It is hard for me to find the words to introduce my friend Hope to you. I've known her longer than just about anyone, and we have been friends through the difficult and the wondrous. We are truly friends of the soul. She also writes fiction that makes me feel like I know her characters. It's an honor to share her words with you today.
I float in the essence of life. My mind surfs over facts and figures and finds its home in mood and vibe. When I get fearful, I know I’ve trespassed into the land of absolutes (it happens more than I’d like).
Many months ago, I stood in the center of a heart-shaped labyrinth in New Mexico. I took in the lavender and pale blue tones of the horizon, and with a lump in my throat I filled my prayer pendant necklace with the red, soft dirt. I placed it over my heart.
And I renewed my vows with mystery.
As a shy, young girl, I made my way to the perimeter where I could observe and take in the feel of what was going on. I turned to the safe space of journals and prayer to make sense of life. As I got older, I was more engaged with the world. But I frequently had to grab bits of experiences to pull them apart, work them out later, like stashed pieces of taffy.
Because I make my home in the interior, I wait until I feel a nudge to take a next step. It leads to what I call “wandering with a destination.” Not long ago I was stressed about deadlines. My body told me to pack up the car and head to the coast to work without distraction. As I drove with my music cranked, the trinity of my mind, body, and spirit decided against the venture. My inner workings could not “see” me at the coast that day.
One hour into the trek, I took an early exit and backtracked home. A loss? Nope. During that drive time, I mentally resolved my work obstacles and ideas were free-flowing the moment I got off the freeway. I love it when that happens.
When I’m around people who capably maneuver through finite details and data, I wonder how I survive at all. And lately, I worry that I’m wandering without a destination. But I’m thankful to be an essence-dweller because I meet the coolest residents there, like Cara, our fab host of de (tales). Cara is one of those rare folks who absorbs information and then poetically processes the depths of wonder.
A long time ago, she followed the nudge to email me after reading one of my novels. Our life circumstances didn’t have a lot of similarities, but our spirits did. Kindred from the get-go.
During our many years of pen pal communication, we’ve only met in person once (it involved wine, chocolate, and talking till 2:00 a.m.)…but we meet often in spirit. I’ve taken her to the desert with me. She’s packed me along to Europe. We’ve included one another for concert outings (Over the Rhine, of course), and we’ve met in the dark to see by the light of the other’s encouraging words. She visits my work cubicle on Monday mornings, and I’ve been beside her in coffee shops as she weighed choices. We laugh as we text one another to “go meet in the closet” during the day to share the holy sacraments of friendship and faith.
That’s the miracle of experiencing Spirit beyond the boundaries of the concrete—there’s plenty of room to carry people and be carried by them.
In this birthday month of you dear Cara, I want to say thank you for being a soul friend. For meandering through mystery with grace (and with Hope) and for expressing the treasure and the struggle of faith with so many others. You inspire me to keep my desert vow.
In the words of ee cummings, “I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart).” And it’s a privilege.
Hope Lyda is a writer, substantive editor, spiritual director, and a dreamer. If you get the nudge, you can look for her on facebook or www.hopelyda.com.