I recently gave a talk about friendship to the Thursday morning Women’s Group at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. The people we surround ourselves with have an enormous influence on how we feel about ourselves as well as the choices we make in life. I know this personally in my own life and I see it all around me. We often see this with parents worrying who their children socialize with. It’s understandable when one thinks about the power of our peers, regardless of our age.
Last week, I saw A New Color, a documentary about Edythe Boone, an artist, educator and great-grandmother that is the muralist behind the famous Women’s Building in the Mission district of San Francisco. It’s hard to believe Edy is a senior citizen as she starts her day with sit-ups before hopping on scaffolding to paint a mural. When crack-cocaine hit Harlem, Edy, knowing the power of our peers, worried about the impact on her children and she moved her family to Berkeley, California. At 77, Edy continues to be a dynamic force creating community wherever she goes teaching art to underserved youth and seniors and serving as an activist for racial equality.
Like myself, Edythe seems surrounded by good friends from all walks of life. True friends do not let us off the hook, but at the same time they are there to support us in tough times. By seeing and loving the best in us, they draw it out more fully, just as rain and sunlight nourish a plant. I am reminded of these words from Hafiz…
It Felt Love
How did the rose ever open its heart
And give to this world all its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light
Against its being,
Otherwise, we all remain too frightened.