

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