From the moment that I stepped out of my car on Friday afternoon to meet my on-line friends from the Creative Group at Bedlam Farm, I felt welcomed. John Katz, the imaginative wizard who conjured up this magical “Ministry of Encouragement”, was in the driveway and was the first one to approach me with open arms. As he enveloped me in a hearty hug, he said, “I know you.” And he really does, along with all the other members of the group. We know each other, our lives and joys and sorrows and triumphs and challenges, better than many of our own family and long-time friends do. In our writing, our poems and artwork and photos, we open ourselves up daily because we can trust that what we are sharing is going to be received with open arms.
If there is one thing that is forever imprinted on my soul about this weekend, it is the hugs that people gave me. Big, embracing, solidly warm and joyful hugs. Over and over, with happiness and tears flowing freely. Later came the quiet conversations, that I will also long remember and cherish -- Standing on the lawn at the farm with Kate Rantilla, sitting on the wicker couch by the dahlias with Tom Atkins, at Jeff Anderson’s house on the deck with Jeff and Nancy Gallimore while the geese sang to us as they flew in big v’s over our heads, driving long distances across farmland vistas of green and red and gold with my soul sister, Denise Gainey, connecting over dinner with Susan Crosby as we talked about our moms. But even now, sitting at home, I can still feel the hugs.
Thank you Jon Katz and Maria Wulf for giving us the time and the place to celebrate these rare and precious friendships. For several days at Bedlam Farm, we were all given permission to be truly who we are and maybe more important, we were all appreciated for who we are.