Did you ever hear the one about the parish priest and the Jew? Gotcha – there’s no punchline..
Simon (simonmarsh.org) is a parish priest in NW England. I’m – well you know me by now. We’ve never met, and yet I can assure you he is as much a part of my heart as any beloved friend. I don’t remember what prompted us to start emailing each other, but shortly after we did, Simon became ill. His voice was failing him, a diagnosis proved elusive and his fatigue was almost taunting him. I fretted – asking all these questions that you would expect – was he able to eat? Had he tried chicken soup? Was he getting enough rest? How was the quality of the medical care? He would respond when he was able – without complaint. His tiredness was teaching him patience, he wrote, his hoarseness provided him time to listen to silence. He was most frustrated that his responsibilities to his parish were being compromised. And he worried about his wife Jilly. Simon apologized for not writing more, reassuring me through this ordeal. Thanking me for being a worried Jewish mom across the pond (forget that we are close in age, I’ve always had a strong maternal streak).
Simon has improved, his posts are more frequent and I can’t begin to suggest that I understand all that he writes. What I feel though is palpable – the love of his religion, the celebration of family, the delight in a flower’s budding. I suppose one can argue that at core, this is what spirituality is predicated upon in its purest sense, and when I read his words from that perspective, I rejoice.
Simon sent an email over the weekend to some of his friends. It is no exaggeration when I write that I get a visceral reaction whenever I see his name in my inbox. My friend – he is well, he is in my orbit and I am grateful. We hope to meet one day – sitting in some coffee shop somewhere. Perhaps Andy and I will return to England one day; maybe Simon and Jilly will visit the States. Who knows what fate has in store. But there was a reason that Simon came into my life – he has taught me that the heart can hold an unimagineable amount of love, that there are people in the world who see us as far, far better than we really are and that perception impels us to try and fit that image. Simon makes me a better Mimi. Because he is convinced that I already am. What do I offer in return? I have no idea – for whatever it is, it pales in comparison.
Simon and Jilly are off on holiday. He will likely not even read this anytime soon, but that’s ok. I wrote this more for me than for him, a meager attempt at acknowledging the power of a friendship that came from the universe and travels with continued enthusiasm across the pond.
Recently Simon posted Mary Oliver‘s “Wild Geese” and though it came from a different place in his thoughts, it is offered here for him. For Simon, my friend.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
59 thoughts on “For Simon”
Wonderful tribute for your friend. Sometimes you are lucky enough to find people like this. That makes you very lucky indeed!
I am truly, truly lucky and at the risk of sounding corny, incredibly blessed.
Life is in the details, Mimi…can’t always analyze them…can’t help noticing them either… 🙂
You’re so right!
A poignant tribute, honey, to someone who, as you so aptly note, is a *beautiful* soul. I, too, have had the great good fortune to have entered Simon’s orbit and, much like you, have been blessed by his warmth, generosity of spirit and love, which are diminished not one whit by the distance over which they travel. I, also harbor hopes of sitting down to a cup of tea with Simon and Jilly one day. My heart is warmed by every encounter we have and my life is richer for his presence. This lovely paean to friendship brings me to tears..it is pitch perfect. If you are blessed, I am doubly so to hold you both close to my heart…xo, L
I would say we are both blessed sweetie – and as we have noted often, thankful to the universe for the bounty of our friendship..xoxo, m
Mimi-beautiful as always, and a lovely tribute to Simon. It also takes someone who is an active listener, with an open heart and an open mind, to appreciate a gift like Simon. And to be completely corny, not everyone is wise enough to see all the joy right under their nose. This is why you are such an amazing leader, and an especially amazing friend.
Ah Jill, thank you, thank you. Certainly in our former lives, it was a challenge to always find the ‘joy’ right under our noses, but all in all, I think we did damn well. And as for friendship – right back at you my dear friend – right back at your fabulous self.
Beautiful, Mimi. Just beautiful.
Thank you Kristin – he’s a remarkable person.
Whatever the reason and/or this joyous celebration of new friendship; it appears to be reciprocal in its nurturing of two souls brought together by the beauty of words that touch the heart and soul of every (wo)man. Fills me with joy to read of your visceral reaction to seeing his name and reading his words; always learning, ever-evolving. I would bet the lessons you teach and your take on life and its challenges and its beauty have the same effect across the pond. Beautiful testament to the beauty of new friendship and all the pleasant surprises it brings. Glad to hear Simon is well. May it always be so. Always energized when you take to the road. To the moon and back.
You’ve been on my mind a lot too Jo…sending you a separate email..And always enjoy being on the road when I know you’re in the car with me…xoxo
Your spirit shines through this post like a beacon in the darkest night, my friend. It carries so much love that my heart is warmed from a great distance. Your tribute to such a fine man reflects the goodness and greatness within you. Thank you both for sharing your light and love with the world.
Ah Russ, you’ve made me cry..You have the most generous, embracing spirit of anyone I’ve ever ‘met’ (so to speak). Thank you thank you thank you..
Mimi, this was so very touching, it almost made me cry. You are some wordsmith, dear lady and I am glad to be able to enjoy your work, week by week. Thank you! Also, I think I may have asked you this before, but do you host other authors on your blog? I am embarking on a second blog tour and this time around looking for bloggers who’s readership is more geared to this particular book, THE GOOD MOMMIES’ GUIDE…www.amazon.com/dp/B00CP62O56. Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you regarding this. If ur on Twitter, i’m @nonniejules and my blog address is nonniewrites.wordpress.com if you’d like to leave a message for me there. Thanks, again!
I’d LOVE to host other authors on my blog!! Let’s talk about it some more at your convenience…my email is email@example.com
Stunning as always. Thank you!
Simon is a rare find and you have captured the essence of who he is as a wonderful person. Thanks so much for this Mimi.. Mary Oliver’s words are the perfect topping to a wonderful post.
Hi Bill – It wouldn’t surprise you to know that the words just flowed – attributable I am convinced to the subject of the post. He is a special soul and to be considered a friend of his is truly a high honor in my book. I’m so happy that you see him that way too.
Oh!! I had a visceral reaction when I read the poem’s title – this is a favourite of mine. I have loved this poem for a long time, and now I love it even more. Thank you for sharing your connection with Simon Mimi! This was wonderful!
SO happy you liked it!! And I agree – this poem is just amazing..
Wow – what a fabulous and beautiful celebration of such a special and rare individual. Your words bring him to life for someone who has not met him, truly you touched on the essence of his person. A gift of writing from you, a gift of inspiration for all of us. xoxo
I never slow down, I never read poetry, I am an idiot but now I see a fix. Thank you, Mimi. I love you too.
What a great tribute and about your wonderful friendship
Hi Joanne – thank you, he deserves every tribute accorded him
What a beautiful tribute to your friend! A lovely, lovely post…and I love Mary Oliver too!
Thank you!! I too love Mary Oliver..
What a wonderful post. I think it’s amazing how we can bond with people on the other side of the world without ever having met them in person. Kindred spirits, souls meant to collide. I love Mary Oliver and this poem, especially the delicious reminder of the opening line: You do not have to be good. Thanks, mimi!
Hi Vicky – thank you, though the appreciation is really for Simon. I have been blessed with some magical ‘collisions’ and it never ceases to amaze me.
So sweet, Mimi. I’m so glad that you found such a friend. I’m also very glad that he’s back to health and on holiday. Thank you for sharing Mary Oliver’s beautiful poetry and for reminding me of how special my friends are…
I don’t think you needed any reminder Cathy – I think you cherish your friends, and I think they know it. It ‘feels’ like it’s just a part of the person you are..
This was beautiful, reminding me of the utter beauty of life, so uplifting, thank you Mimi
Thank you Valerie – there are some posts which write themselves. Having such a lovely person as a subject made it easy – and he is everything that defines ‘uplifting’. Wishing you a great day, Mimi
Mimi you amaze me! You are such a beautiful person, thank you for the inspiration you give us!
I don’t know what to say – for ‘inspiring’ is somehow not an adjective I associate with myself. Your efforts to improve peoples’ approach to the workplace, to remember to touch their humanity first and foremost – that to me is inspiring. That you would think that of me is truly humbling. Thank you..
Wonderful post Mimi. (BTW, I get a visceral reaction when I see you name pop up too…different form…but visceral nonetheless)
So are you saying you get a feeling of mild nausea???
Spewed my juice all over my desk. I DID NOT SAY THAT
Laughing out loud..first, get a napkin. You didn’t say that, I was just trying to imagine what kind of visceral reaction it might be and that was the first that came to mind (along with rolled eyes and your head shaking back and forth…perhaps a heavy sigh..’Oh God, she’s b-a-a-a-c-c-k’..
Stomach hurts now. OK, you are getting closer. 🙂
Oh this is great, just flippin’ great…I evoke feelings of relentless virus that won’t abate. Hmm, I guess the ‘won’t abate’ part is pretty accurate. Take two Tylenol, ’cause I don’t think I’m going anywhere.
“Simon makes me a better Mimi. Because he is convinced that I already am.” This is my favorite line…it’ says it all. We could all use a little bit of Simon in our lives.
I do too..though I think we all do have people like this in our lives. It’s just that Simon doesn’t let it go, when I choose to dismiss it. I think our friends see us ‘warts and all’ and love us anyway – and probably view us as better versions of ourselves – don’t you think?
What a heart-felt post written for your friend that is filled with warmth and generosity.
He must be someone very special to you.
Hi Elizabeth..Good to hear from you! He is special to so many – I’m just one of his many friends and fans I think. It is his generous spirit, the ability to reach across the Atlantic and embrace his friends as fully as if they were standing before him. Quite an exceptional person.
Beautifully said Mimi.
Thank you – it was important to me..
A lovely tribute to a blogging friend. I really like reading that you have an emailing friend with whom there is a strong connection .I am sure that he will be delighted when he reads this post. You are a good person, good to the core, Mimi.
Thank you! I hope so – that he enjoys it (and I hope I’m half as good as you believe me to be). There are a small handful of people with whom I have developed from very caring friendships through the blogosphere. One I speak with regularly and have met; another who will be visiting the East Coast later this fall and a couple of others who I feel I have known all my life. It’s really wonderful – makes me feel like I did something right to have been so generously bestowed…:-)
That is indeed something to be very proud of. I email with 6 and 2 of them I’ve gotten to know pretty well.Some of them I have one major thing in common and the men I’v exchanged a few emails. All these people are 25 to 30 years younger and so I think that is somewhat of a hindrance. But I treasure the few exchanges that we have had.
Thanks Mimi for the nice reply. Take care and I KNOW from the manner in which you write that you really are a very nice individual.
I enjoyed our exchange – thank you!
This post was like an entire day’s worth of meals. breakfast with Simon and your flowy, effortless prose, late lunch/early dinner with that sumptuous poem, and a lil something sweet to round it out with that spot on photo. Seriously filling in all the right places…
I know what you mean about people who view you as better than you are–and thus inspire you (one) to be that person. Thank God for those people…you are a little bit of that person to me!!
Do you know how happy you made my by suggesting that I even have the tiniest of such an impact on you? I’m doing my happy dance – because I think you really are just da bomb!!!
I struggle to find the words to capture the response your post about Simon evoked in me. I’ll try a few: moved, stirred, comforted. My final thought: Whatever our path, we’ll all be okay. I’m not as eloquent as you or Mary Oliver, but happy to be fans of both.
Never ever underestimate your eloquence and gift as writer Susan – I won’t let you do that. I will say that I am so appreciative of your comment and believe that yes, we’re going to be a-ok.
Dear, dear, dear Mimi. This silly old wild goose has found his way home (after a marvellous holiday en France) – and I’m stunned, absolutely stunned, by all that you have written above. You see, dear one, the inordinately generous things you say about me are precisely what I believe to be true about YOU – and oh so very much truer of you than me!
You know, Mimi, you really do give me hope for a better world. When human life flourishes everywhere in the same way that – under your influence – your many friends flourish, then the Karma truck will have safely reached her destination, delivering her precious cargo to bright new realities.
Meanwhile, how could you possibly be so completely generous? And how can you have so many beautiful friends such as those who’ve commented so kindly above? Newly returned, life is on the hectic side for a week or two, but I’ll find a way, and will try to say, on my own blog, some glad day just what I think you mean for all of us.
Till then: tell the gorgeous Sir Bogey from me that he’s one of the luckiest little guys on the planet. And – with all my heart, for you – and with and for your lovely correspondents named above – THANK YOU. Thank you. With love xx
Hi Simon – welcome home!!! Please don’t thank me for something which was at core, my thank you to you. You think far more of my core than is really there, I think – but again, this isn’t about me. I hope your re-entry though hectic, is relatively manageable and that all is well. With much love..xo