Campfire on Beach for Extending FriendshipWhenever uncertainty arises, stop. Be present, fully present. Watch your breath. If this isn’t enough, take a walk in nature, work in the garden or turn to a practice that cultivates stillness and inner connectedness such as yoga, qi gong or meditation.

Life is an ever-shifting balance between stillness and activity. Whenever activity dominates, and this easily happens in our busy lives, consciously cultivate stillness and the sense of peace this engenders. We can spend our lives chasing castles in the sky, when that which we seek has been with us all along. As Peace Pilgrim said, “You cannot give me anything I don’t need.”

All desire comes from a sense of lack. If there is one message I would like to make, it is that we already have enough stuff. Let’s put our focus on the real stuff of life. As Thoreau said, “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” I might add, “Give me friendship.” For me, this goes further than traditionally understood. Whenever I rest in the stillness, I feel immersed in a warm womb of love. I feel forgiven for all of my errors of judgement, for all of my frailties. I am loved and I Am Love. I know that we are surrounded by unseen, loving friends. They guide us and urge us to aim always for the highest.

Last night I joined our teenage daughters, Amira and Asha, and Amira’s boyfriend, Toby, on the beach for a campfire. The wind was roaring from the west. From time to time, it brought a driving rain. We huddled against a cliff somewhat protected from the elements. The night came on and the stars jousted with the clouds. We watched the fire, enchanted by the constantly changing colours of the flames. The salt in some of the driftwood burned an eerie yellow. Ultraviolet, royal blue, green and an occasional flash of turquoise created a rainbow of fire.

Potatoes, broccoli and carrots were placed in a bed of coals. The tide came in. I felt a deep sense of gratitude. I reflected on what I already had in my life and knew, in that moment, that I was fulfilled.

We dragged the aluminium-wrapped vegetables form the fire with sticks. The aluminium tore and some of the contents spilled on the sand. We laughed. As I ate my salad, the three teenagers munched on charred, sometimes crunchy vegetables. As always happens by the beach, a little sand found its way into the food. We laughed some more. Desert, prepared by Asha, was bananas with chocolate and marshmallow, also wrapped in aluminium. When removed from the fire they were a sticky, delicious mess.

The tide came in further and threatened to smother the fire. Asha, the active one, perched in the swaying branches of a nearby Pohutukawa tree, cackling with glee as successive waves flowed under her.

I relished the exquisite ecstasy of the moment. Immersed in darkness, flames dancing, wind crying, occasional drops of rain finding our sheltered alcove; an unknown bird calling from the water. Times like this remind one of our connectedness with everything. Are not the stars our sisters, the sun an elder brother, the moon a maiden meant for love? The sand crushed beneath us, yet supported our steps. The salty water of the sea and the sweet water falling from the sky cleansed and purified our thoughts. The entire orchestra of nature kept us fully present.

Cultivate a relationship with everything. One cannot feel alone with such a sense of connectedness. This is what I call extending friendship.

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