Online Friends

I’ve written before about my online connections–both the rich friendships I’ve made and my reluctance to be so public.

Today I want to talk about a connection to someone I don’t know– author Patti Digh. I bought her book Life is a Verb about four years ago, and it resonated immediately. I started following her blog and then on twitter, also purchasing her book What I Wish for You. I haven’t taken her Verb Tribe class, yet, but that’s on my list, too.

You know how a stranger often feels like they could be a good friend? That’s what happened to me with Patti.

So when I read recently that her husband had been diagnosed with cancer and there was a fundraising drive on to help with expenses, I immediately clicked over and donated.

Helping to save a life. This becomes the best, most profound way our networks serve us.

She includes a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye on her blog today, one that will carry me for a long time.


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

-Naomi Shihab Nye