I was with 15 of my college friends this weekend. This was our sixth annual weekend together, and women travelled from as far away as London and San Francisco to meet on the east coast. It was, as I knew it would be, magical. I’ve written about this group of women and this weekend in particular several times before:
These women are my safe place, my native speakers, the friends who have known me since I was becoming who I am. They were my bridesmaids and are the godmothers of my children, they have known my husband basically as long as I have, they know the title of my senior thesis, the embarrassing crush I had freshman year, and the lyrics to lots of Indigo Girls and Toad the Wet Sprocket songs. They possess the only known photograph taken of me smoking a cigarette and (maybe hazy) memories of experiences like eating club bicker, the Nude Olympics, and lots of robo-pound games.
We are all mothers, which is something that makes me deeply happy and extraordinarily grateful. Together the 16 of us have 34 children, ranging in age from 13 to 2 months. There’s no question that rain has fallen into many of our lives. And more and more, our visits together feel like brief pools of golden light, oases of love in lives full of obligations and joys. Increasingly I find myself able to surrender to these moments, to the fact that while life doesn’t stop, it can wait. Friendship is made of attention, as I mused last year, and this weekend we were the focus of each others’. These women, and the long years of history and loyalty we have to one another, are in many ways a mystery that I will never comprehend. We cannot understand the heart of another, no matter how we try. I know this now, and I’m no longer trying to. Instead I’m releasing myself to the unknown, letting it hold me up, bowing in gratitude for what is essential to my life even as I recognize how little I understand it.
The words of an online friend ran through my mind all weekend. I read Rudri Patel’s gloriously beautiful post, Recognizing the Vastness, before I went last week. I was deeply moved by her acknowledgement of the power of our attention, of the active choice that is celebrating what is instead of languishing in what is not, and of the decision to let the mystery be unknown. Rudri talks about how the sky has “become a compass and each time when I look up there is a new kind of welcome, a serenade of the twists of what I recognize and what is wholly uncertain. The accompanying feeling is one that I don’t understand entirely, but recognize as an epiphany of some kind. I am not meant to comprehend the mystery, but sink into appreciation, instead of understanding the details.”
It strikes me that this mystery lives equally in the sky and in the faces of my friends, in their familiar handwriting and the familiar stories we laugh over together, in the blue eyes of my brand-new goddaughter (the daughter of Whit’s godmother) and in the ease with which we fall back into each other’s company. Big and small, people and nature, laughter and tears. All of it.
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