If I’ve been on your Social Media radar lately, you know that I just had a week-long reunion with my so-called “childhood friend.” Actually that was a convenient phrase for online usage, though not really the truth. I met Loui when my Dad took a pastorate in Muncie, Indiana with The Church of the Nazarene in 1956. Her name was Louanna then, and she was four years my senior – my brother’s pal. Because our parents were also friends, I spent a fair amount of time in her home over the nine years we knew each other. And because we went to church three times a week (every week) and sometimes more, we knew each other in that pseudo-intimate way that habitual, shared space can create. I admired Louanna’s fluency at the piano, and her lovely, sensual voice blending in trio with her parents. But what stayed with me through the years, tucked away like a nearly forgotten jewel, was her humor—her gift of saying something delightful and pithy, as a beguiling smile played at her lips, head tilted slightly. But Louanna and I were never really friends.

Then last January, the bulk of our lives having passed without each other’s knowledge, I received an email from Loui Cronholm—no one I knew. She was writing to request an astrology reading and said she had read my books. She spoke with particular eloquence about the impact of my mother’s memoir, “Houses of My Consciousness – Waking From Religion to Spirit.” With curiosity peaked, I wrote back. As synchronicity would have it, my mother was visiting when her next email arrived, revealing her identity. “Mom, “I said, my voice already shaking, “I just got an email from Louanna Brown. She’s read our book!”  When you write a memoir for those you pray will deeply relate to your journey, you never imagine the reader as a heartbeat from that past.

Months of lengthy, compelling emails ensued. By the time I stood at the United gate in Kona, my eyes were tearing again and again with gratitude for such an impossible moment. Loui and I had grown up hearing about people meeting “on the other side,” and now here we were—about to be reunited in our own Hawaii Heaven.

The nature of our week together is a tale far too overflowing to be contained within the walls of a blog. But here’s a piece of it that both intrigued and astonished as the week unfolded:We greeted each other wearing the same hair style and carrying almost identical purses. Having e-convened about diet beforehand, we already knew our trip to the grocery store would be easy. We also knew that we were both writers, had both moved from Indiana to California (hers was a direct “flight,” mine had a couple of short stopovers). But as the days unfurled, so did the parallels. We both had two boys (she a girl as well), and each of us had one boy that was a professional drummer. That same son on either side was also a guitarist and a singer-songwriter—which meant we had both been privy to the odd and distinct pleasure of being a long-term “Band Mom.” (Ever hear two women in their sixties avidly discussing their sons’ band names?) Some days we walked out of our respective rooms wearing the same color scheme and/or style. And give me a break! Let loose in the used book store, we wore out the phrase “Me too!” Not to mention the parallel universe of favorite flicks that we had no time to watch. And about that sense of humor I remembered in the adolescent Louanna? It's not only alive and well in Loui, but plays off mine like ping-pong champs in heat.

Born four years apart, we clearly weren’t separated at birth—yet we were having the kind of experience so often reported by those who were. Ours, we came to realize, was another kind of separation: a moving apart before the truth of our souls was born in us. We went separate ways before we had any idea that our own spiritual paths ran far, far outside the religion into which we had been born—the very religion that brought us together. My mother has sometimes used a phrase, “the last for which the first was made.” That’s Loui and me. We came together all those years ago for a reason…a reason that is just now revealing itself. 

And for that, as Loui would say, “We are grateful, we are blessed.”

Are you aware of the soul at work or play in you, creating experiences that you couldn’t have imagined…in yourself or with others?

The Journey Is Always Better Together,