Albert Sweitzer has been quoted as saying, “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” I admit that a while back I went through quite a dry spell. One would have been hard pressed to find a smoldering ember amongst the ashes of my mundane life. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my family and friends. My life practically brims over with goodness. Perhaps it was the sameness of my days that deadened me. Or the predictability. I’d always been a free spirit and a bit of a wild-child, regrettably so at times. Pre-motherhood, that is. Through a set of circumstances that I now see as more providence than happenstance, I began regularly conversing with Laura. As we chatted, I felt the phenomenon that Sweitzer described taking place within my own spirit. It didn’t matter if we were discussing deep spiritual truths or a recipe for home-made laundry detergent; our chats were comfort food for my withered soul. It’s not that Laura and I were able to freely communicate because we had so much in common. Actually, we stand on opposite sides of the fence regarding the lion’s share of issues. I am conservative. She is liberal. Worshipping at church is a huge part of my life. Laura celebrates her spirituality in a completely different manner. The list of reasons why many would say that we would not, or should not, be friends is rather lengthy. Oh, and did I happen to mention that she was married to my husband? That’s right, ladies. She’s the ex. And please don’t get me wrong, it would be a lie to say that our last ten years of matrimony have been all lollipops and peaches-and-cream between Laura and me. I’m certain she would agree that we’ve hit our share of rough patches over the years and performed the awkward dance of seizing each other up that only the ex and the new spouse can fully comprehend. Ex-wife or not, the better I got to know Laura, the more I was drawn to her. The way that she lives her live with dogged intentionality and strives for simplicity inspired me. I found her openness, candor and humor refreshing beyond words. Also, she is the only person I know who shuns electronics and chooses to make her home a computer and cell phone-free haven. Instead of frittering away the hours with time-consuming electronics, Laura’s energy is spent, reading, gardening, relating to her loved ones, and creating uniquely beautiful works of art. The message she recorded for her answering machine sums her up nicely. “I can’t answer your call right now because I’m busy living my life.” Upon reflection, I came to realize that I’d inadvertently filled my social circle with companions that share my beliefs, worship as I do, and hold fast to my political and social convictions. In doing so, I wonder how many human gems I’ve allowed to slip by. How many roses had I unwittingly weeded from my friendship patch? My kinship with Laura has taught me to step out of my box and enjoy the people that God has placed in my path, regardless of our dissimilarities or the back story. A genuine friend is difficult to find. The kind who still thinks you are a good egg, even if you are slightly cracked. If you are fortunate enough to experience that special click with someone, even if they are the ex or a person that society would be more comfortable if you frowned upon, I recommend that instead you embrace them and enjoy. Life is simply too short and true friends too rare to do otherwise.