In The Book of Awakening, Mark Nepo writes in his message for today, May 18th, “Honest friends are doorways to our souls, and loving friends are the grasses that soften the world.” And that deeply resonated for me today, for with all that has been happening in my world over these past few weeks, it has been the friends in my life that have been there to support me. They are the ones for whom I am grateful.

Even when I have not been able to move beyond my questions and doubt, they have shown up, ready to offer a kind word or to just let me know another human being was thinking of me and caring enough to call or email me. Or to pick up my morning newspaper and deliver it to my door on those days I’ve slept later than usual and wasn’t up in time to do that for them. And in those instances where I was open to reaching out and asking for some kind of support or reassurance that I knew would lead me back into a sense of balance and calm, there was someone there to listen with an open heart and respond with understanding, honesty, and compassion.

Then there are those friends who have risked reaching out and sharing with me and my wife their challenges and fears, offering us the opportunity to rise to the occasion and support them the best we each can, to perhaps be a small blessing in their lives. And I can tell you it is true that we are always blessed when we give of ourselves freely and with our hearts.

So that’s what this blog is all about, the safety and blessings of friendships. To encourage you all to ponder Mark Nepo’s words and take stock of all those people who are in your life. I encourage you to not limit “them” to just family and close friends.

What about those faces you run into at the food market, department store, pharmacy, or your favorite eatery? The ones that greet you with a smile or perhaps sense that you’re dealing with troubling thoughts of your own, and they offer you some extra few words that momentarily pull you out of your concern and bring a smile to your heart, even if they can’t see it because of the mask you’re wearing?

Consider all the blessings that you’ve experienced over the past sixteen months of this COVID19 pandemic. The people who were there for you when you couldn’t get out (or were simply too fearful to expose yourself to the virus none of us really understood until more recently). Unable to now attend church services and other face-to-face gatherings at the clubhouses, those leading such gatherings became familiar with Zoom and set up electronic connections that at least enabled us the opportunity to see and hear some of our friends and interact with them online. And some increased the frequency of their texting, allowing us to feel less isolated. They certainly deserve our gratitude. The question is: Have you made sure to let them know? It’s so easy to slip into taking these gifts for granted, but it’s never too late to tell them.

So that’s my invitation to you: Spend a few minutes with Mark’s words and see if by the time you’re through bringing everyone into your conscious awareness you don’t feel deeply grateful for the life you are living, even if it has its share of challenges. My hunch is those challenges will appear to be much smaller in the scheme of things!

Love & Light, Steven