22 September 2008

Curmudgeonly musings on friendship

One of my sons once came back from a trip and announced to me, "I made a lot of new friends on this trip." "No, you didn't," I responded. When he objected, I explained.

Friendship requires that you share a common life. The joys and sorrows, the trials and triumphs of friends are one and the same. Friends share a common mind: the Lord told his disciples, "I do not call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." A friend gives his life for his friends, "Greater love hath no man than this--that he lay down his life for his friends."

Friendships are revealed in the tough times of life. No roof leaks on a sunny day; it takes a downpour to reveal which ones truly protect and which ones only seem to.

We become like the people we befriend. It's inevitable that since persons exist in relations, those who share a common mind, a common life, and the same trials will resemble each other more and more--even when time and space separates them. I saw that clearly when I went to one of my father's Sixth Armored Division reunions. Their bodies were old and bent, but their eyes shone with pride and with tears as they remembered their common bond.

The word "friend" still means something to me--something dear and precious.

That is why I cannot use it to describe relationships with former companions who took the other fork in the road when the time of crisis came. It is not disdain, but love of truth to recognize that without a common life there is no true friendship. Affection? Yes. Sadness? Of course. But friendship? That cannot be the case, where there is no common mind. "Let us love one another, that with one mind we may confess..."

That, too, is why I am going to re-examine my "Facebook" friendships. Facebook tells me that I have 93 friends.
> Some of them are former students;
> Some of them are my family members;
> Some of them are friends of my family members;
> Some of them are truly friends--people with whom we've shared life for more than 20 years.
> And some are newfound, priests and people with whom I have the prospect of sharing one life, one mind.

But as time goes on, the bond with some former students grows dimmer. I need to release them, because as important as they are, I cannot attend to the changes in the lives of those I truly continue to live with.

And now some people I've never met, people with whom I have no common life or even realistic chance of a common life, want to befriend me on "Facebook." I bear them no ill will. I have simply decided not to add them as friends, because I want to focus, in the time I have remaining, on those with whom I have some real connection.

The relation between "acquaintance" and "friend" is like the relation between "house" and "home." As Edgar Guest penned, "It takes a heap o' livin, to make a house a home."

1 comment:

-C said...

I see that lots of people smarter and more humble than I am have elected not to respond to this post.

Except to say that I disagree with parts of it, I have decided to follow their example.

I believe I said all I needed to say about it for now on Emily's blog.