At a cottage by a lake on the Precambrian shield we four longtime friends spent this weekend together. Raising our children, we sometimes even lived in the same neighbourhood. Over the years, we shared many concerns, cheers and tears. Now after 32 years ‘the kids’ are grown up and gone, and we were four adults alone together in a cottage — and a new era.
Our weekend in the country reminded me of all this. As I reflect on the road our friendship has travelled, I realize it has taught me a lot. Like the fact that a good friendship can take a certain amount of injury from time to time. The relationship does occasionally acquire wounds and bruises that need to be ‘kissed better’. And good friends are more than willing to spend time working-through issues that come up – and they do — or to dab a little reassuring ointment on the bonds as well.
Another lesson worth reflecting on is the beneficial effect of trusting in time. Not as in the traditional saying, “Time heals all wounds” (because it doesn’t), but in the sense that when a friendship has endured, you can have a certain amount of faith that the opportunity will eventually arise for nursing, processing, and strengthening. That equal partners in a friendship are ultimately willing to give it what it needs.
Now this is all assuming that the friendship was worth engaging in from the start. I often doubt that, among some of the people I know. They behave as if they aren’t friends at all, but have been somehow stuck together by circumstances beyond their control – like attending the same high school. But in our case, there has been much common interest, like a belief in the need for social change, and compassion for ‘the underdog’.
Our friendship has, on rare occasions, seemed to be about to burn out or disappear. But it never did. Always one or another of us would invest in it again, with another effort, another struggle of some kind. A willingness to see what time or patience or tentativeness – or talking through — might do for it. And here we are, still (and again) willing to engage in creating meals together, creating dialogues together, accommodating and forgiving, struggling about meanings. And that pattern of struggle and accommodation is what, in a sense, gives our friendship its own meaning. Its own patina.
We are able to laugh at ourselves and appreciate the underlying nature of the relationship we have. Like the Precambrian shield millions of years old underlying the centuries of pine needles that soften the walking together and the sparkling water in the lake that appears after the early morning mist. Somehow it all speaks of the richness of enduring friendship.
A very thoughtful piece, Fearlessanalyst. I read it very carefully, while thinking about friendships – why some endure and others are fleeting or fade. Without it ever being clearly stated, I think one becomes acutely aware of how others feel about the big picture of life, the need for compassion as well as the necessity for wariness when voting for a person who stands a chance of being at the helm of our country. These things take grit and, for me, it’s quickly apparent that some people simply aren’t willing to give time to the things that are vitally important. However I think we all have many people in our lives who understand the necessity of bringing up children who will have goals and ethics, will be kind, etc.Simply caring about other people and our planet is paramount when maintaining a friendship. Perhaps therein lies the glue that bonds us together.
I do hope you are right – but my dark side fears you may not be 🙂 I hope we live long enough to find out!!
My friendships that have endured are the ones we’ve both been willing to work through the misunderstandings, the fatigue and time warp. Those that aren’t invested gradually slip to the outer rings of my circle.
I find the same – though I don’t find a high proportion willing or able to do the working-through. I’ve known a large number of people who really don’t care for ‘the process’ – that probably says more about me than them 🙂
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When I was up at the cottage this summer, which is in Precambrian shield territory, I kept thinking about how old those rocks are. There is a local artist who has a cottage nearby and when I was chatting with him he told me that the rocks on the shield are over a billion years old. A BILLION! That is just so unfathomable to me, but also somehow comforting. Those rocks have been sitting there (in one form or another) for so long…kind of makes you realize that life is short. It’s best to surround yourself with people who are kind and compassionate, whenever possible. There’s lots of suffering in the world…I’m just trying to do my best not to contribute to it!
You’re probably also contributing to reducing the suffering! 🙂
These girls ARE idiots beuasce1.they want babies that cost money they don’t have, how the hell are they going to support these children they selfishly brought into the world-oh wait, never mind, the American taxpayer has them covered. 2. Children should not be born with a job. 3. Did they think about what it would do to their boyfriends (if not the homeless guy). No they didn’tYour head is in the clouds. You think you can do whatever you want and hope it flies.
John 1:23 John (the Baptist) replied in the words of the prheopt Isaiah:“I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’ I was raised Roman Catholic and came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior in the late 1970 s. Still there are many experiences and religious traditions that I value from my Catholic upbringing. I have always appreciated being taught that the Bible was, in fact, the inspired Word of God. Whenever I fly to New York, I always plan arrival such that I can make Mass & Communion at St. Pat’s. And, of course, there is no greater experience than to be at a Notre Dame football game in South Bend and watch the Fighting Irish Marching Band enter the stadium with 80,000 screaming fans. So, today, I fulfilled another favorite tradition and went to an Ash Wednesday Mass where ashes in the sign of the cross were scruffed on my forehead. The brief sermon came from a visiting minister who said when growing up, Lent always meant giving up things meat, sweets, movies etc. but that he had come to a new understanding. He now believes Lent is a time to decidedly make transformation in your relationship with God. It is not a time to punish oneself Jesus did all that was necessary at the Cross. No, Lent is a time to address obstacles that pose barriers to your relationship with God shining light on those secret sins that always seem to block our communion with Our Father.Ha! Last year I successfully gave up Diet Vanilla Coke that had become an obsession only to replace it with Diet Sierra Mist after Easter. This year will be different. There are obstacles that I plan to address starting today in order to further transform my life so that I have a closer relationship with God. For today, those ashes are a reminder of John the Baptists cry. Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!