Friendships…such an important part of life. When God considered the first human he had created, it came to his mind, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” So he equipped our first parents to sustain relationships, many different relationships, friendship being one of them. From a young age we know about it. Children walk in bunches. Gradually they will form closer relationships and make friends.
Friendships can be the source of much joy. They can also be problematic. A promise is implied: we care for each other, we will get to know each other, we are fond of each other without them becoming love-relationships. Friendships need time to grow and mature. Their beginnings are often hesitant and tender, sometimes not even by design. The French writer, Saint-Exupery, in his book, The Little Prince, catches the beauty of friendship in the form of a fable. The Little Prince meets the Little Fox. They sit down but keep distance carefully. The Little Fox suggests that they be friends. The boy answers, “We are different; I am afraid, you are afraid…” The fox answers, “You look at me askance, very slowly, and we be very quiet. Then after a long time you come next to me and talk to me, very softly, and then we are friends…”
Loneliness remains a painful hardship all around us. “All the lonely people, where have they come from?” sang the Beatles. Nixon was a lonely man. Walter Hickel said of him, “Nixon was a brilliant analyst but he lacked a heart with an antenna.” Friendships never stand alone. Friendship is a special room in the bigger house of relationships. The tasks of elders and educators are many. One of them is relationship-building, community-building. It's a challenge that is urgent but also elusive. Elders and other congregational leaders should consult each other: what can we do to advance good relationships among our people? From there on the members will do the rest themselves.