You rest in the arms of your friends. You give them your heart for safekeeping. You trust them with your weaknesses. You can be small in front of them, without fear. You marvel in their complexities and their possibilities. You cherish their souls.

And, if you’re lucky, you are staggered by the vastness of their intelligences and the limitlessness of their spirits.

I’m lucky, then. In everything.

Our tiny salon met again last night, a group for which twice-monthly gatherings is beginning to seem not nearly enough. We eat. We drink. Very often, we cry—and not from sadness. We talk about things that matter…ideas, abstractions, the challenges of (and to) creativity. We explore our innermost selves. And we stretch the muscle between our ears.

Every few salons, we commit to an exercise. The Exquisite Corpse poetry came from one such session. (See the August 26 posts.) Last night’s exercise was to bring a passage or two (or three) that had deep personal meaning (with no limitations as to length, format or sourcetype.) These we shared and talked about what they meant to us and why.

Would I call it a successful session? No. Wildly successful, yes.

Inspired, heartfelt choices. Tears. Smiles. Embraces. And an extra gift: Our first long-distance salonist—my dearest, longest-tenured friend who phoned in her reading from her home in Madison, WI. The depth and level of personal revelation in the choices was extraordinary. These are some very, very, very special people. And not just because they indulged me by letting me read a passage of my own.

These salons do—at least for me—what few other human encounters do. Or can. In a somewhat reticent life, I come away filled and fulfilled, glowing with wonder, almost beyond my ability to contain it. What these exceptional people take away from our gatherings…you’ll have to ask them. I know that each one leaves us marveling at our luck in having found one another; shaking our heads in amazement, wondering how we could possible top what we’ve just been through. And each time, we do.

Next exercise? Not sure yet. One intriguing idea: to create a short story in five words.

For now, thank you, my gifts, my treasures, my darling friends.

The “reading list”, below (except for Mary’s…I’ll add that later).

Kristina: Wislawa Szymborska: Conversation with a Stone, and The Joy of Writing.

Melody: C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces; Lawrence Ferlinghetti, A Coney Island of the Mind

Blake: Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer; Grant Morrison, Flex Mentallo; Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums.

Me: Charles Wright, There is a Balm in Gilead (Buffalo Yoga); Tennyson, The Idylls of The King (The Death of Arthur); Lynn Biederstadt, The Spiritkeeper (the love scene)