Posted by: helens22 | February 13, 2012

How Friendship Can Grow—with a small yellow flower

I recently found my sketch book from my first trip to Ecuador in January of 2003. On one page, off to the side is a tiny five-petaled flower, drawn in pencil. The main subject on that page is a large plume of flowering wild grass. I don’t remember drawing the flower nor noticing it when I occasionally looked at my drawings from

But the subject, the subject, I know her very well now and oh, I do love her. She’s the little yellow five-petalled wild flower I’ve grown to be friends with at the Loma de Ensueños on an eroded hillside near Mt. Cotopaxi in Ecuador. 

It’s a little like finding out years later that I was in the same small room for a poetry reading with my husband to be, my first year in college. We didn’t notice each other and went about our separate ways for several years more before officially meeting, courting, falling in love, marrying, spending a lifetime together.

So it is for me, apparently, with the little yellow flower. Somehow I noticed her enough to sketch her form,
and then forgot. And yet…early on we  briefly shared the same space, a tiny connection that would lead to more.

She pops up first in a photo from a trip to a different part of Ecuador in 2004 while I was visiting a friend. Her sunny, yellow face shines in the single photo, but I have no memory of her from then either. So, without knowing it, I’ve been called into relationship, and even responded. And yet—recognition still has not come. It’s like with brief encounters with a stranger over years. But each time the connection, the thread, though occurring briefly, goes unrecognized and is missed. The moment passes and is forgotten. 

Years later in 2009, when we decide to put down roots and build on that eroded hillside—so barren to look at, but that feels like warm silk or a familiar embrace—I find her again as I look around to see who lives here and what they are like. I’m mostly struck by the barrenness, but there she is. And now she’s caught my attention – springing up from the rock-like ground—a miracle of sunshine in an impossible place. My camera focuses in on just her, and the hard, bare ground. Her spirit has called to me. Her spirit is showing me the way we must be—happy and undaunted by difficulties—if we are to make the hillside green again.

Coming to visit my new house for the first time, later that same year, I’m mostly consumed by my mind’s incessant questions of why am I here, why do I have a house, what will this all lead to!? This year the rains are not coming. The hillside grows drier by the day. Yet now, I remember her, I seek her out. Seeking, I find only one, bedraggled flower to photograph. Without water, how can even she, survive?

It is the next summer of 2010 when our friendship blossoms into love and deep respect. Each day, I marvel at         her sunny presence, and ponder how I might be more like her in the difficult moments of my life. I photograph  her carefully and on returning home, enlarge her image till it fills the whole frame. I often visit her on my computer and think of her and her companion, the other yellow Loma flower, the one who resembles a dandelion, but hugs the ground, and has a flowerette of leaves to hold precious moisture close to her for just a few hours longer in the sun and wind.

And it’s in the early fall, back in Michigan, that I am inspired to create a sunny mixture of essential oils and to call her spirit to give its gifts to the yellow oil. Moringa Molle Sunshine Oil, I call it. It brings together the energies of the Andes and India (from where the mooring oil which I’m using as a base, comes). It includes the protective and healing energy of the essential oil of the Molle tree, with which we hope to reforest the Loma, and the sun-filled scent of lemon. And to bring their own special sunny energy, I entreat my five petalled friend and my other yellow friend to fill the mixture with their own special gifts. It is the first time I’ve ever done such a thing, though to a part of me, it’s very familiar, ancient.  The feedback from others is that they love the oil, and when I visit Ecuador the next time, I’m moved almost to tears when my teacher takes out of his pocket the bottle I gave him, and tells me that he always carries it with him.

One last  small story in this on-going love affair. When I visit the Loma again in the winter of 2010-2011, it is the rainy season, and this year there is rain. I’m amazed to find that my sunny friend, when given water, does not grow alone—one solitary blossom at a time—but loves company and springs up in abundance wherever there is a small depression to collect and hold water. The day I have my camera, I find her as five sisters and take her portrait once more.

And it is this visit, when I decide to draw her once again. But now it as a friend. Now I draw as a way of connecting more deeply with someone I already love.

Love is a mystery.
What is it that draws us to a specific dear one?
And how much more love can we find
when we allow ourselves to expand
past thinking of relationships as something
we can only have with our own kind, or in one way,
and instead recognize the love that is calling to us
from every place, in every moment,
from the wind, the water, the flowers, the birds, the trees.
We need never lack for love again.


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