I made a new friend on Saturday. M. (I won’t use her name because I haven’t asked her) came to the writers’ group I’m a part of. It turns out she heard me speak at a church a while back, and we have things in common, and we ended up having lunch. I realized that making a new friend is even more thrilling in adulthood than in 2nd grade. I think that’s because in 2nd grade you expect to make new friends. When it happens now, it’s in the small-miracle category.
M. is impressive and motivational because she walks the spiritual walk the way a lot of people talk it but stop there. She isn’t flashy about it, and she doesn’t brag: she just does it. I was particularly entranced by the fact that she gets up at 3 a.m. for spiritual practice. I know that many spiritual luminaries have done this: the late Dr. Richard Carlson did it for years, and I’ve read that Deepak Chopra does, as well. My new friend uses these early morning (some would say “late night”) hours for prayer, journal-writing, meditation, and yoga, and for running in the park with her Siberian husky. Getting up as early as she does, she can get all this done and still have plenty of time to get ready and make it on time to her very responsible job. (There’s no sense in being, as I heard it worded once, “too damned spiritual to be any earthly good.”)
Thanks to M., I’ve been inspired for four days now! I figure that if she can get up at 3, I have no excuse for not getting up at 6 and doing my spiritual practice, perhaps less Olympian than hers, but workable just the same. Obviously, we’re different people with different lives. She’s single and I’m not. My husband puts up with a lot already (it must be tough to be a secular humanist married to Liittle Miss God-Is-All-and-Everything); announcing that I’m going to start getting to sleep at 8:30 so I can get up at 3 would not be a spiritual thing to do. But not announcing anything (in other words: shut up and do it), I can get to sleep by 10 and get up at 6 and do what I have to do.
I am so grateful for M. and my other friends who show me that ordinary people can live extraordinary lives. It’s one thing to read about saints and mystics, and quite another to see people who ride and bus, and carry backpacks, and can talk about movies and politics and be in every apparent sense “normal,” having the depth and richness of an inner life, too.