Her hand is extended in friendship. The gesture is genuine and wanting. I place my hand in hers, taking it ~ touched by the gesture and the sisterhood implied. But another part of me is cautious, not because of her. I am cautious because of the courage a real friendship requires. I am a coward in this area, afraid of what will be asked of me. Not asked, maybe but demanded. I must be honest, dead honest to be close. I am so easily hurt and the sting is lasting. It feels so hard to say, “When you did that, I felt this. It felt ungenerous. Did you mean to hurt me?” I have chosen instead to be distant all these years.

My oldest sister did mean to hurt me. She schemed and planned. It was her occupation and she was masterful. How can we leave Karen out, she wondered. How can I get rid of her? She formed groups of exclusion. Oh Karen, we were just talking about what we were all going to do, and we all decided that we did not want you to be part of it. We think you wouldn’t be of much use.

What was it in her that needed to destroy me and why? This older child who hated me was my care-giver and only available parent. We’re old women now, but the relationship remains, except I no longer engage in opening or extending. She still waits coiled and ready to strike. I ask in gestures and words. Can we stop this yet? Can we give this up? The answer is, No. Her position is set.

 What I had not fully realized is how this relationship has colored my ability to reach towards others. How quietly and subtly I have folded my hand behind my back or deep inside my pockets, when the thing my heart needed most was to extend forward, placing the warmth of another’s willingness inside the courage of my own. Honesty is required. I must speak and not be silent to create what I desire. I must risk that my words will fall on gentle soil.

Why does love require such courage?

Love should wash over us naturally and with ease the way the sun rises each morning or the way water laps gently and consistently against the shore.

Maybe love is that way after all, once our fears are put to rest and our wounds healed. Maybe in the end, it’s all that easy; but for me, I’m thinking probably not. For me, I will need courage, honesty and willingness. Maybe I can do that more easily now. Maybe miracles do happen.

written 7-27-08

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