Friday, May 4, 2012

To a friend who is estranged

Dear Friend,

Do you remember the stories I used to tell as we were drifting off to sleep? You would ask for tales about "Joyous Garde," our imaginary house hidden in the mountains.  We populated the rooms with our few favorite people, and I would tell of idyllic hikes, secret passages, and many other mild adventures. That ramshackle daydream still comes to mind whenever I think of you.

Those were children's tales, and I could be petulant like a child, too, when things didn't go my way. You taught me so much about what it means to be a generous, just, and affectionate friend, and eventually I realized Joyous Garde's fault: it was never built to house only four or five favorites, hidden away and self-satisfied.  The path should have been more clearly marked, the table set with an extra chair for pilgrims and wanderers and runaways.  As I've grown up, I've learned to mark the trail with colored pennants and well-lettered signs. As spring turns to summer, I've thrown all the windows open.  A crowd has gathered on the front porch, and someone is coaxing a hymn from the old piano in the front room.  The rooms are full, the meal ready.

But during this season--with its fierce storms and brilliant mornings--you have left Joyous Garde. After two years of silence I am still baffled. I tell myself that you are on a pilgrimage through the desert, with no chance to send messages home.  That is a happy illusion, a heart-suture.  There are so many here I would have you meet: Joyous Garde has become a hostel, studio, library, and cathedral.  We are content, and yet I hope: I hope that someday soon you'll be the welcome stranger who steps through our open doors.

Ever yours,

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