Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Fr. Dale Matson

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15
Close friends are really extended family. The connection is so close that the phrase “kith and kin” is intended to encompass both friends and family. Some folks by estrangement, age or disaster have no family and thus their friends of necessity become their family.
Friends are collectables. Friendships are cultivated over the period of a lifetime. To some extent friendships with others have helped make us who we are. They are an external form of DNA. I can still remember permanently changing the way I made the number four in response to the way Tom, a fourth grade friend made his fours. I lost track of Tom after he returned from Viet Nam.
Friendships are similar to annual and perennial plants. Intense and intimate school friendships sometimes wither and die within a short period following graduation. The perennial friendships survive the seasons and transplanting. Like plants however the friendships require tending. Frequently it is not a reciprocal effort. “I was just going to call you.” I was just thinking about you.” Isn’t that the frequent response to a phone call? I am one of those folks who contacts the kith and kin. Sometimes the ego says, “Isn’t it their turn to call you”? No matter, they rarely if ever have. Sometimes one needs the tenacity of an obsessive compulsive and the detective skills of Sherlock Holmes to keep track of the friends without tap roots.
Friendships like wine, improve with age. It is not just a shared history together and a willingness to be interested in their life as it is now. Friends help fill in the outline of each other’s lives as we look back and reminisce. Each new conversation with an old friend reveals new riches in an old stream bed. There are also reassurances. “You were not as bad as you remember yourself to be.” There is a Godly grace that has kept you together. There is a refuge in both shared suffering and laughter. Old friends provide perspective. “You look just like your father as I remember him.”
There is a kindness and a charity to the conversation. There is so much distance and so many years since we have been in the same room together but with telephones and letters and now e-mail the pilot light of an old friendship is kept burning.
I have been blessed with a handful of close friends who have remained in touch with each other for over fifty years and two friends I have known for over sixty years. With our parents now gone, they have become part of our adopted lineage. Most begin their last name with “M” also. We were seated alphabetically in school. Maybe I would be different if my last name began with an “A” or a “Z”.
There are things that they have said to us that has helped change the course of our life and interrupted the trajectory of our fall. Our friends have been such a grace gift of God. I now sign my correspondence or end a conversation with, “I love you.” or “God bless you.” It is so strongly felt and so easy to say now. Jesus has taught us who God is and our friends have helped us to understand who Jesus is.

“What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief’s to bear! Joseph M. Scriven, 1855

No comments: