The Collision Of Souls
To our dear friends, you are the best parts of us.
The “Lord is between you and me forever.”
The day you came beside me to sleep on the floor was Tuesday, July 21st. That was the day my summer burst at the seams. You let me in on the secret of friendship;
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
That night you didn’t see me with your eyes but you saw me with your heart.
To be friends with someone is to see courage where everyone else may see weakness. To be a friend is to see someone who is trying where everyone may see someone who should be better.
It is kind, soft words in a world where they run on short supply and where all you hear are the voices in your head that insist you should not be this way, that you are not good enough, and that the only solution is to keep trying harder, to never allow your weakness to show. But that night on the floor as I cried, you saw me as beautiful still, like the tears were water for a row of lilies to bloom. And you held on to hope for me as I felt my fingers loosen their grip and slip.
We need each other, vulnerable and exposed.
We need floor moments like these in friendship. To hold a mirror with one hand that reveals all the frailties and shortcomings, but to also hold out the other hand ready to go on this journey of healing with you all the way to the Father’s house; no matter how crooked or narrow the Calvary road becomes, all the way to the foot of the Cross – our God at His most vulnerable.
Friendship allows us to see our darkness and the darkness of others as a pathway to know the Father – not a barrier to his love. Perhaps He is not threatened by our darkness, so we no longer need to with each other. Perhaps our bleeding out with those who have earned the right to hear it is the best thing for our hearts – because then we can be filled with new Eucharistic blood.
That night you were a mirror to the parts of myself I spent so long trying to run from and pretend like they weren’t there because I thought they were too much to look at.
There is something to be said when someone is willing to make sense of all you are, your internal wars, your run-down castles, your expanding galaxies and your untamed, untrodden paths. What more do we want than to be seen, to be understood in a continuum where we did not want to understand or see ourselves for fear of what we would uncover? Yet, I tried to push you away, to shut you out with walls of silence and tears, with sitting away from you on the floor. And yet, that night you did not leave, but you chose to stay when there was nothing I could offer you. You chose to fight for a ravaged heart, so you lay on the floor beside me and told me words like streams to my desert soul:
That you love this broken girl.
There is something to be said of the marks people can make on another soul, the fingerprints they leave from where hands ran along the jagged edges.
To be a friend is a lifetime of savouring every sharp point, every rough texture as lost treasure. A lifetime of leaving marks that tell stories of staying together. Staying in summers and in winters too, even when they’ve been too cold. Staying when the birds have sung and the plants have been in bloom and when the garden has run wild with weeds and tall yellow grass. The garden of a soul is not yours alone, it belongs to a man’s friends. For it takes more than a pair of hands to pull out overgrown weeds and plant a row of sunflowers in the space where deep roots of lies spread. And when there is a storm, there is no fear to let the waters rise as you stand in the rain; in time the seeds friendship’s sown will grow.
The secret of friendship sounds a lot like a fight song at times…
As we lie on the cold hardened floor of our lives, wrapped in the thick of darkness’ untidy death grip, I will not let you go. I will choose to see you with my heart and not just my eyes. I will choose to hear your words and your tears, and I will not be afraid to walk down into the garden you call wreckage. I will choose to write lovely all across your back until the lies no longer compare. I will ensure that you remember that “you are dark” always comes with the clause that “you are lovely”. I will bring to your remembrance that even the darkness will not be dark to you (psalm 139:12). I will choose to enter into your sorrow and suffering rather than demand that you deny yourself and enter into my joy. I will choose to fight to understand your every complexity, that I may grow to know and serve you well. And for every moment your heart screams ugly, I will choose to echo the truth right back in, beauty.
Because precious sister, love is a choice, and I will choose to love you, the way Jonathan loved David, the way he loved him as his own soul. I will choose to feast on the precious gift of friendship, where our souls may collide that together we may enter into His rest.
To be seen by you is frightful indeed. To strip off my layers, let you see me raw, let you see me whole frightens me to the core. Yet with your gentleness, all my fears halt to a lie, and I realise that you know me. To be known is to be loved, and you love me so well.
We are pursuers of each other, pursuing to know the depth and height of each other’s heart. I promise to know you. I promise not to laugh at you when you are naked and like Genesis 2:25, we will stand together, naked souls, unashamed. And I will not let my words become a hollow noise, but I will entangle this promise in the actions of my daily life.
Just when I think I have tasted the best of this feast, I realise, joyfully, there is so much more to learn. More knitting, more weaving of souls.
“The resurrection is coming.”
And with those words you fearlessly revelled and embraced my brokenness as the means to victory and wiped away any shame with hands that held me close. The same shame that I used to push you away from coming any closer because I did not believe you deserved to see this mess, you deserved better from a friend and you did not deserve to carry this sadness. Yet you called it an honour. You spoke life, love, truth and beauty into the deafening echo of brokenness.
Because of you, my true friend, I am not a victim of brokenness but rather experiencing redemption through brokenness. On the floor the fear made me want hide away from it. And on that same floor you made the broken beautiful with these words:
Do not be afraid or weakened by your darkness.
To be a friend is to let someone love you the way you would want to love them. To accept you will hurt them and they will be hurt by you whilst never forgetting the commitment you made to sacrifice anything to heal each other.
I will never forget that night on the floor when you came down beside me and met me at my lowest. When you were a picture of how hope does not disappoint because of the love that God has poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. You poured out your love in the broken girl. The girl whose every dry bone screamed “you’re not good enough as you are. You need to be perfect. Don’t give up…otherwise you won’t be perfect.” In your embrace, the dry bones cried “Live!” and the broken girl had a place to let go and belong.
As St. Ambrose says, a place to “know, O beautiful soul, that you are the image of God. Know that you are the glory of God. Know, then, O mortal, your greatness, and be vigilant”. In your arms I found a place of safety. A place other than perfection’s hostage image of all the ways I will never be enough – other than shame’s iron hold and ten-tonne shield. A place other than isolation’s secrecy and muffled silence, until I could see something other than every flaw and imperfection.
We all need help and perspective in learning how to love the broken girl within each one of us. We all need friends to see and celebrate our truest self – the broken girl who is actually more whole than she ever thought because she chose to endure, to be resilient and grow.
When I could not come out of hiding you came to find me. This is the feast of friendship. A halfway home ’till kingdom come. Till we shall feast anew and fully in the blessed kingdom of God.
“What I know about living
is the pain is never just ours.
Every time I hurt I know the wound is an echo,
so I keep listening for the moment the grief becomes a window,
when I can see what I couldn’t see before
through the glass of my most battered dream
I watched a dandelion lose its mind in the wind
and when it did, it scattered a thousand seeds.
So the next time I tell you how easily I come out of my skin
don’t try to put me back in.
Just say, “Here we are” together at the window
aching for it to all get better
but knowing there is a chance
our hearts may have only just skinned their knees,
knowing there is a chance the worst day might still be coming
let me say right now for the record,
I’m still gonna be here
asking this world to dance,
even if it keeps stepping on my holy feet.
You, you stay here with me, okay?
You stay here with me.
Raising your bite against the bitter dark,
your bright longing,
your brilliant fists of loss.
Friend, if the only thing we have to gain in staying is each other,
my god that is plenty
my god that is enough
my god that is so so much for the light to give
each of us at each other’s backs
whispering over and over and over,
“Live. Live. Live.”
Co-written with Makrina.