Friends in Spirit

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about friends, the meaning of friendship, the immense influence friends have had on me, and the possibility that I might have influenced them, too. This mutuality is the basis of friendship, isn’t it? Sometimes one is talking, talking, talking, while the other is listening closely; other times the roles are reversed. Yet the mutual sense of connectedness drives the relationship and keeps it living.

I decided a while ago that I want to give a “graduation” gift to the members of my spiritual companions training course. Closing gifts are a long-standing tradition among theatre people; that only just now popped into my mind; perhaps that’s where the seed of this idea was planted. Whether it is or not, the intuition to mark the occasion with a memento is strong.

But what to give? At first I thought I could make something for each person. Well, yes, I could make earrings for each woman; but then what could I make for the men?  These are not  cufflinks type of guys, nor are their ears pierced. Well, maybe a book for the men. . .

Then I woke up suddenly one night from a deep sleep, feeling that I needed to read Musings of a |Mediocre Gardener again. I’ve read it many times, since it first came to me as self-published, photo-copied booklets, three in all, from their author, my friend of forty years, Dori Dana Hudson. The clear, direct, simple language of her writing belies the profound and deeply spiritual nature of her reflections.

Dori was, in fact, my inspiration to take the spiritual companions training. She became a minister in her fifties, something she had wanted to do for a very long time. She took the plunge, and I admired her for having the courage. Her leap inspired me to jump off the cliff, too, and trust that God would hold me up.

Reading her book, on the train, on the way to see a play in London, I was again brought to tears as I read; and her messages had even more meaning and truth for me than ever before. I was suddenly certain that I had to share it with everyone in my spiritual companions course.

But something else happened. Reading the book reminded me of the deep spiritual connection I have always felt with Dori and, to a lesser extent, but still important, to her husband, Rob. From the day we met, in June, 1971, I knew we would be lifelong friends. (I also knew that Dori and Rob would end up together and said so.)

To be honest, I cannot remember when we last saw each other in person. I remember the visits, but not in any time order. Driving across country, my then-husband and I stopped to visit Rob and Dori and their baby son Andrew in Louisville, Kentucky. (Andrew is now a grown man, graduate of Fordham University, and out in the world.) And Dori and Rob came to San Francisco for a visit once. I have a photo of Dori crossing the arched bridge in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.

Even without the face-to-face presence, I still feel a deep, strong connection with them, an outpouring of love, of gratitude for their presence in my life. Our souls keep in touch.

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