Like most parents, I often ponder how I am doing at my job. I realize that even the most sincere efforts by my husband and myself are not enough to do it all – the list of responsibilities is unimaginably long. So if I had to choose one thing to impart to my children, out of all the important life lessons to give them, what would I choose?

I’ve concluded that if my children understand the importance of good company and divine friendship, I will have done my job well.

Paramhansa Yogananda said, “Whether one becomes a saint or a sinner is to a great extent determined by the company he keeps.” (from The Essence of Self-Realization recorded and compiled by Swami Kriyananda)

Our friends shape our thinking, influence our choices and touch every part of our lives. Divine friendship reaches deep into the soul, and is not dependent on common interests, age, gender, or other outward definitions.

My daughter and I recently enjoyed a fun afternoon with a group of friends from the Portland Ananda family, or sangha. We met at the pottery shop and spent hours decorating our chosen pieces. The outing happened to fall on my birthday so it became a birthday celebration as well.

Several times during the afternoon, as I listened to the cheerful, encouraging words and the laughter, I offered a grateful prayer for the opportunity to see my daughter surrounded by those beautiful souls. There were 8 of us, ranging from 10 years old to 70, with very few outward reasons to be friends. Our love for God and the desire to reach for the highest potential within is what defined our connection.

I want my children to feel the joy of friends who uplift and inspire with just a glance, so I have steered them into the company of such people from the time they were little. Being part of the Ananda family has provided many opportunities to be with saints-in-the-making, but such experiences also open the heart and enable us to see great souls everywhere we go.

We don’t always have a choice about who we must spend time with, and that is another lesson. But if our children learn to choose friends who have spiritual insight and wisdom, who value kindness and clarity, and who practice making their inward aspirations a reality, they will have a lifetime of blessings.

Teach your children that time spent with great souls is never wasted, it is an invitation that God cannot resist – divine light and love will flow into every circumstance that life can offer.

In divine friendship,