There is an interesting story to me and Janine. Way back in the early days of Internet – back in the early 1990s – there were a few of us with an interest in contemplative spirituality who found each other. It was fascinating to be conversing, in real time, with people all over the world. There was a discussion group called merton-l, hosted on a server at a university in West Virginia and dedicated to discussions around Thomas Merton and contemplative spirituality. Being one of the first of the Internet-savvy, I was also one of the first to discover and join this group. Soon after a woman named “Janine” was regularly posting.

Janine was smart. Really smart. She questioned just about everything so that you didn’t get away with sloppy thinking or writing. I didn’t know much about her – maybe she was from NY? or was it Armenia? I especially appreciated her insights into Orthodox thought.

Anyway, years went by. Merton-l fizzled out. But then Facebook came along. Because of my interest in the poetry of Robert Lax, I had struck up some conversations with an Orthodox bishop who was also fascinated with Lax. The bishop lived in NYC. One day, in the midst of one of these commentaries, a “Janine” piped up and said, “do I know you???” Sure enough, it was the same Janine from way back in the old merton-l internet days. Small world. Janine and I became Facebook friends.

By now I had figured out that Janine and her husband lived sometimes in NYC and sometimes in San Francisco, depending on where her husband’s university teaching job was taking him (NYU or Berkeley). I told Janine that we were coming to San Francisco. She called as soon as we got to the hotel and within minutes, there were Janine and Nick, in our lobby, waiting to give us a personal tour of San Francisco!

We all got along as if we had known each other forever and Janine put a beautiful knotted “prayer” bracelet on my wrist that I don’t think I will ever take off. It’s as if we were destined to know each other and be friends. I am forever grateful for her kindness and friendship

They showed us the Golden Gate Bridge and other places around San Francisco. I never realized how the bridge truly is a gateway out to the Pacific Ocean and into the magnificent city of San Francisco. There is nothing like having a native show you around their city.

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