When I think of my friend Arlene, I see her sitting on her couch, surrounding by piles of books.
She makes us a hot pot of tea with a delicious stick of cinnamon because she knows how much I love the hot spicy sweetness of it. There is a plate of delicious treats on the table, that she has made for us. Her cat curls up beside her. It is summer. The light pours through the windows and spills onto us.
And we talk. She listens to my stories, my adventures and my heartaches. She shares passages from her favourite books. And she guides me. She shares her stories, her wisdom, her lessons learned, and the poetry of life.
My friend Arlene is more than my friend, she is my teacher. She has shown me so much of myself. She has given me strength to rise when I had fallen. She has taken my hand and lovingly told me when I was wrong, and what I need to do to make things right. She saw the colours in me, even on my dullest days. She has loved me unconditionally, even when I felt I was unloveable.
Over the years, we have had so many conversations, and each one was a seed planted in my heart, and slowly as the years have passed, these seeds grow into a garden of inner worthiness, the kind that only comes when someone in your life truly cares for your spiritual journey on this planet. For that, I am so grateful for Arlene.
Here are just a few gems.
Our contract with God
We spoke about hardships in life, and what makes us stay, what makes us plant our feet into the ground and rise to meet it. She said “Even when things were dark, I always knew that I have a contract with God, and only I can know what that means.”
Our inner fire
To me, Arlene is one of the calmest people I know. She lives so peacefully, with a graceful gentleness that is magic to me. A few years ago, we had a conversation. I said;
“Arlene, I know you are and Aries, and I know that Aries are all FIRE and intensity. But you have such a calm, collected and composed presence. How did you do that? And how can I do that too?”
I asked her these questions because I was in time of my life where I felt I needed to bury my inner fire.
She said “There is great virtue in patience, peace, and calmness, and these are things that make your life smooth and beautiful, and is something you can learn if you listen to what your life is showing you. But our inner fire and intensity is something else and it doesn’t need to be sacrificed for peace. Sometimes in life we let our fire go out inside us because it doesn’t suit someone else. But you shouldn’t. You should never dull your inner fire for someone else.“
Now I look at Arlene and I feel her intensity. She is intense yet soft; the most profound balance I know. Her fire glows.
“It doesn’t matter what happens to me. My inner life is thriving”
One afternoon, sitting in our favourite bookstore, she said to me with such a graceful conviction “It doesn’t matter what happens in my life. My inner life is thriving. I am really alive and nothing can touch that.”
The beauty of Simplicity
I love the simplicity of being with Arlene. Only in simplicity can we make something meaningful.
She starts her day with the sunrise. She gardens. She reads. She prepares beautiful meals with love. She sits. She practices Yoga. She laughs. She meditates. She writes. She connects with loved ones. Her heart is filled with so much love. And it’s just so simple.
She acts from her heart, and that is simplicity. Her inner life and her outer life are aligned, and that is integrity.
Deepening of life
A few years ago, I asked Arlene what her new years resolutions are. She said “You know, I used to make lists of resolutions every year, but I don’t do that anymore. I don’t have the desire to. The only resolution I keep is to deepen every experience I have. To experience even the smallest moment at a deeper level.”
And that’s everything.
Today is Arlene’s birthday. And it is a celebration.