One of my best teachers is a girl with wheat-colored hair and green eyes that spark with delight.  She is a poet, world explorer, and horse enthusiast. Because of the West Hills Community, I know this little girl, her dear parents and her adorable little sister. I always look forward to time with my friend, her wisdom and whimsy—and how she runs up to hug me. We are an unlikely pair of friends, at least upon first glance. There is fifty years and six months between us.


Once, she calculated this gap with a Hello Kitty pencil on a paper bag—fifty years, six months, and seven days, to be exact. Because of all these days, months and years, my little friend worries that I might not be around to see her marry or meet her children. I promise to try to live long enough to knit booties for her first child—as good reason to take care of myself as any. I want to see what this little girl becomes, or at least the beginning of her becoming. I know what she is now—quite wonderful.


My friend is a lifesaver. I don’t mean one of those rainbow-colored candies with a hole in the middle. There is no hole in the middle of my friend.  Light radiates out from her center.  She brightens the world; she connects me with the Light.  She has also learned graceful hospitality from her parents who are caring, authentic people who love people.


Several years ago, I was dealing with a crisis. My husband was away on an extended business trip and was unavailable, even by phone. I needed support, but I couldn’t have thought for what to ask, had I the wherewithal to do so. When I was feeling my lowest, my little friend’s father telephoned with a spur of the moment dinner invitation. After agreeing to join them, I burst into tears. Approaching their door, I dabbed at my eyes, hoping the tear-stained redness wasn’t obvious.


Beaming her joy, my little friend opened the door, chanting my name with operatic gusto – over and over again! Soon, my sad heart was salved with the good medicine of play, laughter, and a meal shared in good company. I had new strength to meet the challenges facing me.


My young friend continues to teach me. She reveals the temporal joy even in difficult times. These momentary joys are cumulative medicine. With these moments she offers hospitality that heals my heart and strengthens my soul. About these spiritual matters (and much else) the lovely children in our community are poets and savants.

—Claire Nail