The earliest recollections of my childhood come to me in images — helping other little girls to care for themselves. Three distinct memories come to mind of wanting to help others — the tall, shoestring blond, gangly girl, who spoke very loud as if she had a frog in her throat and out of turn, in class, where she was constantly teased by other kids. There was the diminutive, cute Hispanic girl I met in Miami Beach while on vacation who could not speak understandable English and I tried to help by showing her how to speak the names of paper money. In addition, the poor farmer’s daughter who wore tattered clothing, her greasy, blond hair stuck to her scalp from infrequent washings. I wanted to let all three of them know that I cared, it did not matter that they were different — so was I.
The mood and flavor of my younger years included a strong yearning to belong, to be included in a group of potential friends who were trustworthy. Peers that did not make fun of each other or other people, fun loving, loyal people who I could open myself to, without the fear of reprisal, without hesitation, pretense or posturing and just share myself, as I was.
Actually, I did find this container of auspicious qualities in one truly independent, beautiful, supportive, artistic and tremendously playful, supportive kindred spirit. We shared parties, shopping, music, poetry reading and memorable moments in summer camp continually finding ways to laugh and hang out with others.
These years were yearning with a desire to connect so deeply that there would be no separation and the lurking worry of isolation would no longer linger in the background.
“Having spiritual friends is not a superficial comfort. It helps free us from a trance of separation so deep that we are often not aware of it. Conscious relationships shine a direct light both on our layered feelings of unworthiness and loneliness, and on the truth of our belonging. We begin to respond more compassionately and actively to the suffering of the world. Our real community, we discover, includes all beings. As we relax and trust this belonging to the web of life, we recognize the one awareness that shines through each being. Our spiritual friends open the way to the inner refuge of unconditional loving presence.” —True Refuge
Today I find many of my spiritual friends through a community of like minded people who are participants in my sangha ( community). These women and men who I have been so fortunate to know have spent committed time from two and a half years to 3 months learning to familiarize themselves with others in a community of fellow mindfulness and Buddhist practitioners who have been practicing non-harming, loving friendliness, good will, generosity and appreciation for each other, themselves and the larger web of life. It is such a gift to experience mutual trust, respect and reciprocity in their presence. May you all have this safety, ease, peacefulness and happiness by living in connection with other sentient beings.