TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. ABOUT THIS BOOK
II. PROLOGUE: SOUL’S SONG REAWAKENED
“…one day, unexpected and unhoped for, the world we had thought irretrievably lost may be returned to us. In a moment of insight—a sudden opening of the heart—we may glimpse again the mysterious reality we took for granted as children”—and hear our soul sing once again (I. Zaleski)
III. INTRODUCTION: ANATOMY OF AN INNER JOURNEY
Love opened the door; hope kept it open; faith gives me the courage to walk through
COMMITTING TO LOVE: JOURNEY’S BEGINNING
“..it is like being awakened to a dimension of yourself that has been there all this time, flowing like an underground river, although until now it has gone undetected.”(D. Michie)
HARVESTING THE WONDERS: FAIRYTALE COME TRUE
“This is how haloes are seen, by looking up into largeness, by tucking smallness into the field of infinity.” (J. Shea)
UNMAPPED BELIEVING: JOB’S DILEMMA
“En la noche dichosa, en secreto, que nadie me veía ni yo miraba cosa, sin otra luz o guía sino la que en mi corazón ardía” (St. John of the Cross)
On that wondrous night, in secret, when no one saw me nor I saw any thing, with no other light or guide than that which in my heart burned (personal translation)
THREE STEPS FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACK: MOVING TO THE MUSIC
“Life itself—and scripture too—is always three steps forward and two steps backward.” (R. Rohr) “It's a frustrating way to make progress but it's a wonderful way to dance.” (J. Cainer)
SONG UNENDING: AFTER HAPPILY EVER AFTER
“Not knowing the true scale of things, [we] imagine [we] have already arrived when we are just beginning.” (E. Frankel)
CONCLUSION: A POEM, A PRACTICE AND SOME CLOSING THOUGHTS
“We don’t get to heaven; we must become heaven”(I. Zaleski)
This book has a double purpose: to describe an inner journey inspired by deep friendship and to offer that description as a meditative map for others as they travel their own journeys. The various stopping places or way stations on which I reflect trace the path carved out by the song of love, hope and faith sung by my soul and evoked by my renewed friendship.
It all began with reading John O’Donohue’s Anam Cara. The words I read reminded me that I’d once known an anam cara—a beloved friend—such as he described. That remembrance inspired me to call that friend, with whom I’d not been in touch for many years. The joy of my reconnection with my friend—recognized now through the lens of anam cara—reawakened a love, hope and faith long dormant within me.
“We all need such friends who image God’s love and acceptance to us. They give us the courage to risk loving a God we cannot see.”
Recalled by Love’s Gaze
I still remember the visceral sensation of a space opening up in my chest when I first opened myself to my friend’s loving gaze. It happened at one of our first meetings as we embraced in greeting. Though it only lasted a few minutes, I still remember the shift I felt in my heart as I let myself fall back past closed doors and into all the dreams that lay dormant within me. I felt I’d found a long lost beloved home, a reality I had come to believe couldn’t really exist.
In my newly rediscovered friendship, love's gaze—the gaze of Infinite Light and Love—found me, like scripture’s woman at the well, in the heat of day and in the midst of my deepest thirst, trying to draw inanimate water from wells of my own construction. Like Jesus in that story, Infinite Light and Love called me to re-connect with the reality for which I actually thirsted. I reread the familiar story and imagined it as my own story.
Scripture Meditation: The Woman at the Well (John 4: 7-15)
Parched with thirst, I had gone to the well to draw water to sustain me for one more day. It had become a familiar pattern. I was so tired. I wished sometimes that it could be easier, that I didn’t have to go so far during the hottest part of the day. I longed to go with someone but I walked alone, without any real belief that things would change. Then, one day, there was a man at the well. When I got closer I lowered my eyes, never expecting what happened next. He looked straight at me without shame, as no one (not even myself) had in a very long time. I still remember the sudden visceral sensation of a space opening in my chest and literally feeling myself fall past the closed doors behind which I'd shut my true self so long ago.
His gaze stirred memories I’d forgotten were even there, re-membering the parts of myself that for so long had been judged shameful and unacceptable. I felt innocence and trust. These remained whole, buried in my heart’s core, sheltered zealously behind the only barriers it knew how to erect: doubt and fear.
In that moment, I raised my eyes to meet his, and remembered a time when I had not thirsted as I did now. Like the sight of something or someone once fiercely loved and then lost, I felt both joy and pain in the seeing. Intimations of grief intermingled with a joy deeper than any I’d known for a very long time. I was so far from who I had once been, from who I authentically was. My heart’s home seemed so far away and yet so close. I couldn’t help wondering the impossible: could I become whole once more? Could I believe once again what I’d given up believing was ever really true? Could heaven be right here and right now, within my reach? I knew I had to find out.