Life has a way of moving on ahead, regardless of our motivation in the matter. New souls come into the world and others leave it. If we’re lucky as we take life’s journey, and I’ve been incredibly fortunate, we cross paths with people who add to our lives. Some are brilliant, some ask us questions that remain with us, some leave us with a longing, and some show us how to create a life we couldn’t imagine before we met them. There are teachers and students.
Many years ago I met Jim and Fred, of Prairie Oak Farms, in Edwards County, Kansas. I had heard about them before I met them. It seemed everyone but me already knew this wonderful couple. Because of my work at the time I found myself at their farm one warm afternoon. I loved them instantly. It wasn’t the greenhouse filled with orchids, the birds in elaborate cages, or the French cupboards in their dining room, but the warmth of these men that attracted me.
My friend and I no doubt overstayed our welcome that day, and promised to return. But, alas, that didn’t happen. And I must take responsibility for that lack. I saw them again at various times, but never made it back to the farm where their souls were evident in everything they touched. Thousands of others made the trek, but we never did, although it was mentioned regularly.
Over the years we exchanged Christmas cards, and this letter I ran across recently was in response to one in 2002. On these pages, two friends are mentioned – Marci Penner and Martha Slater. Jim writes that if I didn’t know them, no doubt I knew their names. I did know them, but know them better now.
There is a belief in some faiths that we are born into “soul circles” and that in each lifetime we interact with the same souls in different ways, until we complete whatever business we have together. It lends credence to the idea of “small world” instances. It seems I may have missed my opportunity with Jim and Fred through negligence on my part. There never seems to be a “good time” to do something like drive a few hours to visit a farm on a, “dirt road in the middle of a corn field,” as Jim writes here.
These two and a half pages cover life and death. He offers condolences on my Mother’s passing. He mentions he and Fred have been together for 25 years. Like most of our daily existence, it contains all the extremes. It’s only with the benefit of time that we see them there – obvious now, but not so easy to spot then.
Jim and Fred are both gone, now. And it is a loss to everyone who knew them – even those like me who didn’t know them as well as we would have liked. I’m thankful to have these pieces of paper, with Jim’s beautiful handwriting, knowing that in early December of 2002 he took time to think of me, and share himself with me in this way. Nothing will ever replace the handwritten word to me. It brings a piece of the soul onto the page. I keep every letter because it seems nearly sinful to do anything but cherish something given so generously.
He signs off with “Love, Fred and Jim,” and then adds a sentence that seems prophetic in retrospect. “Much needs to be continued – right?!”