On May 27th, two weeks before Kesner died, I went on a silent retreat to a monastery with my soul friend, Jessie. She had coined that term “soul friend” a few years earlier to describe the type of friendship that meets you in your soul space. A friendship that is non-judgmental, pure and kind, patient and loving.
Jess was my first friend in Seminary and one of the first people in my life to teach me the lesson of unconditional love and how to listen. We had gone through several journey’s together: seminary, relationships (both failed and successful), living in the same building in Trenton, working together with a vulnerable population of women in Trenton, and even a little social justice activism.
On this day in May we were ritualizing a transition into a new beginning. After five years of living so close, Jessie was leaving to move to upstate NewYork to start a new life with her boyfriend Jason. She was also planning to pursue her calling to be a hospital chaplain. I was happy for her but I was very sad for me. Sad to be loosing my day-to-day buddy, with whom I could process life with on a regular basis. I had many awkward random crying moments the week before she left: at work… at Jack’s Wine Sense… at Walmart… on my couch while Kesner was resting his head on my lap - his eyes were closed and one of my tears literally splashed on his forehead – he opened his eyes and looked at me like i was nuts. I was grieving my friend and our closeness.
Kesner worked really hard to try to understand what this impending separation meant to me. At Jessie’s goodbye dinner he shared meaningful reflections about the noticeable impact of our friendship and the regard in which he held it. He even opened his home and allowed me to host a small dinner for Jessie and her twin sister there. He was such a nice guy.
This transition was also hard because while Jess seemed to have things figured out, there were a lot of unknowns in my life. We had lost funding for the women center and I was not going to have a job after June 30th. At that time I didn’t know where I would live or how I would pay for what seemed to be the inevitable choice, going back to school in the fall.
The silent retreat was her spiritual director’s idea. The monastery was beautiful and lush. The Nuns there prayed for us all day long. The only times that we were allowed to talk were at the beginning of the day, at the end of the day, and during a private meeting with her spiritual director that took place at some point during the course of the day.
When I sat down with her spiritual director I immediately started crying. This was all so overwhelming to me. She asked me about my life and I was really confused about next steps. The only thing that felt good was Kesner. She noticed that when I started talking about him my eyes lit up and a bright smile came to my face.
Kesner was my stable. My solid in the midst of so many changes.
After I laid all of my uncertainty out on the table, she was silent for a moment while she squeezed a small cross in her hands and closed her eyes really tightly, then she said: ” What Im hearing from God is that you need to ask the question - How is LOVE going to carry you through to the next season?”
My narrow conception of love was only thinking about romantic love. yes love! Of Course, I thought. Kesner’s love will carry me through! everything will be ok. deep sigh. … little did I know that the ways that love would carry me through would be far more profound than that…
© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2011