In Honor of My Friends

In Honor of My Friends

My neighbor and friend did me the honor of dropping in and sharing a couple of hotdogs from his barbeque. We enjoyed each other’s company for a few minutes while we compared notes on the joy of friendships.

For sixty years a very close friend, John, and I have shared new discoveries, compared notes on the joy of raising of our children as well as professional wisdom, and personal struggles. The depth of the friendship has been proven of late as we supported each other through the troubled experiences of our beloved wives’ terminal illnesses and their quiet passing.

My friend, Bob and I, both in our nineties, both physically handicapped are supporting each other with daily ‘phone calls of encouragement and support. For half a century, we have been available to each other in times of triumph and of personal loss and bereavement, serious illnesses and near-death struggles.

Countless people have become loyal friends over the years. Mutually, each of us has filled empty spaces, brought joy and peacefulness. We have encouraged each other in creative projects. We have stood by each other in times of personal crises. We have loved each other with gentleness and kindness and understanding. We have not judged each other. We have encouraged each other to understand ourselves, to grow in wisdom, to avoid the turbulent rapids.

Abe and I have encouraged each other in times of sickness and high drama crises. We have helped each other redefine complicated relationships and turn them into creative, growth-producing experiences. We have accepted each other unconditionally.

Betrayal is part of the risk in close friendships and when it happened it was brutal, painful, and shattering. On occasion the rift could be healed and turned into a positive experience. On occasion the wounds were too deep, and the relationship was permanently and painfully ended, always at a great loss to everyone.

The hard work of reconciliation is rough, uncertain, and excruciatingly painful. But the result makes it worth the humiliation and discomfort. A new relationship has emerged out of the ashes that was rich and profound.

In my experience, loyalty, acceptance without judgment, but support with kindness, infused with love, makes for friendships that are lasting and mutually enriching, providing a sense of security and safety, a rich soil for emerging maturity and wisdom.

As Paul said it so well, “Love is kind….”

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