A few days ago I had a visit from a dear friend I hadn’t seen in years. As young mothers we lived in the same town and attended the same church. When her husband was confirmed in the Episcopal church, he asked my husband to be his godfather. When their third child was born, they asked us to be his godparents; when my son was born they became his.
Among the many things Ginger and I had in common, perhaps the most important to both of us was a deep spiritual thirst. I had experienced a spiritual awakening at the age of 17 when the Bible came alive for me. Her awakening came with the miracle of the birth of her first child. Together, the two of us lapped up church services, Bible study, prayer groups and retreats like parched kittens. In our spare time we took care of each others’ kids, shared our deepest feelings, and prayed with and for each other.
Within a few years Greg’s work called him to another town. They moved several times after that and we rarely saw each other again. Then, a few weeks ago, I got a call from Ginger telling me that after living with prostate cancer for 17 years, Greg had died and she was returning to Florida to visit family and old friends for some love therapy. We picked a day to meet and I looked forward to her visit.
But our paths have deviated radically over the years and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I live in a big city; she lives in a remote rural area. I’ve traveled extensively, she has stayed close to home. I entered the germ-free tower of academia; her work as a nurse and caregiver required regular physical intimacy in the trenches. What concerned me most was that she had grown increasingly conservative in her political and religious views whereas I had become what I feared she would see as a flaming liberal religious heretic!! (She watches Fox Network and I watch CNN!) Would we feel comfortable together? Could we be honest about our differing views? Would she still like me, or would the polarization so rampant in today’s America infect us with its toxic distrust and animosity?
I needn’t have worried. Our time together was Real time. Soul time. A time for Love. We talked about Greg. We talked about our kids and grandkids and wished we could see each others’ families. We laughed about the fact that she loves Sarah Palin and is aghast that I voted for Obama. We laughed at my incredulity that she doesn’t believe in evolution. Then my daughter-in-law stopped by to borrow some life jackets, so Ginger got to meet her and my grandsons. A while later my daughter called to say she was coming by with her girls to drop off some things she’d borrowed from us. Ginger and I marveled at these amazing synchronicities. It never happens that both of my girls and their children come by unexpectedly on the same day, and yet that day they did. Later, we met my husband at our grandsons’ Little League game and after 35 years Ginger was reintroduced to the coach, my son, her godson.
Like I said, the one thing Ginger and I always had in common was our spiritual thirst, a thirst for Love. And we’ve never stopped trying to quench it. Over time, drinking in love washes away all the dross—all the words, ideals, prejudices, and wounds—and leaves only the pure essence of soul wherein the river of love that underlies everything comes to dwell. It’s no coincidence Ginger received exactly what she needed that day. The river called Love knows its own.
It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave