Tonight we had the most wonderful evening, and I sit here filled with the warmth of the companionship we experienced. I have been in a bit of a funk, as you all have likely discerned from my writing, brought on by the bleak winter we have nestled around us this year, and no doubt by the suspension of forward movement of our adoption plans. It is far more likely I can attribute my current state of mind to the latter rather than the former.
When the darkness lifts from your soul, even if the depression was vague or mild, it is as if you can suddenly feel open hearted again, that you are capable of inviting love inward and projecting it outward. These past few weeks, really since just before Christmas, I have felt dulled a bit in that sense, and have been merely putting one foot in front of the other to make it to the next day. Our illness and subsequent events really knocked us for a loop, and it seemed I was unable to get back on track, emotionally speaking.
We were invited to a small dinner party tonight (That phrase sounds pretentious to me, as I don't percieve us as "dinner party" people, but for lack of a better term...) and there were 10 of us in attendance, all of whom are members of our church, with Dominick and I being the youngest of the group, and the majority old enough to be our mothers and fathers. Let's just say that due to the age differences, an outsider might tend to think that was not an evening to be looking forward to if one was looking for a "sit down" with one's contemporaries.
Yet here, among so many whose life journeys have carried them far from any path I have walked, I felt so comfortable, so accepted, and yes...so loved. Now mind you, these are not necessarily our closest friends, you know...the ones with whom you share much in common and the ones to whom you pour out your greatest fears and hearts desires. It brings to mind the image of the rings of a tree sawn in two, that when examined can help you determine the age of that stately oak or knotty pine. The tight cluster of rings at the center represent those very dearest of friends who are closest to our hearts, and as your eye carries further towards the outside bark you find the acquaintances who are only "skin deep", not necessarily "heart deep". The friends we gathered with tonight were those that were just outside that closely tied core of rings, they are the ones that we see weekly at church and know bits and pieces of their personal lives and yet much of their history remains a mystery to us, and it is doled out in dribs and drabs through conversations held over coffee hour after church or via a casual mention during a Committee Meeting. These are the friends you wished you had the time to get to know better, the ones who intrigue you on some level and yet the lack of shared opportunity because of different life stages halts further exploration of the friendship.
The conversation flowed easily, the laughter was shared throughout the evening, and as I looked around the table at this wonderful eclectic group we were a part of I quite literally felt the somber part of me begin to gently thaw, and by the end of the evening as we walked to our car I discovered that spring just may have returned to my soul. I hope so, I have missed it.
Within this tiny circle this evening, I felt appreciated and respected for who I am, regardless of my lack of education amongst a very bright, very well educated group. I was offered compliments and encouragement about my writing, and was given the warmest of hugs from everyone as we left early to collect the boys. I left with a feeling of belonging, and isn't that one of the best feelings of all? Sitting at the table looking into the faces of each of these extraordinary people, I saw friendships that are growing closer, and a wealth of intellectual capital locked in the minds of each individual present. I have never been one to limit my friendships only to those who are within a certain age group, or are in the same life stage as I am. Thankfully, that has opened doors to some of the most fulfilling relationships I could ever ask for, be it with a young friend in their early teens, or a "seasoned" citizen in their 70's. They are all my peers, and they all have something to offer, something to learn from. This evening was one of the best examples of that, and that love can often come from unexpected places as well.
I hope that tomorrow brings as much sunshine as today did, that spring has come to stay in my heart.