The Power of Friendship

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fresh-baked biscuits
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me by the hen house
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the heart of the rhubarb in full bloom
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even the eggs look luscious
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lavender, so fragrant, so beautiful
Iris Lee Underwood
Iris Lee Underwood
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have a seat in the sun
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with a carpet of pine needles, I could write here forever

Yesterday, my car ambled over highway and paved road, gravel road and backwoods, until I arrived at Iris’ house.

Iris. A writer friend I met many years ago and haven’t seen in a while, but with whom I reconnected over email and then in person. Her beautiful house on acreage in bright sun and blue sky, where she devoted a decade to growing lavender and welcoming the community to harvest it.

Now, her property is quiet except for the call of birds and whisk of wind. Asparagus spears itself high from the soil, in purple and green, tall stalks waiting for the picking. Rhubarb flowers and blooms in abundance. The chickens peck and talk, giving eggs for the morning.

In the kitchen, we spoke of family and faith, of words on the page, of enlightenment. Of peace and prosperity. Of not needing much except for love.

Iris turned the herb-dotted eggs in the pan, grated cheese and diced tomato for the omelet. Biscuits hot from the oven on the cookie sheet, later slathered with soft butter and rhubarb compote. A jar of compote in a paper bag for me to take home.

I spent a full morning walking her hills and talking with my friend in the quiet. The poetry of the moment, unfolding. I gave her my book, she gave me asparagus and rhubarb grown with love to nourish my family.

The day was just that – filled with the nourishment of friendship and time and simplicity, helping one another, sharing love.

This is the joy of my life: that I can take a day to reconnect with a friend and talk about words. That we can plan to write together on a Monday night and sift through sentences and lines in hopes of giving greater meaning to the world.

Last night, I unfolded the print-out of my friend’s newspaper column on rhubarb to lay on my kitchen counter. My son ambled over and, drawn in by the words, read this beautiful flow of story, heartfelt and enfolding. “Nice,” he said.

At 13, noticing that some things are worth stopping to notice.

I don’t remember how I first met Iris. I wrote about her lavender farm for national magazines and brought my small children many years ago to harvest lavender.

Even then, I envied the simplicity of her life, angled to one day live off a gravel road, under cover of tall, old trees.

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my summer accommodations?

But no life is perfect, as we learn when we stop to listen. Mine is enviable for others, theirs for me. A friend shared a story the other day of a woman watching another school mother and commenting, “She really has it all, doesn’t she?”

You never truly know what hides behind walls and doors. And you never know what joy actually lives in your own heart.

When we compare, we fragment our souls. A wise and trusted friend taught me that and this important lesson lives on my desktop, grabbing my eye every day.

When we compare, we fragment our souls.

We have but one journey in this life and it is our own to explore. What someone else is called to do is not our path. Whether they are thinner, wealthier, seemingly happier, have better hair, none of that matters. All that matters is now, the moment I am in, and only me, alone in my own power, basking in the sunlight of friendship that is effervescent.

that's what it is, to spend a morning with my poetic friend
that’s what it is, to spend a morning with my poetic friend

Last night, my older two children bickered at me and at each other. I had a bad day, one said, and then the other concurred. After school, riding home in the sunny afternoon, all I heard was how terrible it was.

But was it?

Was that giving power to moments that had already passed? Of course. We are raised in a culture of dissatisfaction, of wanting more even when we can’t name it.

Live for today. Like today. Notice the moment you’re in instead of clamoring for some gone by or yet to be born.

This is the only thing that counts.

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