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Feeling bombarded by rainbows?

1504516_731687150176894_321169121_oUndoubtedly many of my friends feel bombarded by all of the rainbows, all of the repetitive expressions of joy and celebration over the Supreme Court decision on marriage. But consider how we have been bombarded with your symbols that have excluded us all of our lives.

Every time you posted about a wedding or an anniversary, it was a reminder that until very recently (and even today in LA) we didn’t have that right, our celebrations had to be held in secret, if at all. Or we were relegated to celebrations of a lesser status (civil union). We were constantly reminded of being denied that simple opportunity to make a public commitment to our life partners and share our joy with family and friends. And because we couldn’t marry, we couldn’t have wedding anniversaries.

Every time you posted about your spouse’s illness or injury, it was a reminder that if one of us were ill or injured, we didn’t have hospital visitation rights, wouldn’t be given information by doctors or hospital staff, couldn’t make necessary medical decisions.

Every time you posted about new children in your family or your child’s school play, it was a reminder that we’ve been denied the right to adopt because our society would rather see children live without parents than place them in loving homes where they might be cared for by two men or two women. And if we had children, it was a reminder that we had to hide to protect them from those who would bully them, or worse.

Every time you posted about your teen’s prom, it reminded us that our children might be denied the right to take whomever they chose to their prom or that they might never make it to their prom because gay teens face such higher risks of violence and suicide.

Every time you posted about your office holiday party, it reminded us that we risked losing our jobs if our boss knew the truth about us.

Every time you posted your grief as you mourned the loss of your spouse, it reminded us that our loss wasn’t recognized because we didn’t have a spouse, we only had a “friend”.

We have been bombarded by your postings that remind us (as if we needed to be reminded) that we have been denied the rights you enjoy.

You probably didn’t mean to do this but nevertheless, it has been our reality. Likewise, we don’t mean to flaunt anything in your face, we are simply rejoicing that we have finally been granted one of the rights you take for granted. And we’re rejoicing even though it is only one of those rights.

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The Gift of Worry

IMG_2356Worrying.

We tell each other not to do it. We try to encourage others by sharing quotes about faith conquering it. We insist that it won’t change anything.

And then we feel guilty because we do it anyway.

Telling me not to worry is like telling me not to be me. I can’t help it, it’s a part of who I am. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have faith. It doesn’t mean that I believe the end is near. It simply means I acknowledge the struggle. I do have faith and I do know that I’ll be okay. But waiting and not knowing can be the hardest part.

Will my worrying change anything? Actually, yes. Not the outcome, but the process. It gives me an energy I might not otherwise have. The impetus to explore and learn all I can to prepare myself for whatever is next. And the strength to be vulnerable – to ask for help, for prayer, for love. Allowing myself to be vulnerable can be one of the most frightening and difficult things I do. But worrying can provide me an opportunity to let it show and to ask others to stand beside me and help me through it.

It also provides something for those who love me. Although it may be difficult for them to see my vulnerability, it gives them an opportunity to reach out and give me the gift of their strength, their love.

It’s okay for me to worry. I’ll get through this. And when I do, I’ll be stronger, my faith will be stronger, my relationships will be stronger. So I think that maybe worry can sometimes be a gift in disguise.

Female Friendships – Just Because I’m a Lesbian Doesn’t Mean …

I chose this picture of my long lost friend Ellen Gallant so that perhaps through the miracle of the internet, we might reconnect. She is seen here with our wonderful Dean Bonnie Leonard at Wellesley College.

I chose this picture of my long lost friend Ellen Gallant so that perhaps through the miracle of the internet, we might reconnect. She is seen here with our wonderful Dean Bonnie Leonard at Wellesley College.

I read an article this morning entitled “‘Female Husbands’ in the 19th Century” and it made me think of one of the most liberating things about coming out for me – how it impacted my female friendships. (Disclaimer: I make no pretense to speak for all lesbians, I’m speaking only of my own experience. And I share this for those who might be curious or uncomfortable about the depth of female friendships with lesbians.)

I don’t know where I stand on the nature vs. nurture debate, nor do I really care. I am who I am and that is enough for me. If that’s not good enough for you, I simply don’t need you in my life.

As a teen and young adult I didn’t know I was a lesbian. Although I’d heard the word and could certainly define it, I really couldn’t comprehend what that meant. I didn’t dislike boys, in fact I can still name a few who were always very special to me (some of whom still don’t know how much!) If asked about romantic attractions, I would have named a boy or two, but it was just that – romantic, in that high school girl kind of way.

But I felt somehow more stifled in my friendships with girls – as much as I loved my girlfriends, there seemed a need to hold back, some subconscious societal message that I loved them too much.

It was only after I came out to myself that I was able to understand how important and special those female friendships were and how it was a stigma that I didn’t understand that had prevented me from enjoying those friendships to their fullest. Isn’t it ironic that I couldn’t fully express my platonic love for my female friends until I learned to accept and express my romantic love for women as well?

I’m a touchy-feely kind of person with a sensitive heart. It never seemed awkward to touch, hold hands, hug a male friend. But it did seem awkward to even want to have the same physical friendship with female friends. It was only after coming out that I was able to be freed from this foolishness and recognize not only that there is nothing wrong with women loving women, but what a wonderful and beautiful thing it is. Women have had these deep bonds with each other for millennia – sometimes romantically and sometimes simply as passionate friendships. That liberation of my female friendships has contributed so much to who I have become today.

When I’m with a friend who is secure enough in her own identity, I can walk down the street holding hands, arm in arm, or with arms intertwined around each other simply because we enjoy the blessing of sharing this world together. I can tell her I love her. I can hold her hand when she’s afraid, caress her cheek when she’s ill, hug her tight when she grieves. And I can also walk arm in arm with her through the park, caress her cheek when she cries tears of joy, and hug her tight at the first sight of her. How often I’ve walked, arms around each other, laughing and joking, with friends who didn’t think twice about what others might think of them or if I might have a hidden agenda or become overly friendly!

I dearly love my female friends. I can find them attractive without be attracted to them. I can hold them close without wanting to sleep with them. And by the way, I can love a man, find him attractive and even hold him close without wanting to sleep with him either! And despite the conservative frenzy over protecting the sanctity of marriage, none of this is a threat to my marriage, or to yours.

Reading historical stories of women’s lives, we do know that some of the women in these stories engaged in romantic/sexual relationships with each other but we don’t know that about all of them. Regardless of their romantic or sexual attractions and relationships, these are stories of women who cared deeply about each other. Being a lesbian certainly is about romance and sexuality, but it is not simply that. For some of us, it is also about being free to be whole – to cherish the depths of our female friendships in a way that allows us to be who we are meant to be – human beings fully dependent on our ability to be in relationship with others. Regardless of our sexual preference, we cannot be truly whole nor can we even survive if we do not embrace and nurture our ability to develop those caring relationships with those with whom we share our world.

Waxing Poetic on the Eve of a 40th Reunion

Pat Hawkins circa 1971It can be amazing sometimes to think of how self-centered our adolescent lives were. I was fourteen when my family moved from New York to South Carolina and while most folks made me feel very welcome there, there were a few who clearly didn’t. And being painfully shy didn’t help. Being new in town can feel isolating but I don’t think it ever occurred to me that I wasn’t the only “new kid in school.” Ours was perhaps the only class to attend the brand new Northwestern High School for four consecutive years and those four years were the extent of my life in Rock Hill.

Even among those who were always welcoming, there is a sense of feeling out of place when you don’t share a history. Many of you grew up together. You attended elementary school and middle school together. Some even went on to college together. And many have stayed, if not in Rock Hill, at least nearby. You have a history, and maybe even a “now.”

But for those of us who were only there a short time, our memories may have faded more than yours. Some of you I remember well while others I need to be reminded of. As each update on our reunion site comes through I run to my yearbooks to see if I can put a face with a name, bring up some old memory that I can dust off, and reconnect the dots of the past. Sometimes a name is familiar, sometimes a face, and rarely, a memory of some moment in time, a feeling, or some shared connection will come back. It was just four years, forty years ago.

I wonder how many of you remember those of us who were with you for such a short time. We were just high school kids – one kid in a sea of many faces, at a time when we weren’t likely to have made profound impressions on anyone. How many of us even noticed  the new kids or noticed how short their time was with us?

And now forty years later, as we plan a re-union, we may meet for the first time. Or we may meet again and it will be as if we parted yesterday. But more likely for many, we will be meeting strangers we once knew or old friends for the first time. How much of life has happened in forty years? We’ve all had our successes and our failures, our celebrations and our sorrows. There have been comings and goings, births and deaths, sadness and hopefully, much joy. Some among us may not have changed – we may recognize you from your graduation picture or discover your life has been exactly as you planned it 40 years ago while others have become entirely different people or have simply grown into a potential we hadn’t glimpsed and couldn’t have imagined.

We are a tapestry of diversity with ever changing colors and shapes, a tapestry that tells multitudes of stories from varying perspectives.

Reunions help to weave those tapestries anew – with both the telling of stories and the keeping of secrets, both the making or strengthening of deep connections and the simplicity of superficial smiles. All are freshly sewn together with recollections of the joys of our youth and the angst of our adolescence.

As our lives intersect again for only a day or two, will you censure yourself to guard the facade you carry or will you throw caution to the wind and reveal your vulnerability? How will you sum up the past forty years or even just relate who you’ve become in that brief window of a conversation?

As for me, I’ve yet to decide about attending reunion. It’s relatively easy to take time from work at that time of year although the expense of travel does make it difficult to justify. But perhaps the biggest reason I’m undecided is that same self-centeredness I opened with about our adolescent years. I’m still shy and I’d be coming alone (my wife wouldn’t want to attend nor would I want to put her through it!) Attending any event alone is difficult for those of us who are shy and introverted. I don’t have a lot of history there and except for a few old classmates, I don’t know if any would even remember me. And whether pressed upon us or self-imposed, that sense of being an outsider, of being a new kid in town can be very uncomfortable for an introvert. Who knows, perhaps I will try to stretch my inner extrovert, expand my horizon and meet some strangers I used to know.

 

It’s always the little things

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Yesterday started out like any other … I was sitting on the couch with my morning coffee reading the news when Phoebe (our 1 1/2 year old Jack Russell/Border Terrier mix) jumped off the couch, ran into the middle of the room and began to vomit. Lovely. But then as we began to clean it up, she repeated this two more times. It didn’t seem to be too much of a problem and there wasn’t much we could do at this point. I had to go to work and my wife had to go to the eye doctor.

Around 11:15 a young man came to my office at the church looking for a clergy person to discuss some theological questions with which he was wrestling. He was facing a personal crisis and was battling with his faith. Since there were no clergy available I spent a bit of time with him, listening to his troubles and his questions, and reassuring him that there was nothing wrong with questioning and that our clergy would be happy to talk with him as soon as someone was available. In the midst of our conversation my phone rang – perhaps not the most opportune moment for the theme song from “The Big Bang Theory” to begin to play but the young man was unfazed and commented that he watched the show as well.

The call was from my wife. She was still in Philadelphia after seeing the eye doctor and was quite upset. The pressure in her eye was high and there is concern about her optic nerve. New medication, she has to go back again in another week and oh, by the way, it looks like surgery is going to be necessary. I know this worries her and now I’m concerned that she has to drive over an hour to get home.

The next time the phone rings I’m expecting it to be her telling me she’s home safe. But instead, she’s calling to tell me that Phoebe is still vomiting and she’ll be going to the vet at 3:30. I have a 4:30 dentist appointment so I can’t go with her. We text back and forth while I’m in the dentist’s chair — x-rays and bloodwork – what are they looking for? – an obstruction or pancreatitis — and as my worry for our baby is increasing so are the dollar signs in my head. Just as I arrive at the vet she’s ready to go. It’s good news, there’s no obstruction and she doesn’t have pancreatitis – whew, no surgery – but they still don’t know what it is. So they’ve hydrated her, given us a can Rx dog food, three medications and lots of instructions. We get home and Phoebe has a little dinner (she would’ve liked more) but she still isn’t herself and just curls up next to us. We’re all glad the day is over.

This morning Phoebe still isn’t quite herself although she does seem a little better. So it should be a good day. On my way to work I start thinking about yesterday and suddenly the tears start to flow. Were they tears of sadness or frustration? Well, they were sort of a mix of joy, of frustration and of sadness. I had started thinking about the experience being in the vet’s office yesterday. It really was a little thing that most people take for granted but we know we cannot always take such things for granted. The people in the office were so kind (as they always are) but it just struck me how they treated us exactly the same way they would have treated any other married couple. There was no derision, no sideways glances, no “Oh, you must be sisters”  comments. It was just a normal and natural interaction between the vet’s staff and a couple whose dog was ill. How odd that a simple common courtesy could start the tears flowing.

On one hand, the tears were tears of joy – that we can be recognized and treated with the same respect that other married couples, or even unmarried couples, can take for granted every day.

But there was also a sadness in those tears, knowing that we haven’t always been able to expect such respectful treatment and that, in fact, we still can’t expect it everywhere. If we have to go to PA for the eye surgery, our marriage will not be recognized there. I’ll simply be a friend with no legal rights rather than the spouse that I am. Yes, there is a sadness from the twenty years of not being able to expect to be treated with a simple common courtesy, twenty years of being told and being treated as though we were somehow less worthy of such dignity. And there is a sadness that still, while we have been blessed to be granted this respect, this dignity, these rights around our home in NJ, we know that elsewhere, there are those who are granted more legal rights to ignore and deny our legal married status, to take away our rights and treat us with disdain.

Have you ever been acutely aware of when you and your spouse were treated with respect as spouses or even simply as a couple deserving of respect? Is it the kind of thing that presses into your consciousness every day? It seems a little thing, to be treated with the same respect as any other couple, married or unmarried. It may be a little thing, but it’s a little thing that can mean so much to those for whom it has long been denied.

Yes, it’s always the little things – the little things that can make an ordinary day feel like it’s spiraling out of control, and the little things that can make the difference between feeling like an outcast and feeling accepted as a fully equal human being.

It’s always the little things, whether it is the straw that broke the camel’s back or a simple word that can empower the disenfranchised. What little thing might you do today? Will your words, your actions, even your presence break a camel’s back or will you empower someone who has been disenfranchised?

Respite

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Thoughts for a friend taking a respite in the midst of grief but why not for everybody all the time?

Be well.
Be safe.
Be good to yourself.
Cry if you must.
Laugh as much as you can.
Have some fun.
Get some rest.
Know that you are loved.
Know that you are not alone.
And if all else fails, call me if you need bail money.

Being Present

I tend to be a quiet person (an odd thing for a blogger, perhaps) but it’s hard to be quiet when a friend is struggling. I always want to make everything better and so often there just isn’t anything to be done. When someone is suffering we often find that we keep talking, offering words of comfort, or perhaps just talking to fill that awkward and uncomfortable silence. But truly, our presence is more valuable than our words. Presence alone, a silent presence can be so precious when we are in need of comfort. But how much more difficult to be simply present in our transient and yet constantly connected society.

If we lived closer, I’d come over to your house and I’d sit with you. I’d hold your hand. I’d fix you a cup of tea. Seeing your face, I wouldn’t need your words to tell me what to do for you, I’d see it in your eyes. I’d hand you the kleenex or make the coffee shop run for your cappuccino. I’d somehow know if you wanted to talk or if you needed words of encouragement. I’d have a sense of whether you wanted a hug or just someone to sit there and be with you. I’d know if it might be better to leave you alone for a little while with the knowledge that I’m still within earshot. And I wouldn’t leave you for too long.

But how do we do this from a distance? How do I know if you’re hurting and needing a hug or if you’re struggling and need someone to hold your hand? How can I sit with you and reassure you that you’re not alone, that you are loved and that your pain is shared?

On the other hand, perhaps you’re just being quiet. Perhaps you’re taking a break and indulging in some rare and precious moments of solitude. The difficulties may be far enough below the surface that you aren’t battling the demons, you may be enjoying a private, personal retreat.

When there’s distance between us, unless you’re able to tell me where you are and what you need, I have to take a chance. I’m not willing to take the risk that you may need my presence and I’ll have turned a blind eye leaving you with a sense of abandonment. I have to press, I have to ask if you are okay and if there is anything you need to help you through. If I’m intruding into your peaceful solitude, I’m sorry, but I’d rather have to ask your forgiveness than to have left you in need.

 

You Are Enough

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Best graduation photo ever! I had just graduated from Wellesley in 1990 and the rebel in me, reacting to the media frenzy that surrounded our graduation, wore a sign on my back proclaiming that I was among those the press had labeled “just a pack of whining, unshaven, radical feminist spinster tartlets.” This small group of women graduating from Wellesley in 1990 had started the “Mommy Wars” (according to the international press, anyway).

Aside from the internal politics of how our commencement speaker was chosen, the issue being raised was not, as the media would have you believe, that we opposed Barbara Bush’s decision to drop out of college, marry and raise a family. The issue of concern was the question of how many women graduating from college (even Wellesley) in 1990 would have the economic stability to be able to choose to abandon their education, give up a career, stay home to raise a family without a job outside the home and still maintain that level of security.

In any case, Barbara invited her friend, Raisa Gorbachev to speak as well, and while the president of the college invited Hilary Clinton to speak two years later, still (after playing on both sides of the political fence) she wasn’t chosen for the coveted position of Secretary of Education. Our graduation was a media circus but we had a glorious day nonetheless.

And this is my graduation picture. This picture depicts a very special moment that day. One of my dearest friends, Maryann, had just given me a monogrammed pendant as a graduation gift. Engraved on the back were the words “You are enough.” along with the date. These words came from a poem entitled “You Are Enough!: A Woman Seminarian’s Story” by Nancy Ore that was published in Rosemary Radford Ruether’s book Womanguides. It is a poem about women being told throughout our lives that we are not enough, that whatever we do is not enough. From our parents to our spouses to our children, there is an underlying message that simply being who we are is not enough. And then there are the pastors who tell us that all of our work in the church is not enough unless we internalize all the guilt of humanity over the starving of children in the world. And the counselors who tell us that our only hope for sanity is to struggle with our demons, integrate our childhood traumas, stop crying, “clarify our poetic symbols” and not feel that we are not enough. While all those around us tell us we are not enough, we are also being told that we truly are not enough if we accept this. What hope is there?

The woman in the poem gives up and waits for death. When it comes, she finds herself “locked in deep blue pocket tomb.” But then, the  voice comes to her saying “YOU ARE ENOUGH … naked, crying, bleeding, nameless, starving, sinful, YOU ARE ENOUGH.”

The poem ends with a resurrection image but for Maryann and for me and I suspect for countless other women who struggle with these messages everyday, it is this voice telling us that we are enough, no matter what, that helps us not give up. No matter if you are naked, if you are crying, if you are bleeding, if you are nameless, if you are starving, if you are sinful – YOU ARE ENOUGH!

My friends, YOU ARE ENOUGH! Listen to the voice.

P.S. — As each of Maryann’s sisters turned 50, she gave each of them a similar monogrammed pendant with the same words engraved on the back. And three years later, as Maryann was graduating, her sisters invited me to participate in presenting one to her as well. Unfortunately, one sister (the one who may have been deemed the most successful according to the world’s standards) did not survive long, she heard the words but still felt she could never be enough and she gave up. I must believe that for Sue Ellen:

And the third day

she sat up

asked for milk and crackers

took ritual bath with angels

dressed herself with wings

and flew away.

And again the voice came to her to reassure her of what she hadn’t been able to understand before — “YOU ARE ENOUGH!”

You Moved My Soul to Dance

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.” — Flavia Weedn

I hadn’t heard or seen this quote in its entirety before! I had only heard the first and last sentences strewn together, skipping over the ones in between. This inspirational quote is often used to ease the pain of missing someone who has gone from our life in what we think was too short a time and to acknowledge the depth of the impact they have left on our hearts.

But why must it refer only to those who have gone from our lives too quickly? We need only remove the phrase “and quickly go” to read this as relating to many more people throughout our lives. So many people have come into my life and while some have stayed but a very short time, others have either remained constant in their presence or constant in heart even while we’ve been separated by both time and miles.

What joy there is in those who have moved our souls to dance! How our lives have been enriched by those whose “passing whisper of their wisdom” has awakened something in us that may otherwise have remained dormant forever. And what creative artistry must one possess to make even the sky more beautiful? Each person who has done one of these things has given us gifts beyond measure. But there are those precious few who, by their very presence in our lives, have provided all of this and changed our lives forever.

And yet, there are others who we may have known only from a distance. Not the superstars, the celebrities, authors, politicians or the like, but the everyday people who may have seemed insignificant in our lives, who may have only crossed our path for a brief moment of life. What of them? To paraphrase Gandhi — “whoever you meet may seem insignificant at the time, but it is most important that you know them.”  There are those with whom we may have had only a fleeting encounter and yet they have somehow left us richer for the experience. We may not even be able to recall them to mind when asked, but when they are mentioned, something strikes a chord within us that says “yes, I remember her, her smile always made me think the world was a better place” or “I knew him once, he did a simple thing for me that was nothing more than his job but he taught me how to make others feel important” or “I was a stranger and she made me feel like I belonged” or “he just accepted me for who I am.”

These are the people who come into our lives and quickly go, whether we actually know them or not, whether we interact with them once or a dozen times, whether we form friendships for short periods of our youth, whether or not we ever even have a chance to tell them that they changed our lives for the better. If we simply open ourselves to the possibility, we may find innumerable footprints on our hearts and we will know that, in fact, after every encounter “we are never, ever the same.” It’s up to us to determine if we will use that change to move someone else’s soul to dance.

You Can’t Go Home Again or Can You?

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Marshall Point Lighthouse, Port Clyde, Maine

I confess I’ve never read the book You Can’t Go Home Again but the phrase itself has taken on a life of its own in our everyday language. How often we hear folks say it because they’ve tried to return to a particular place that they once did call home only to find that it just wasn’t what they remembered or hoped it would be.

I recently visited the town I lived in when I was in high school (40 years ago). As I drove through my old neighborhood I was astounded by the new housing developments, although why I would be astounded at this after 40 years is really inexplicable! But as I drove on, I found myself noticing and remembering “that was Johnny’s house, there’s Jeannie’s house and there’s where Frieda lived.” I turned the corner and recognized the house I had lived in (with some improvements over the years but basically the same) and yet it wasn’t home — it was merely a memory. I vaguely remember the childhood homes of some other friends and what I believe their neighborhoods looked like, but I couldn’t have found any of them if I tried. We drove past the high school and some old landmarks, and while I recognized a few of these and some of the street names, I wouldn’t be able to find my way around at all.

I’ve had the pleasure of reconnecting with a few of my old friends from those days through FB but my memory isn’t good so I’ll see the names and faces of others from my class but the names are from so long ago and the faces have changed over these 40 years. Some I recognize while others are only vaguely familiar, and while many of them remember each other, I suspect many would not remember me. They had gone through grade school together and grew up in town sharing the memories of childhood into their teen years and beyond. Many have stayed or moved just a short distance, maintaining strong ties to the community of their youth. I was just a temporary/passing acquaintance for most as a shy girl who had moved in and out in just 4 short years.

Our high school days were a different world. We didn’t discuss politics; we weren’t talking about multiculturalism or justice issues; there was an underpinning of racism, of classism and of sexism that weren’t talked about much and we certainly didn’t discuss sexuality. We were just kids — learning to drive, perhaps partying a bit too much, struggling with school work (or not), cheering on our sports teams, working part-time jobs and/or volunteering. It wasn’t idyllic like the nostalgia of the 1950s, we weren’t immune to suffering — we saw some of our friends become teenage mothers and we buried a few of our classmates, others suffered life-altering injuries, and, often unbeknownst to us, others were facing problems we couldn’t even imagine. As our lives changed we didn’t know who we would become or if we’d want to know the adults our friends would become.

Reconnecting after all these years we find that we may not have as much in common as we once thought. We’ve become Republicans, Democrats and Independents; pro-choice and pro-life; gun supporters and gun control supporters; gay, straight, bisexual and transgender; Christian, Muslim, Jew and atheist; the lists can go on and on. But social media has opened up the world to us in ways we wouldn’t have dreamed possible. We can reconnect despite our differences, and the distance social media affords allows us a space to express our opinions, disagree and still be “friends.”

While I was traveling I didn’t get much chance to meet up with folks I had known in high school except for the three days I was blessed to spend with one very dear friend. When we were girls in high school we likely didn’t know who we would become ourselves, much less who the other would become. And yet, on some level we did know who we were in our hearts, how that would inspire us to become who we are today and that our kindred spirits would recognize each other even if our eyes did not.

“You can’t go home again” — the words resounded in my head. There was little I recognized about the town where I had spent my youth, it wasn’t home, it was only a dim memory. It seems like a nice town — the population has doubled and the town has been built up beyond recognition — but it isn’t my town. As much as I loved it when I was there, I don’t think it ever really was.

And then there’s another saying we have about home — home is where the heart is. Like I said, it seems like a nice town and I did love it when I was there, but it isn’t where my heart is. If I had to define a place, a location where my heart is, it would have to be mid-coast Maine, a place I never really lived but is somehow home for me. It’s a beautiful, serene place along a rocky coast where I travel whenever I have the chance. It’s also a place where I’ve had some of my deepest spiritual epiphanies. But while this beautiful rocky coast calls to me, it is only a place, an amazingly beautiful one where I can be at one with myself and my surroundings, but nevertheless only a place. Perhaps home isn’t necessarily a place but rather a way of being.

I rather think that home is not so much where the heart is as our hearts are where our home is. Visiting with my friend was a homecoming. Not because I was returning to a place I once called home, but rather because I was coming home to someone/something in my heart. My heart is filled with special people — my wife (who will always be the heart of my heart, the love of my life and my home at all times in all ways); dear friends, near and far, old and new, present or not; family members of all generations, known and not known.

What a joy to know that I can go home again. To know that home is not a place where I have to go to touch those in my heart but rather that by touching those in my heart, I find myself at home. And when I am blessed to see those in my heart face to face, whether we were last together this morning or 40 years ago, our hearts won’t know the span of time — we will know each other and pick up where we left off as if it were only yesterday.

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