I call them the Good Witches, they have been meeting for over five years now, just about every week: Maria, Mandy, and Athena. They usually meet at the Round House Cafe, although sometimes they head out on secret excursions.
Maria doesn't tell me much about what they discuss, and I only ask if they had a good time. They talk openly with one another, I think, and confidentiality is important. They almost always do have a good time.
I am happy that Maria has a group of friends like this to talk to, I think everyone needs that. Few men have that, I've never had it, and I have grown older, and I don't really expect to have it. Men are different.
Few men would take the time of out their work lives to meet so regularly and faithfully with one another, and talk openly and honestly about their lives, as Maria says they do, and men are the poorer for it, I think. I've started three men's groups in my life, and found myself with some very good men, but they almost almost find reasons to stop – they are too busy, they have too many obligations, they have work to do at night, their wives want them at home.
If I told Maria I wanted her at home for lunch, she would laugh at me, or worse. And good for her. I have no trouble occupying myself alone. She needs other people in her life, as we all do.
It's too bad men don't do this, because most men really need someone to talk to: just look at the news.
Maria tries very hard to never miss a lunch, she takes the commitment very seriously, and when I see the Good Witches on the street, I often think I see a white stream rising up above them, they are always laughing or smiling, or listening very intently to one another.
It's interesting, as much as I admire them, I have no desire to join the group, and none of them have ever or would ever invited me, and I wouldn't belong or be comfortable there. I've learned in my teaching that women are the most open and comfortable when men are not present.
There is something about the community of women that is just very powerful at times, and I just don't see it happening with most men. Perhaps the next generation will change that.
I find that I do have some friends now, some men and some women, and I am increasingly comfortable with them and trusting of them. It would not really occur to me to meet with them for lunch every week. Like most men, I always think there is something more important for me to do than to have lunch, even as I know there is really nothing more important than human connections.
When I see the Good Witches, I think they have mystical powers, they can lift things up off of the ground and make frogs sing. They are very important to Maria, when I met her, she had no friends like this and as she has opened up, she found people she can trust and share almost anything with, or so I believe.
Friendship is a sacrament, I think, something sacred. I am just beginning to figure it out. It took long enough.