Last weekend I got to spend three days with some of my favorite people on earth. The five of us meet over thirty years ago in college and have by some lucky miracle, defied distance and place and time and just plain old life, to remain friends. It is a true gift to spend time with such people whom you have chosen and who have chosen you. We spent the time talking, talking, talking, and trying to fill in all the blanks since our full gathering in 2007. We have gotten together in twos and threes but it takes a fair bit of organizing to get all five together for a weekend. Through the talking one of the five shared about moving and living in a new neighborhood. Her family had been living next to a horrible, toxic neighbor who went out of his way to make them uncomfortable. That neighbor, in fact, was one of the big reasons for them moving. Now she and her family have a wonderful eclectic mix of neighbors who are the very model of neighborliness. There are the Howdy neighbors, and the Chatty Neighbors and then there are the Sugar Neighbors. Sugar neighbors are the ones of course that you feel comfortable asking for sugar, they are the ones who don’t mind watering your plants and checking in on the dog and you’ll do the same for them. What a comfort to have someone close by who watches out and checks in.
Over the years I haven’t had very many sugar neighbors, some of it was me and some of it was circumstances, the energy of the street and the neighborhood. I was lucky to have a sugar neighbor in the most unlikely of neighborhoods, the Haight/Ashbury in San Francisco which is a section of the city know for it’s love-in past and druggy, homeless present. But still we managed to find each other, sugar neighbors in the mix of all that grim and grit! Now of course I have some outstanding sugar neighbors in my retreat center life here at The Bishop’s Ranch with other families and staff close at hand. But I got to thinking about a different kind of sugar neighbor not one of proximity or place but of affection. My five college girlfriends are sugar neighbors of the soul, when I call them my cup is filled when I see them my cup is overflowing. Ah how sweet, sweet indeed!
The three “Sugar Neighbor” houses are a sample I made for a family art project I’ll be teaching at the upcoming Bishop’s Ranch “Generations Camp” which starts next week. If you would like your own “Sugar Neighbors” houses let me know. $50 a house and one bird for every neighborhood they can be hung indoors or out. Ben Mann of Bellingham, Washington is the inspiration for this technique here is a link to a video of him doing his thing http://vimeo.com/3901242.
I’ll be taking a two-week break to finish up camps here at The Bishop’s Ranch and then retreat from the retreat for a week with my camperific family. I’ll touch base with you again on August 19th.