Saturday, 5 November 2016

Companions

We have not spoken in months. He posts a comment and I see that we're still at it, keeping pace; keeping, almost exactly, the same step in what we are thinking and even what we are reading.

We both laugh aloud at the unexpected pleasure of seeing each other.  She tells me she's reading Dylan Thomas; I am reading Malcolm Guite but the poems which have pulled us both up short cover the same ground. Another one added to our long list of synchronicities.

I read his news from the other side of the world. The wisdom he gives to others answers my own question for the day. I notice that the issues in his Buddhist community are the same ones wracking my Christian one.

There is no need to ask, for I know what she will want, but I do anyway, just for the reassuring sound of her voice. She makes a joke which renders me helpless with laughter but which I doubt any other person would notice. We plan, with unspoken agreement, the day ahead.

There is a trajectory to my life; a pattern which I see in retrospect more clearly than in prospect. I know this line when I am diligent in making it clear to myself; which is when I take the time every morning and every afternoon to do the simple, but not easy, task of sitting still for long enough to abandon all questions and all attempts to find the pattern. I am not the only one who is following this long arc. I have companions: those with whom I break spiritual and emotional bread. And, as often as not, the edible kind as well.

Companions are discovered - I don't have to seek them out. New companions appear often, Unexpectedly, and in the most surprising places, but the ones who speak with greatest clarity into my soul are those with whom I have been walking for many years.

An ancient metaphor: As I walk up my assigned path on the mountain others are walking also, on their own paths. As I draw closer and closer to the top, the paths of others get closer to mine. As long as we keep following our path; as long as we are moving towards the goal set for us, we will naturally draw closer to each other.

Companionship is one of the ways in which the path makes itself known. As we work out our shared life, especially in those relationships which time or birth or commitment have established as unbreakable, my companion and I are doing spiritual work. But, always, the path we are each walking leads to something far greater than each other, and if the fascination of our togetherness takes over our attention we will begin to meander and, ironically, end us further apart.

Or, another metaphor. When we walk the labyrinth we take, each of us, the same twisting convoluted path towards the centre.
At various points in our path we find others who are walking in parallel with us. At other times we find other travellers who appear to be close, but who are actually far from us or even outside of the labyrinth altogether: their connection is illusory and temporary. With those on the path with us, we draw close, and pull away and draw close again. We recognise each other's journeying and rejoice in our community, but will find that deep companionship which is one of our heart's great desires only in the centre.

Or another metaphor. Or perhaps it is a sacrament. On the Camino, of the thousands who start the path with me there are a few, a dozen at most with whom the bonds of the road become deep and firm. These are the ones with whom I share bread and drink wine. These are the ones with whom, night after night I share a roof and day after day I share the path and the sky. We find each other because we walk at the same pace, and like the same kinds of stopping places, and eat the same kinds of food. Mostly, perhaps, because we instinctively recognise that we are carrying the same kinds of burdens.
Camino del Norte. Companions on The Path of Miracles. 
French, Italian, German, Kiwi, French, Spanish and 
another Kiwi pressing the shutter button. 
No common language, but deep understanding and acceptance



No comments: