A New World Culture of Friendship

Okay…such an interesting gentle, quiet ride through the fields and meadows of life,

heading up tall mountains and soaring down the other side,

swimming through rivers to get to the other side

and back floating skyward in the ocean these days.

On the one hand, it’s quiet inside; on the other hand, it’s active. And, it is ever so curious, to decide each day, which degree on the circle, which number on the clock, which door in the many options, I will choose to enter or occupy.

Yesterday, was more of a lack-lustre trudge, sometimes just simply fatigued by the restraints i was too tired to transform.

But today……I am on the wings of flight and imagination. I have inspiration moving through my veins; and intuitively, i am going to do what i always do, allow myself to listen and begin painting a picture, out of which i will create a new life…right here, right now “in the summer of 69” no in the spring of 20.  Nice number.

For those of you who haven’t known me most of my life, my thoughts might be a stretch; but for those of you who do know me a long, long time….well, it will be easy to follow along. Either way, I’m happy you’re here.

The picture I am painting begins with a circle.  My mind has often tried to change this circle, but it just remains steadfast in one area.  It is a circle of women.  There are other circles of souls, which includes everyone.  But today, this circle appeared again.  And, I was taken back to my last visit with my friend, Veronica, Veronica Laker, in Kimberton, in the early 1990’s.  She was one of three close friends, I lost to breast cancer in that period of time.  She called me one day, crying and said, everyone is just waiting for me to die.  My heart stopped, and then I said, okay Ronnie, let’s rally!!!! I’m coming for a visit. I don’t know what possessed me to say let’s rally Ronnie, but somewhere it was perfect and she loved it!

A very good friend of mine, who has supported me in so many ways in my life–being the first financial contributor to my nonprofit, world hearth for peace and friendship society, start up; buying me my first computer so i could write; and buying me a ticket so i could fly back and visit my friend, Ronnie, who was dying.  Ken Mumma has been such an amazingly heartfelt and generous friend to me.  I have so much gratitude and admiration for him.

Back to Ronnie, I had just finished writing three books, and I grabbed the first one, Radiating Love, on my way to the airport.  When I arrived, I sat reading to her; and once I finished the book, she asked me to read it again and again.  I “reopened” the interior space in her home.  Rearranged the living room.  Went into the garage in search of something special.  I found a beautiful antique rocker I pulled out.  All the furniture had been pushed back along the walls for ease of cleaning?  So I bought at least 10 dozen roses and filled the living room.  I moved everything around, to include the rocker and made it cozy with soft lighting.  I asked Ronnie if she would like to walk into the living room; and as we slowly shuffled there, she burst out crying seeing her grandmother’s rocker. Her eyes just glistened as she looked around, seeing all the roses and beauty in her home.  She was so happy and content, sat down, rocking with her eyes closed.

I had a dream one night while i was sleeping in her house.  In the dream, Ronnie was going to turn on a special light.  The moment in time when she did that, she would take her last breath.  I was a bit shaken and very uncertain.  We hugged good morning and I, once again, started reading.  She leaned over next to her bed to “turn on a special light,” I had not noticed before.  It was like a slow motion animation.  As she was leaning over, I could feel myself, figuratively, not literally throwing myself through space to stop her from turning it on.  She got there first.  She turned the light on and I screamed out, oh no ronnie!!  Nothing happened, and she turned to look at me.  I sat there shrunken in my chair as she asked, what’s wrong Jill?  The question I had to wrestle with was do I tell her or not?

I decided not, for all the reasons, and instead, gently asked her how she felt about this moment in her life, so close to the threshold.  I asked if she felt ready.  Ronnie was a beautiful tall woman with longer red, thick hair, big green eyes and equally big glasses.  When I sat with her, she was maybe 100 lbs, but her beauty was still radiant; and through those big eyes and big glasses, she held my gaze tightly, put her hand up in the sign of stop, and spoke very clearly; I will not go there.

Of course, I shrank more and wondered desperately how to be more helpful.  I said I am comfortable on either side of the threshold, so I am here if you want to speak together.  She told me I could start reading.  And in that moment, beyond comprehension, maybe lack of sleep, or a vivid loosened imagination, I heard singing to my left.  I “saw” little “childlike” faces singing a song which said, you will open the sisters of sophia….and my mouth dropped open. I looked at Ronnie whose eyes were closed awaiting for me to read again. Feeling startled, I was either hallucinating or in an altered state from the “shock of turning on the light,” and then I looked back to the lovely singers.  If I turned my whole head to look straight on, I could not see them.  If I just sat looking at Ronnie, gazing sideways, they were there still singing.  And in an instant, nothing.

I had no idea, absolutely no idea, what it meant, so I continued reading to Ronnie.  I stayed for one week, holding open the space of life and living, happiness and hope, and then I had to leave.  It was one of the saddest moments in my life saying goodbye, knowing I would never see my friend again.  We cried and outside, Ken, was waiting in his van to pick me up and take me to the airport to fly home to the coast on the other side of the continent.

It was the first time I understood what it meant “i will hold your heart, i will hold your heart in my heart.”  There are three woman, friends and sisters, who still live with me, even though they crossed over the threshold from their personal lives into the all-embracing universe of light:

Ronnie Laker.      Her children were the same age as mine around 12 and 10 years old.

Debbie Hill.          Beautiful singer and academic, whose daughter became a well-known opera singer   in Los Angeles.    Shana Blake Hill

Beth Randolph     Mother to a daughter only in the first year of life.

Today, I have been feeling all of this, all of them, openly…..

How I learned to consciously hold open the inner spaces, places and landscapes.  Something I had been doing my whole life, by nature, but with Ronnie, I understood more, awakened to it.

How I learned to carry “your heart in my heart” and began working with different practices around breathing in suffering into the centre of my heart allowing it to burn away in the fire of love, and then radiating it back out, the love, into the world.

I still carry the sisters of sophia song in my heart, but today I feel like I’ve been moving through time and space at a fast rate and have arrived in the present moment with an ever-growing impulse to take up World Hearth for Peace and Friendship….as a friendship society holding open space for the awareness of inner beauty, world peace, radiating love, upholding living wisdom, and honouring all the light we cannot see, around the world and in each one of us.

Yes, it’s daunting, and as I began, might sound a bit much.  But, in reality, these are some of the roots that have been growing my whole life.

Above the roots is a beautiful tree, much like the eucalyptus tree on our property, that has a door that opens into the interiors of life itself, in order to live outwardly more fully, more lovingly, compassionately, wisely, peacefully, beautifully.

It is a lovely day to feel and see and let it all resonate.  It is a lovely day to imagine and hold open the space so I can continue painting, listening, discerning how a circle of sisters, or a world hearth of friends–both inner and outer–come together to help grow a new world culture of peace and kindness.

The interesting thing is the path for an impulse, an insight, inspiration, dream, hope or whatever, always comes back to the same place, right here, right now, in this moment, this year, this date, this little heart.  And now, finally, I can stand up, breathe, stretch and hold my arms wide open in a gesture of solidarity and willingness to be present to the beauty and light in each moment and in each one of us, be present in the love and peace we have to give and cultivate, and be present to the living wisdom innately swirling around us, in the art of accompaniment, each and every day.

Somewhere, I feel a circle of loving wisdom, and I feel a warm hearth of love and peace, that beckons me to turn on the light and welcome everyone, everywhere inside and out…..for a shared cup of tea and conversation, a dance under the stars, a community table full of food and laughter, with willingness to lend a helping hand, and to take our seats together, sitting quietly, holding open the space where love can be born into the world over and over and over again. Practice after practice.

Somehow in some miraculous and mysterious way, I felt the light turned on, and there was life….a life to be lived, to be shared, to uphold with dignity, to tend, to nourish, to care for with others…..actually when the light turned on there was beauty everywhere in the oneness and connectedness of humanity, the wholeness of the living Earth, and the opportunity we have to be an awakened world community.

And when the light turned on,

the world soul blossomed into a 5-petal rose

uniting world homes,

world hearths

and world sanctuaries

into a new world culture of friendship,

peace, love, light, living wisdom and beauty,

fully cultivated out of genuine interest

in each other

and our common worldwide purposes.


written by jillian rosemary labelle sophie

all photos by jillian

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