Tonight, Feb. 23rd, my wife Ruth and I and our oldest daughter’s family re-connected with dear friends we hadn’t seen in 15 years. We are now old friends in two senses of the word “old.” What a thrill for each of us, as we celebrated our mutual vitality, mystical pursuits and accomplishments over the years., all the while observing the sparkle in our eyes.
Ruth and I first met Jere and Regina at a food coop in Greeley, CO in 1974 and, living three blocks apart, soon became fast friends. We had so much in common with one another, and yet had so many differences. Each of us had served as part-time instructors in the psychology department of Aims Community College in Greeley, were pioneers in the holistic health/wellness movement, loved prayer and sacredness, and had some quite wild times with a common, fairly large group of close friends. Yet, we had some very different personalities and skill sets. For example, Jere has a strong mechanical interest and aptitude, accompanied by the patience of a saint; I lack all of those qualities. For many years Regina was admittedly highly competitive, whereas Ruth has always been a minimally-competitive person.
Who would have figured that a former Catholic priest and nun (27 years between them in the clergy) would end up living together (1984 – 1985) as a household in Denver for 20 months with life-long practicing Jews?! However, we were bonded by our non-dogmatic spiritual quest. During the time we lived together, The Denver Post published a full-page feature story with a large photo of us standing together as a “family.” Our seven-year-old daughter Alaina developed a particularly close relationship with Jere, often composing light poetry and playing children’s games together.
As we shared a tasty Chinese-restaurant dinner tonight, all of us marveled that Alaina was now sitting next to her seven-year-old daughter, looking a lot like her Alaina at that age; the years simply melted away! In addition to catching up with each other’s lives, memories and old stories surfaced throughout the evening like circus clowns continually emerging from a small car. One of my peculiar, yet endearing memories involved Jere methodically helping me to figure out the code to open a locked briefcase that I had purchased from a peddler while I was lying on a chiropractic table. Having wrenched my back from playing “Mother May I?” (of all ridiculous things!) with Alaina that day, Jere graciously remained with me while the others enjoyed an Estes Park nature hike.
Similar to our years of living in proximity to one another, the evening flew by and our friends are returning to the Arizona-based intensive spiritual community in which they have lived since the mid 1990’s. Paradoxically, our hearts felt so full and yet so empty at the end of the night. As Shakespeare proclaimed, “Parting is such sweet sorrow!” Yet, we cherish our amazing connection and deep love for each other, which is as pleasurable as a wine connoisseur sipping a pricy bottle of aged wine.