Once I had a friend who lived in a small town and was exposed in a terrible scandal. She was miserable and found that many of her “friends” would actually cross the street to avoid her. In an effort to console, I told her that one advantage to her wretched situation is that now she knew who her real friends were. Her response: “Who cares! I never really wanted to know that particular piece of information.” I have always valued friendship and have been a person who has contributed a significant amount of time and energy in cultivating and maintaining relationships. In spite of all that effort, I never truly understood the profound experience of friends in the midst of suffering. My email, voicemail and the texts on my mobile phone were full of tender and thoughtful communications in the aftermath of my father’s death. It was remarkable how consoling those messages were to my broken heart. Upon my return home from my father’s funeral there was a stack of greeting cards, mass intentions and small gifts. Each contact carried with it a ping of direct loving energy.
While I am still attempting to decode the feelings and sensations of suddenly loosing a loving parent, my immediate thought is how alone one feels – a major touchstone, a completely reliable source of unconditional love vanishes and one feels disoriented. So suddenly you’re alone, shocked and frightened and then the voices of friends shower over you like music, like the smell of freshly baked bread coming out of the oven, like the voice of your physician telling you he was mistaken and you are going to be just fine. “Well, so what,” says my disheartened friend from the past, “what am I supposed to do with all THAT?” Well this: pick up the phone and make the call. Go get the card and spend five minutes composing a sincere message, send the text, buy the present, do it today, because you will never know the tremendous feeling of safety and perspective you will bring to someone you love. It changes everything~Because you have the Lord for your refuge; you have made the Most High your stronghold. No evil shall befall you, nor shall affliction come near your tent, for to his angels he has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways. Upon their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. Psalm 91