Author, educator, and activist Parker Palmer said, “When the heart breaks, it takes only one soul-friend to help it break open instead of apart.”
When Bill died it felt like I lost my soul-friend, the one I confided in who always helped me see more clearly and put my world back together. People keep saying that he is still with me, but he isn’t. Memory and love are remarkably powerful and enduring forces, but what my heart longs for is to hear his gentle voice and wise counsel. Oh, I continue to talk to him, but me talking isn’t what I need.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Palmer’s term “soul-friend.” What a gift it would be if all had one. I think part of the problem is that it takes time to develop that depth of intimacy, vulnerability, and trust. Long-term relationships are increasingly rare in our frantic and transitory age.
Soul-friendship is also the product of time spent together. It is not just the quantity of time, but also the quality. Still, like a tree, growth and strength take time, and there is no substitute. Unfortunately, we too often fail to realize that we don’t have a soul-friend until we need one, and then it is too late to find one.
The difficult truth is that the only way to have a soul-friend is to become one. We must develop relationships that are authentic, intimate, honest, and vulnerable. Soul-friendship takes great effort and courage. The only thing that requires more courage is to dare to go through this life without a soul-friend.
Rev. Michael Piazza