Wednesday, November 24, 2010

On kindreds and "âmes soeurs"... reflections in Barcelona...

This past weekend I traveled to Barcelona to reunite with two of my dearest friends from my first year abroad, Felipe Welsch and Carina Haldenwanger.  It had been eight years since I had seen Felipe and four years since I had seen Carina (we reunited in Morocco a while back and had also seen each other in Montpellier before that...).  In any case, the point of the story is, that while "things" change--we've all moved on in our lives, moved around, worked different jobs... and they even got married (to each other!)--some things just never change.  It was such a joy to be in their presence again... we had lots to catch up on, and then there were also the contented, comfortable silences born of just being together.  The weekend really wasn't about touring the city too much (Carina and I had done that when we came to Barcelona the first time when we were living in Montpellier :)), though we did some... it was lovely to see the Mediterranean and enjoy the energy of a city by the ocean.  It is amazing what a temperate climate can do for the soul!  It was more about enjoying each other's company (and lots of great food!) and talking about things that matter, as we always did before.

It called to mind a passage I read in Khalil Gibran's The Prophet, which I sent to my kindreds before I left Madison...

"And a youth said, Speak to us of Friendship. 
And he answered, saying:
Your friend is your needs answered. 
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving. 
And he is your board and your fireside. 
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace. 

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay." 
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed. 
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.

And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit. 
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught. 

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also. 
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill? 
Seek him always with hours to live. 
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness. 
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. 
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed."

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches (tomorrow!), I'm thankful for the friends in my life to whom I give my best and who give me their best in return... for the friends who enrich my life with meaning and are willing to ponder the important questions with me (even if they don't necessarily have the answers)... for the friends I am sad to leave but whom I know are never far from my heart... for the new friends I have discovered who make me feel at home... for the friends I know I will find again, and it will be just the same as always.  What a wonderful gift!

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