“It’s nice to have people come to the house,” Patricia said. Her sweet, furry little dog sat in her lap. The fire crackled in front of us. In the distance, feral cats called from the woods.

“You can hear each other, you can actually talk,” I said. And there’s no rush to finish up and leave.

Last night, we went to the beautiful wooded quiet home of dear friends, who had made us gluten-free pizza and exquisite salad and desserts you can’t imagine. We sat down and talked and laughed and ate against the backdrop of windows looking out onto a dark night.

Had it been day, we would have seen the trees and the lawn and so many creatures that meander through the yard. The ribbons of sunlight fingering through the forest. The pink clouds outside my window right now.

We sat around the fire on the patio for quite a long time and by then, one of the dogs was laying in my lap. I’ve never had that experience before. You must understand, I come from a family not quite inspired by animals. So the idea of having a pet has always been theoretical.

This sweet little pup climbed up to my lap and then nestled in, and I scratched her head behind her ears. It was the loveliest feeling, a warm body and beating heart merging with mine. The fire cracked and grew. The night feel deeper.

When we left, there were hugs and smiles and we were all so glad for knowing each other, for having time together. It’s friendships like those that make life worth living.

You know, we run through our days and book our schedules full and we worry about things like money and to-do lists and will-we-succeed and stuff like that. Sometimes I can’t believe how we all have our priorities so turned around.

What if we spent the majority of our time in situations that brought us joy? Coffee or a meal with friends, whittling down our list of friends to include only the ones with whom we truly have a heart connection, those islands in the storm. Donating our time and our resources. Reading a book. Walking a trail. Doing the work rather than worrying about its outcomes.

Stuff like that. After a night around a campfire, I can’t help but see life through these lenses. I’m afraid I’d like to wear them all the time.

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