I have a close friend in Bristol who practises meditation and Buddhism. A year ago, she told me that she had been invited on a 3-month ordination in 2022. She told me that after her return, she planned to move to a women’s retreat centre to support the community. Wow, what a life-changing decision! In the first moment there was joy in my heart – I was happy for her to fulfill her dreams and find meaning and purpose in her life. In the next moment I felt sadness for how it might impact our friendship and the question arose, ‘Will I lose a friend who is dear to my heart?’ When she saw my tears, she said, “You know, Gesine, there is this phrase ‘A friend for reason, a friend for a season, a friend for a lifetime’. I believe that we are friends for a lifetime and that we can keep our connection.”
I hadn’t heard this phrase before, and it was relieving for me to hear it at that moment. It helped me to understand that she also valued our friendship and wanted to make sure that we kept our connection. In fact her life-changing decision made it clear that we are friends for a lifetime. We have a mutual interest to continue our friendship and we want to take care of it. With this clarity and mutual understanding I feel safe and can let go of my fear of what changes can bring.
As I write this, my friend is still in Spain on retreat, and will return in two weeks. I imagine that these months of being on a retreat have stimulated an inner journey and have changed something in her in a spiritual way. Wow! Transformational inner change – a choice that is life-changing indeed. And then I notice fear coming up again in me: are we still going to get on with each other? Maybe we have a different understanding of the world now?
As I get in touch with my fear, I allow myself to listen to my thinking with an awareness that this is my story, my thinking. As I continue, I get in touch with my need for safety and trust in myself, that I will manage the situation. I also realise that I care for the connection and friendship independent of what happens on her side. In my reflection I can imagine that if things change, my heart will be open and welcome all feelings and see celebrating and mourning as part of life.
With NVC I feel more open to navigate through life with understanding and compassion. I understand that friendship is significant for me and I love to meet and connect with people, whether it’s for a reason, a season or a lifetime 🙂 . To me, friendship means a mutual relationship based on honesty (even though it can be at times scary), nourishment, support, company, care and respect, and having fun and joy together. What does friendship mean to you?
I changed my life radically when I chose to leave family, friends, home town, and country to live and work in England with Shantigarbha. Looking back, I have an understanding that these life-changing, heart-connected choices bring clarity as to who is a friend for a lifetime. I celebrate that there are some friends who are still walking beside me, and mourn that some are not around me anymore. I’m also grateful to NVC for giving me the tools to live an authentic and full life.
Two opportunities for meeting new people and making friends are coming up. Would you like to join us?
- NVC Community Camp (South-West), 26 July to 2 August, nr. Bath, UK.
- NVC Year Training (Knowing, Living and Sharing NVC), starts 6 October, nr. Hereford, UK.