Many years ago, fed up with a few friends who tended to be around when they needed something, but not otherwise, I decided to give them a test: I would ask each one for some kind of help and see who came through, and who did not. Those who said Yes, I’d keep around; those who made excuses more than once, I’d drop.
This was put to a serious test one day when my husband had taken a long-distance bike ride up Mt. Tamalpais, across the Bay in Marin County, and I got a call from a hospital with the news that his bike had slipped on scree coming down the mountainside and he was in a local hospital with three broken ribs. The nurse who called suggested I get there as soon as possible.
But he had our car! What to do?
Well, call on the friends who owed me, for starters.
The first mumbled something about a cake baking in the oven; the second used the opportunity to rant about her mother and the third, who lived across the Bay himself, said “I’ll be right there!” And he was, in record time, and right on to the hospital where my husband lay bruised and broken on a hospital bed too short for his six-foot-five frame!
This erstwhile difficult friend, a wonderful musician who tended towards more self-absorption than I normally had patience for, came through for me now with tender care. He insisted I spend the night, even playing his flute to help me sleep, and in the morning we fetched my abandoned car at the foot of the mountain, got to the hospital early, spent the morning with Herb and then he followed me back across the Bay to make sure I got home safely.
It was a first, and our friendship thrived after that. I love it when generosity takes me by surprise!
So these days I think a lot about the reality of our connections across the lines of class and race versus the assumptions of social separation—like the families of Juliet and Romeo harboring an old grudge and losing their kids in the process; or the British barging into India and taking over, caste system and all—as if they had a right to.
In fact, India was where I first met this musician years before.
And I think about connections, the links between everything down to the invisible shivers of energy that appear and disappear constantly, creating an ever-changing universe that includes you and me and all our ancestors and all our progeny to the end of time; and the earth and the changing skies and every creature ever to have lived on land or sea, that we call by many names, and then fight over who gets it right!
It is the fighting, I believe, that gets it wrong, by definition.
What we call God, I wager, is the whole thing on every level dancing this fandango together through Time and beyond, morphing into forms unimaginable, back and forth, linking up and changing partners in a constantly changing and constantly recognizable dance of many colors and forms, purposes and nations, genders and personalities, sizes and shapes, some with tails and some with claws, some air breathing and others at home in the sea all connected by an atmosphere that contains us all even as we change our shapes and lives and fall in love left and right with one another in this all-consuming dance upon our green-green planet that, amazingly enough, is neither the only one in the universe, nor the most enlightened!
And Eros is built right into it, setting the beat, a chemical reaction within what we call God and experience as astonished delight, an ecstatic drowning in golden gladness ever so much bigger than ourselves.
It is divinity itself, this Love beyond imagining, this gladness in the ability to draw breath amongst the green boughs of trees without even thinking about it, this magic of not being alone in the Universe.
It is Spring now, and yes, the Fascists are up to their fearful horrors, and the waters are polluted and we humans are afraid for our lives but there is a bigger picture that we live in, and the sooner we take that in, the faster we can help the horrors morph and dissolve.
Oh, you thought otherwise? That we are IT, all there is, and the horrors are unstoppable?
Personally, I think not…
Not by a longshot.
I suspect it all depends upon how you read the signs…