I sit on the deck of my writing studio as I write this post. It is June 17 and I have been patiently waiting… and waiting… for the journal to arrive. Each day I walk the flagstone path from my studio to my farm-mates’ house and peek inside to see if there are any brown paper packages that look like a journal might be inside.
The reason the journal has not yet arrived is because of a postal strike here in Canada. Still it’s Ariana’s birthday, and I wanted to wish her a Happy and Hopeful day by sharing our journey into friendship over the past year and half.
I wouldn’t even be waiting, if it weren’t for Ariana, whose marvelous idea it was to gather us all together for this around-the-world journal journey.
As I write these words a hummingbird with exquisite turquoise and red colouring approaches and hovers just inches above the screen. Turning its tiny body this way and that as it surveys my activity, I wonder at its movement, the sharp beauty of its beak and the music of its beating wings. In the Medicine Cards, hummingbird is the symbol for joy. That is how I feel as I take this time to honour our friend and sister journal(h)er Ariana.
I met Ariana when she still lived on Prince Edward Island. I was presenting poetry from my doctoral dissertation at an academic symposium in Charlottetown in October 2009. Ariana came to the conference to meet, watch and listen to other poets. She also shared some of her poetry. At the open mike on the last evening of the 3-day conference, Ariana asked me to share the reading of a poem of hers that had two “voices”. What an omen. We had just met and were already collaborating.
I took the photo below on the morning I was leaving back for BC. Ariana and I went out to this quaint cafe (whose name I forget) and talked for hours about our lives, our loves, and our dreams for the future including where she might land next and how I would turn my PhD into meaningful work.
We stayed in “email” touch for a while and then life got busy. I finished my dissertation and graduated. Ariana left PEI, helped her parents move houses and eventually moved in with them in Sacramento.
A black and yellow honey bee just landed on my hand, rubbing its front legs up against its head as if brushing its hair. I felt afraid it might sting me. Still I let it stay, revelling in its presence on my skin.
Last fall, as I began to consider more definite ways of sharing my work with others, it was Ariana who convinced me to create an online space where I could post the “gates of loving inquiry” and have women respond to them and become a part of a collaborative process. “Finding our Way to Work” was born through that support and networking. She sent an email to several women she knew who were also in a similar stage of their lives and encouraged them to join me. She also wrote an article for me to use to promote my work.
For three months the site budded and blossomed. Then I went away to a meditation retreat for a month, at a retreat centre a couple of hours away from Ariana’s new home. Knowing that I was going to see her again at the end helped me endure the 30 days of silence and intense inner work.
Our three days together were a blast. Blissful and words-full, we visited a few of her favourite cafes in Sacramento and San Francisco, including Samovar (where the photo was taken below). We also walked and talked, wrote and read to each other, and took a day trip to Napa Valley where we bought the matching aviator sunglasses and ate a delicious lunch at another place whose name I forget!
Since returning from that glorious time together, Ariana and I have been writing together weekly on Skype. We take lots of time to write on our own, after checking in on the events and resulting spiritual lessons of the week. Then we read each other our words, and offer feedback.
I treasure the connection that we have nurtured over the past year and a half. I have such deep respect and love for her. I love her smile, her thoughtful presence, online and in person, her compassion for others, her willingness to play and keep coming back for more. I love her loyalty to her friends and her concern for people near and far who have undergone adversity. Ariana is a champion for people. She believes in them and their dignity, and resilience. She doesn’t judge others but praises their courage and strengths. Ariana sees the exceptional in others because she herself is exceptional.
I invite each of you to contemplate and share your “love” for Ariana today.
Happy Birthday, Ariana. May the gods and goddesses of creativity, prosperity and beauty be with you today and every day. May your life be filled with love and joy and all that which you offer so generously to others.
With abundant affection,