How does one describe a friend? Is it possible to put words on the support and love friends give us in good times and bad? The Beatles remind us that “We Get by with a Little Help from Our Friends.” So does James Taylor in “You’ve Got a Friend.” Dionne Warwick and Friends (a.k.a, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and Elton John) tell us “That’s What Friends Are For.” And the 1980s sitcom “The Golden Girls” theme song (by the late Andrew Gold) exclaims, “Thank You for Being a Friend.”
And friendship is addressed in Scripture, including:
---Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter: whoever finds one has found a treasure. Faithful friends are beyond price; no amount can balance their worth (Sirach 6: 14-16).
---Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15: 13).
All of these attempt to describe relationships that, while sometimes appearing accidental or coincidental, are certainly more than chance meetings. Friendship is a gift and a mystery that often begins with a common interest, then moves far beyond the interest to a personal connection.
Many years ago when my children were young, there was wallpaper in one of the bedrooms that had whimsical drawings of little children and the caption, “To have a friend, be a friend.” How true this is! Connections with friends are precious. They require time and energy.
Good friends enhance our lives. They make us laugh and allow us to cry. They are with us late at night and they listen to our stories over and over until we are able to make sense of them.
And they can bring us to God. They do not have to share our religious beliefs, but when they bring out the best in us and encourage us to let our lights shine in the world, we know God is part of the process. The love between friends is unique and graced.
Good friends enhance our lives. They make us laugh and allow us to cry. They are with us late at night and they listen to our stories over and over. And they can bring us to God.
We are in the time of year when friends gather to witness with us some of life’s milestones: first Communions, confirmations, graduations and weddings. Friends put their lives aside to travel across town (sometimes across the country) to be with us. They bring gifts, share abundant food and toast the moment. They make the events all the more memorable and meaningful.
At a recent wedding shower I watched as women chatted, laughed and then drew into a circle around the bride-to-be to join in the opening of the presents. It was a wonderful moment of longtime friends happy to launch a young woman into the creation of a new family.
My family came together a few weeks ago for a baby shower and moved quickly the next morning to welcome the mother-to-be into the Church at an early morning liturgy as she received the sacraments of confirmation and first Eucharist. The same friends who had driven across town for the baby shower the afternoon before arrived smiling and ready to celebrate with us the next morning. I will keep the vision of that gathering in my mind for years to come.
As the invitations for the showers, weddings, graduations, first Communions and confirmations arrive, there is sometimes a tendency to wonder how you can fit one more thing into an already tight schedule. It is my experience that tight schedules are self-imposed and therefore subject to change.
The answer is simple: Dust off the dancing shoes, hop in the car and enjoy these days that are, with doubt, days “the Lord has made!”