The Values Essays

The Value of Friendship

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Value of Friendship

We name ourselves Kindred Spirits. Even as their pastor, I expect little beyond meeting once a month, studying spiritual material and sharing thoughts about our faith journeys. Oh, ye, of low expectations. Ten years later, now living in three states, we feed still each other's souls and meet routinely.

Mary, a many-years-sober alcoholic red headed tri-athlete, influences the group to select a book modeled on the AA Twelve Steps. This nitty-gritty guide demands that we dig deep and share courageously. So we do.

Three biological sisters, Rhonda, Lisa and Martha, predispose the circle toward blood-like commitment. Rosemary, transplanted from Maryland, seeks local substitute for her own close family. Tracy and I know little of what "normal" families do so our mouths water with hope of quenching a thirst. Mary's years of broken relationships steel her determination to "keep it real."

We hail from four different decades---thirties to sixties---it matters not. We perhaps would not choose each other as friends under other circumstances. But life tosses out experiences that bond you to each other or drive you apart. Three graduations, four marriages, one baby, one divorce, more deaths than any small band should have to bear, romantic relationship breakups too numerous to count and more surgeries than we care to admit---the flotsam and jetsam of seven lives over ten years inextricably weaves us together. Our raucous laughter occasionally causes others us to ask "what can possibly be that funny?" Tears and sorrows necessitate communal distribution; their weight too much to be born alone.

What makes these friendships work? Trust, accountability and a fierce commitment of time. Teaching each other to live authentically requires all three and more. Have you opened that bank account in your own name like you promised? Why not? That's not your problem; give it back to your husband. What are you doing to care for your health this month? Chocolate doesn't count. Are you pushing yourself too hard at work and for what reason? Is this guy enriching your life or an avoidance of something else? Didn't we commit to a full day of retreat? Why are you saying you need to go back to work? Home? Shopping? Are all calendars clear for third full week in July next summer?

Here's a mini-list of what this flock gives me: Mary teaches me every day how to deal with alcoholics in my past, present and future. Tracy shares with me the fun having daughters, so different from my sons and grandson. Rhonda models a stunning example of steadfastness and introversion, so lacking in my own life. Lisa shopped for clothes I wore to my son's funeral. Rosemary physically held me upright the day I resigned as their pastor after my son's death. And Martha introduced me to my soul-mate and husband.

Each woman's list, like mine above, recalls times when one of these companions on The Journey stretched herself across the chasm that divides souls and fashioned a friend.  

"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth."

Robert Southey

updated: 8 years ago


WowFriday, October 16th 2009 1:29PM

This is what I pray for - a group of friends - large or small - who are kindred spirits and that I can trust.  But I assume until I allow my self to trust other people that will be kind of hard.  I have tried, truly - but so far not much luck. Thanks for sharing.  It gives me hope.