If we are going to be kind, let it be out of simple generosity, not because we fear guilt or retribution.
- J.M. Coetzee
I ran into a childhood friend today, one I haven’t seen in about 20 years.
We were in the same class from kindergarten through ninth grade, played on soccer teams together, visited each other’s homes often for play dates. We spent much of the early part of our lives together.
Today we had time to catch up and I am so grateful for that. She shared with me a great deal about herself, her family and the challenging yet gratifying journey she has been on to feel whole as a person, physically, emotionally and spiritually. My take is that she has done a tremendous amount of personal work to be where she is today. I am so pleased for her.
This past week our minister shared the story of the woman at the well. He asked the congregation to think about our dearest friends, those for whom we feel a connection without judgment, strain or competition. A connection that is filled with unconditional love, respect and appreciation, where we can be ourselves completely. Our minister wanted us to consider how those values tied in with Jesus, who showed such concern, love and acceptance for the woman at the well.
I sat in my pew thinking about my friends who truly know me—my good and my not-so-good points, my strengths and my weaknesses, my insecurities and my accomplishments. I treasure these deep connections found in my richest friendships and do my best to nurture them. There are other relationships that might not run so deep, or be so transparent, yet give us energy, direction, focus, strength, pause or simply a good feeling. For example, the connections we have with the mail carrier, the UPS man, an acquaintance at the gym, a new friend from work. These lighter connections matter too. They remind us that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. Without both of these kinds of connections, we can feel less rooted in our daily lives, less a part of our world around us.
We hope that you feel a connection to Guideposts and to the outreach ministries and inspirational messages we offer. We are grateful for the connection we feel to you. We are all in this together, trying to enrich lives and keep connected through our mission of providing hope, encouragement and inspiration to others.
Back to my friend this morning... Our chance meeting reminded me of the power of a long-ago connection. Even though we hadn’t seen each other in 20 years, the fact that we knew each other so well as kids allowed us to reconnect deeply today.
May we be mindful and grateful for the connections in our lives and how each and every one contributes to us feeling a part of something bigger than ourselves. We all need this. We all deserve this. This was the gift Jesus gave to the woman at the well.
Oh, and talk about feeling a connection! Last week an envelope arrived at my home with a homemade bumper sticker in it, from someone who’d read my last blog. Thank you to the thoughtful and creative person who gave me this bumper sticker. What a great message to live by! I’m grateful for our connection.
Katheryn (Katie) Allen Berlandi is the seventh of Guideposts cofounders Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Ruth Stafford Peale’s eight grandchildren. She is a clinical social worker with a private practice focusing on children, adolescents and families, and a consultant for Guideposts and the Guideposts Foundation. Katie lives in a small town in Connecticut with her husband, two daughters and son.