I have a friend named Charlie, and when he met me, I was a flickering candle that had almost gone out. I was sad, terribly lonely, and exhausted from grief. I know I was like that mostly because he told me I was like that. Charlie has a way of telling you the truth and still helping you feel loved, which is what all good friends do, when they’re being good friends.
Those of you who know Charlie know him first of all by his laugh. Can you hear it in your mind? It’s fireworks and sunshine, and it comes easily. His smile is broad and contagious. If you are lucky enough to get invited to his home, he will nourish you with food he has grown in his own garden, and the drink he pours you will be strong and mischievous, like Charlie himself.
Charlie loves to throw open the doors and gather people together to eat and laugh and be human.
My friend Charlie is going through a dark, sleepless season, where the shadows are brighter than the sunshine. Where the night lasts longer than the day. Where the music is heavy and dark. He wrote about it here. I know that I cannot take away that darkness anymore than I can make the sun rise, but I love Charlie, so this post expresses what I hope for him, and what I hope for you, if you are also experiencing a dark night.
I hope you are surrounded by friends who nourish you from the gardens of their own love, where life springs up out of the cold, dark ground and helps you remember who you are again. I hope you can somehow see – even in the dark – how those gardens have grown in part because of your love for them. I hope those friendships taste sweet and true during this season.
I hope you are given gifts of utter grace this season. You are someone who creates and achieves and brings out so much in so many people, and we are so grateful for those gifts that you give. But I hope somewhere along this long walk that you are taking, your breath is taken away by a gift that arrives just for you, not because you did something special, but because you are something special.
I hope that you give yourself lots and lots of room to sit and read and be unproductive. The temptation for people like us is to try to achieve our way out of the dark, which we would never advise anyone else to try, but which we nonetheless will try until we are exhausted. You are in a season to let the fruit of your achievements come back to you and feed you. Build your house. Enjoy your close friends. Ask Jen to take you out to your favorite restaurant. Let those sons of yours make you laugh again until you cannot breathe.
And I hope that you listen to those whispers in the dark. Not the accusing ones that fill you with fear, but the familiar ones which call you toward those places which you know are true, deep down on a soulful level, beyond words. These whispers are breezes which invite you to get up and go somewhere, but you have resisted, for all the normal reasons all of us resist. My hope is that during this season, you give up resisting.
You are one of the good ones, Charlie. In it together.