To know and be known

I woke in my own bed this morning after almost a week in Los Angeles. I went to sleep with visions of birds of paradise, bougainvillea, roses, lemon and orange trees, the sea ride to Catalina Island, a whale’s blowhole spouting and breaking into mist alongside the ferry and dolphins playing in the wake, the memory of snow-capped mountains across the water in the distance.

Suzanne walking up the trail toward St. Aidan's this morning. Photo by Sr. Catherine Grace CHS

But as soon as I woke up I was anxious to see spring’s progress here on the farm. So I took a tour with my first cup of coffee. The clumps of daffodils Bill and I planted along the path to St. Cuthbert’s are in full bloom, finally. In the kitchen garden the tulips survived the deer, and I can see that last year’s perennials spread happily. The exuberant tares mingle with the wheat and I’ve lost a week of garden work. “Come to the Garden” is a kind of prayer journal, and I see before me many many hours of prayer on my knees digging in the earth. 

During the two days on Catalina I felt more than usually disrupted by travelling (and still exhausted by Holy Week). On the ferry ride back to the mainland I finally remembered to pray. I absented myself quietly from my friends to watch the sun set. A wordless chant inventing itself playfully wound around and over and under the drone of the ferry engine. Beginning with the phos hilaron for the evening star, the prayer prayed itself as the horizon deepened to the color of a sweet pulp of a blood-orange and stars appeared in a velvet-black sky and the occasional spray of salt water slapped my face.

Our high school friend Dave arranged the two day Catalina trip in exchange for piano-tuning. A perfect rendezvous for the Old Ladies, as we have called ourselves since the age of 18 when we formed the club as we went off to college and careers and new families. We three women have been friends since seventh grade, and somehow we manage to meet almost every year despite one of us living in France and having lived all over the globe, and two of us bearing more children than is decent. We’re turning 60 this coming year. We know each other longer than husbands, children, long-term colleagues.

This year’s Old Lady Club meeting tasted like a rare, fine aged wine indeed. Oh, how I treasure these friendships from childhood!  Oh, to be known and loved though life’s tragedies, difficulties, mistakes, transgressions, risks! On this visit together we welcomed a new little baby and brought together several generations of OLC family and friends for a party.

On the journey home I wrote some autobiographical sketches. Details forgotten, perspectives lost. I think my continual longing for divine encounter illuminates my meetings with old friends. I want to know and be known. Perhaps the search for intimacy is the one persistent, magnetic thread at the heart of all I’ve striven for throughout my life, attracting that which is both painful and transcendent.

Now I’ve got to get to the never-ending weeds, dig out some overrunning mint, and plant the new perennials waiting in the pots at the corner of the garden.

One Response to “To know and be known”

  1. claire Says:

    Perhaps the search for intimacy is the one persistent, magnetic thread at the heart of all I’ve striven for throughout my life, attracting that which is both painful and transcendent.

    Oh, I can very much recognize this. :-)))

    I will soon be returning to my own garden, in a small French village, next to the border with Geneva. I have been away for five months so much work is awaiting me there.
    But working on my knees with my hands in the earth is a great way to encounter the ineffable, I find.

    Thank you for sharing this some of your journey.


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