The closer I get to leaving the country for ten months, the more I find myself wanting or needing to spend time with friends who remind me by simple reassuring presence that they will still be here, that I will not be forgotten, that words will be read and responded to and thoughts/prayers sent forth, even when I am far away.
This is something I know...I know that friends will do this. I know things might not be the same when I return because of the passage of time and what happens in each of our lives between now and the next time we are together. But, I know in whatever way that I will not be forgotten and will not forget them. Friends do not bind one another to a fixed way of being, but rather celebrate the discovery of fullness, I think. Friends say "Go. Discover. Reveal. Stretch. I will be within reach when you return."
What I am rediscovering as I prepare for the journey is the import of the more tangible knowing that comes in conversation, time spent, emails exchanged, hugs given and received. A friend came to visit this past weekend and we had a grand time in this City simply doing things we both enjoyed doing--but doing them together. Thoughtful conversation, laughter, writing together, reading what the other had written, appreciating the colossal reading room of the New York Public Library, strolls in parks... The ease and familiarity of our adventures was itself a gift. In that is the freedom, somehow, to go. Part of the joy of going is knowing that there are people who will each in her/his own way, want to know of the discovery and revelation. Some will not want to know and that will be hard. Freedom has its expense.
It is the irony that gets me every time. It is in feeling the bonds that draw me to others that the freedom to go elsewhere and do likewise is born.
Pablo Neruda said, "it is the sacred obligation of the poet to leave and to return."
Jesus said, "Come. Follow."
I say, "Okay."