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How often do we deeply connect with someone immediately? That's always my desire, but, even if I want it, it's usually not so.
Relationships take time, trust and effort – mostly. Our culture does not teach us to trust very easily and we often bring layers of identity and persona: the public sides that we expose and, the more private, that we initially conceal. Then there is the rare occasion when you understand you were meant to meet someone.
Take Sara for example. She was invited to a family wedding in a distant state and was not sure what to expect. I was also invited, but live in town where the wedding was held and was pretty certain what to expect. That I'd be sitting with my husband's boisterous and fun-loving siblings and their families. Weddings the past several years have served as reunions of sorts, collecting members from scattered locations. We seem to have achieved a groove.
Instead, my sister-in-law assigned me and my husband to the bride's family table, along with the bride's mother, her husband and his family, my sister-in-law and her husband, the bride's father. There was some re-arranging as we began to seat ourselves and we seemed to play musical chairs for a few minutes and then we settled. I ended up next to Sara.
I can't even remember our first exchange, but it was so natural and we got deep fast. I barely touched my salad as we talked about spirituality. We delightedly discovered that, as a practicing Buddhist and an active Quaker, we value and know the silence of meditation and worship. I was so grateful for this conversation that would not have happened had we been surrounded by my daughters or the extended family. It was wonderful to have uninterrupted time to get to know Sara. After the deep introduction, we connected then and there on Facebook just so we'd have a means of getting back in touch. A few weeks later, one Facebook comment led to an e-mail and we made plans to have a phone conversation.
I had it penned in my calendar and was so looking forward to the call, scheduled for just after my Friday yoga class. Sara lives in the Mountain Time Zone, so we did need to coordinate a bit. I also wondered if it would be as easy as it was in person. Sara is beautifully elegant and poised. I feel messy and out there. So, of course, when she asked me how I was, I blurted out it had been a hard week. I felt no need to keep up pretense. She, too, shared her struggles. And, as we talked, we discovered that, although, our life experiences may be different, we share common values, conditions and a strong desire to be led by Spirit ... even if we don't always manage to create time for quiet and meditation in the busy-ness of our lives.
She's launching a new coaching business that sounds to me like her life's work: helping people with their pain often experienced in career, life and health transitions, she said. She asked a lot about my art exploration with under-served kids. She calls hers a business and I can finally name mine as ministry, but they're really not that different. We both burn to make a difference in the world, in individual lives. We also discussed how the way we live seems counter-cultural, how we both have health concerns, how we have weaned ourselves from sugar (her) and gluten (me) and how hard it is amidst the busy-ness to take time to center with meditation or prayer. She's in intensive training for coaching certification and building a new business. I'm starting a new program, helping my daughters get settled in junior high and high school and keeping an eye on my mother. So parallel.
The hour floated by so quickly and we committed to chatting again. When I pressed the end button, I thanked Spirit for this bright spot in a tough week. And for the musical chairs that allowed me to meet and know Sara. God knew I was looking for a kindred spirit and She delivered.
I must confess that I may have been primed for this meeting earlier in the summer when I spoke my heart at a Quaker retreat, calling for companionship and a wonderful soul, unknown to me, immediately responded with an embrace that lasted through my tears. She embodied God's arms [http://salonforthesoul.blogspot.com/2012/07/remembering-i-am-loved.html]. Sara, I believe, is a mirror for me.
• When have I received the gift of deep connection with an apparent stranger?
• How has that affected me?
• How did I recognize it?
• What may have opened me?
• How did I express my gratitude?
preparing for the
watching the girls
was not in pants
I was ready for
a raucous time
with my silly
with the nieces
I never dreamed
I'd make a new
so like me on