July 2010

Friends

After church on Sunday, July 18th, Nora and I will be flying to southern California for two weeks of vacation with two relatively new friends.  Steve and Dorothy Larson live in Santa Ana, but we met them in Greece!  Nora and I were on a cruise in the Aegean Sea that started in Athens and ended at Istanbul.  In between we made a few stops at beautiful island ports.  This was our very first cruise; we booked it as a gift to ourselves for our 25th wedding anniversary.  While on the cruise, we met Dorothy and Steve.  They were about our same age and they were celebrating their honeymoon.  We spent some time together and found that we really enjoyed each other.  We became friends.  That was back in 1998.  Since then we have taken cruises together every five years for our respective anniversaries (though we are 25 years ahead of them!).  Steve had a son living in NYC so they came east to visit a couple of times a year and we usually spent some time with them.  They came to our son’s wedding last year.  We had planned to go out west to see them two years ago, but then (as you remember) I found myself in the hospital for three weeks instead.  So finally we are making our way out to see them in their home and we will get to see Yosemite National Park with them and have many wonderful experiences together.

            I was thinking about this because I know that as an introvert it is not so easy for me to make new friends.  Nora is much better at that, so she is able to help me do so.  I would have missed the opportunity to enlarge my circle of friends, but for Nora.  I am grateful to her.  I am also keenly aware that life tends toward isolation.  Our circle of relationships in general, and our friendships in particular, is generally shrinking, especially after we reach midlife (whenever that is!).  Jobs change, people move, illness strikes, death comes, our circle shrinks.  Life moves us toward isolation, unless we are actively reaching out to establish new relationships, to make new friends, to expand our circle.  That isn’t always easy, and it is harder for some of us than it is for others.  Yet it is so important!

            Life is all about relationships.  Friends are precious gifts.  To have good friends with whom to share one’s joys and sorrows, to share life, is to be rich indeed.  Our desire for such friendships may account for some part of the popularity of TV shows like “Friends” or other ensemble series.  We may be living our need for friends vicariously through such shows.  We begin to feel like we know the characters in them intimately; they become our “friends”.  I have heard many people say such things.  How much richer our lives are when we have real friends and not just electronic projections.  It may be harder though, more work, to interact and relate to someone in the flesh than someone we can “turn off” when we don’t want to watch anymore.

            Real friendships require commitment.  They take time and energy.  We need to nurture them.  And lest our circle of friends shrink into solitude, we need to be open to new encounters.  We need to extend ourselves and go looking for them.  I made two new friends today.  Two weeks ago, I took the initiative to call the Spring Valley Methodist Church and speak to the pastor there, the Rev. LaGretta Bjorn.  I invited myself to visit her, and she graciously welcomed me.  I went to her church today and spent two hours with her and with the Rev. Claire Lofgren, the vicar of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.  I really enjoyed being with them, and I think it was mutual.  I am hopeful that we will become good friends and not just colleagues.

            Friendship is a spiritual gift.  It is a quality of relationship grounded in a deeper sense of our common humanity and our interdependence.  It carries the possibility of reflecting our relationship with God.  One of the most astonishing affirmations in our scriptures is God’s desire that we become God’s friends.  Abraham was heralded as the “Friend of God”.  In his last hours with the disciples, Jesus called them to be no longer his students, but his friends.  May it be so for us.  May we experience ourselves as friends of Jesus, through whom we have been befriended by God.  And may that Spirit of friendship be at work in us and through us to expand the circle of friends with whom we share and celebrate life.

Comments

Friendship

I give thanks to God to have had the Williams family in my circle of friends for many years- and to have experienced God's love in their spriit of friendship. A true gift in my life. I wish we lived closer and  could attend your church more often. I hope you are having a wonderful and well-deserved vacation in California.

Friendship

Thank you for these kind words...  Who is this from???

RSVP

Rob