Many years ago, I went to summer camp and sang this ditty: “Friends, friends, friends. We will always be. Whether in fair or in dark, stormy weather, our camp will keep us together, the wide and blue, we will ‘ere be true. Love will pervade us ’til death separate us, we’re friends, friends, friends…” (Yes, it’s a real song!) https://www.ultimatecampresource.com/camp-songs/sentimental-camp-songs/friends-friends-friends/
Friendship – having friends – has to be one of the most cherished and valuable gifts of my life. However, having and keeping friends is not always an easy feat. So today, I wanted to take a moment to give a shout out to the institution of friendship, and discuss the spiritual, healing and nourishing power of friendship.
I have been blessed to have many friends – both old and new – over the years of my life. My oldest friend whom I met at camp, now lives in New Mexico. Life has taken us on divergent paths so that once a year phone conversation never feels like it is enough. Another dear friend, who I also met at a different summer camp has also been reduced to a few holiday cards and maybe a text. The love remains, but it’s hard to keep friendships long distance. It’s possible however, it takes tremendous commitment, time and dedication to keep up the friendships. I have found that through working full time, raising a family and all of the other time constraints, I have had to work hard to even have the few friends I do. So today I want to celebrate my friends whom I do not get to see but still celebrate and cherish in my heart.
Friendship Helps Us Learn About Ourselves
I have a friend, Susan, whom I met many years ago in Nashville. I waited on her during a business lunch back in 1992. The came in right before my shift was to end, and I spent the afternoon, watching them carry on and enjoy the spirits on Susan’s company tab. Watching them and listening to them laugh and joke, I knew Susan and I would make great friends. Don’t ask me how I knew – I just did. And Susan, ten years my senior, gave me her card and told me to call her. So, I waited a few days and did so. She blew me off as being too busy and I didn’t think anything of it. I just kept trying. Finally, after three phone calls, with her always being too busy, I just finally said, “Look, do you want to be friends or not?” It wasn’t like me to do that. It was clearly Divinely inspired and my frankness shocked both of us. But she agreed to come have lunch with me and as we both sort of intuitively knew, a solid friendship was born.
Camaraderie and Comfort Zones
Sure enough, when we finally got together, we knew we had to have been sisters in a past life. Maybe it was because we were both displaced New Yorkers in the South, maybe it was because we had no other local family around – whatever the reason, we quickly bonded. Susan had just bought a house and asked if I had any interest in renting a room. Her mother was worried about her living alone and my mother was pleased I had found someone who could seemingly look after me. I was all of 23 years old and trying my hand at living as a musician. What I didn’t realize was how transformative, living with Susan would be in my formative adult life. Susan was just naturally a collector of friends. She would have dinner parties and invite people over, also including me in her circle of ever expanding friends. It wasn’t normally my thing, to get out of my comfort zone to socialize with strangers, but Susan pushed me to expand my concept of friendship. And that manner of inviting others to celebrate life with her, taught me to do so as well in my later years.
Friendship Takes Work
Although living with Susan was as easy as breathing – it wasn’t without tribulation. We had our fights, our spat and our disagreements, but fighting fairly, letting both sides have their say and coming out the other side, helps build trust and intimacy. Knowing that you can be vulnerable with another and trusting that they will not hurt you is the basis of friendship. And even though we only lived together for about two years, we taught and reinforced to each other how to have and be a friend. It was hard work at times, but it also was fraught with a lot of laugher, a lot of great memories and some hard work on both of our parts.
The Value Of Friendship
I’d like to think we both grew a tremendous amount during the time we lived together. Susan taught me how to ‘show up’ for another person and live with honesty and integrity. I tried to teach her how to be mindful and not take things for granted. (Okay, I was a bit of a brat – and used to prank her.) Once, I put a bowl of cherries and printed the word, “Life” on an index card and placed it inside the refrigerator. I wanted to see how long it would take her to get the joke. The cherries would probably have rotted if I hadn’t prompted her to think about it, but eventually she did. I also once removed the ornamental plastic shields from the refrigerator doors just to see how long it would take for her to notice the difference. She eventually did realize that the color of the refrigerator had changed and she was afraid someone had stolen her original refrigerator! (See, I did mention I was a pain to live with – but we did laugh eventually about it!)
Having and being a friend is invaluable. I got to dance and celebrate with her at her wedding a few months after I moved out. I mourned with her at the passing of her mother. She celebrated with me from afar at the births of my children. No holiday has ever passed that I don’t recall some wonderful memory from that time period of my life. my life would have been less joyous had I not pursued that friendship. I am so grateful today that she is still my friend even if we’ve been reduced to a few birthday and holiday cards and facebook mentions.
If you have an old friend that you haven’t connected with in awhile – pick up the phone and call, leave a message on Facebook or just send a heartfelt email. Then let me know in the comments that you did so and let’s celebrate friendship together. We need the warmth and nourishing power of friends more than ever. And until we meet again, may you be blessed along your spiritual journey!
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