When my twentieth book was published, we had a party in our backyard. It was such a milestone. My wife, Susan, surprised me that day by having the incomparable folk singer, May Erlewine, play with her quartet. I was dumbfounded to see her in our driveway. As May played, her voice threaded through our histories and I could feel the weave of stories that have brought us all together. After her first set, I offered a reading, one piece from each of my books. I have read all over the world and, honestly, I’m never nervous, but reading in our backyard to our dearest friends, I was. As I took in all those loving faces, my heart swelled and I realized that what so touches me about May and her music, beneath all her gifts, is that when I first saw her play, she reminded me that I am alive and that the moment we are in has yet to happen. And standing before my friends, I said as much, adding, “I feel this with each of you. Every time we’re together, no matter the distance or time in between, I am reminded that I am alive and that all this has yet to happen. In this way, each of you holds up my heart. In this way, each of you opens my heart. In truth, anyone or anything that reminds us that we are alive and that this has yet to happen is a friend.” I could feel all these beautiful beings with their gifts and burdens, mirrored and softened by each other’s company. Insight often appears in the loving presence of others. It had happened again. Standing with friends on this raft of an afternoon after years of rowing downstream together, I could see that friendship is my religion, the constant practice of love in the world.
A Question to Walk With: Ask a friend what it means to be a friend.
This excerpt is from my book in progress, The Spirit of Friendship.
*Photo credit: Helena Lopes