“Eenie meenie chili beanie,
the spirits are about to speak.”
“Are they friendly spirits?”
“Friendly? Just listen!”
–Rocky & Bullwinkle
My dear friend Ann has been haunting my thoughts these last few weeks. So shortly before eight this morning, I responded with a call. I am fortunate to have friends who remain unfazed by phone calls that I know are too irregular and sometimes indecently early. This morning, as we talked, I curled up in my favorite chair, still wearing my robe and pajamas, and settled into what I knew would be a highlight of my day, as we madly dashed around the bases of each other’s lives in an effort to reconnect our shared dots. I know I can call Ann anytime and be better for the visit. She is so bright, I feel smarter in her presence. She is so refreshingly real – she doesn’t bother to hide behind a façade of politeness or social conventionality that prevents others from seeing her for who she really is. And because she is who she is, she invites others, like me, to do and be the same. It makes me wonder why I don’t call her more often.
Unfortunately, most of my friends live in south Texas, so our visits come by infrequent phone calls. But as I think about it, that’s part of the wonder of these friendships. No matter how long it’s been between visits, the strength of the friendship carries us through our times of shared silence. And when the threads are picked up again, as they were this morning, there is no need for patching or mending of tears with apologies for laxness in calls. We just resume our conversations seamlessly as if the months of silence were the briefest of interludes.
I met most of my good friends in a Companions in Christ small group almost seven years ago. Outside of marriage and raising four children, I regard this as one of my most important and treasured life shaping experiences. The material was great but it was the women that made it unforgettable. What transpired within our group stayed put – whether it was the sharing of dreams or demons or hopes or fears, it never ventured outside our small circle – and what grew out of that intimacy and trust, was the gift of dear friendships and a closeness to God that still lives with me today. My friend Ann came from this circle, as did my friend Bernice, a true ‘hostess with the mostest”, who could give Perle Mesta — the namesake of this historic neighborhood where I now live– a huge run for her money.
Bernice dared to ask me a question three years ago, that has haunted me ever since…
“What are you going to do with your writing?
At the time, I hadn’t planned to do anything with it. What was there to do? But out of the seeds of that haunting question have grown two years of private journals which is now transformed into this more public one. And beyond that, who knows? Well, maybe my good friends Rocky and Bullwinkle… who I still see are sitting before their cartoon-ish crystal ball, as they listen for calls from friendly spirits.