A (Sappy) Love Song to My Friends
In the words of C.S. Lewis in Four Loves:
Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.” … It is when two such persons discover one another, when, whether with immense difficulties and semi-articulate fumblings or with what would seem to us amazing and elliptical speed, they share their vision – it is then that Friendship is born. And instantly they stand together in an immense solitude.
And so is the beginning of a journey together.
I remember quite vividly and with great reverence my first best friend. I was in seventh grade when we met. The first time I went to her house a few weeks later, we walked to a creek and searched for rocks that we could wash and admire together. It was with great relief and surprise that I realized I had found a kindred spirit- a lover of rocks and the magic of the world to give them to us.
The friendship ended when I changed schools in high school. By then, we had already started to drift apart. Like anyone whom I have ever loved, she still resides within me. A critical part of my development. A source of seeing myself as worthy of love and as not alone.
In my early twenties, I floated in and out of friendships. There were few I held onto with such fervor as that first kindred soul. And like that first time, it often wasn’t until our relationships were put at risk before I realized how special they were.
I have written before about my “falling upward” experience (in the words of Richard Rohr), or as modern psychology would call it, my post-traumatic growth, and how in that experience, I found my relationships were much richer. True, deep and profound friendships that I needed were a by-product of that process. By-product seems too dismissive of a word, but certainly the deepening of these friendships was not my intention at the time. They were simply something that had to be. Part of my process and theirs.
C.S. Lewis writes about friendship, “To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all the loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it.” Why is this?
Lewis hypothesized that perhaps it is because so few people have true friendship. Mathew Fox might say it is because we value so highly the romantic notion of erotic love that we place it above all else and fail to see how large love truly is, that it comes in many forms.
In some ways, humans have made the world so small. Even as technology allows our minds to have access to all of the information created by humanity and contact with those a world apart physically, for myself at least, the world can be isolating at times. The myth of individualism is pervasive.
I can do this on my own.
I am strong and independent.
I am in charge of my own life- the good or bad that comes to me is a result of who I am.
Well, maybe… But maybe the truth is humans need people. It is very hard to build deep and abiding connections with others if I think that I don’t have a need in the world for another human being. Brene Brown‘s research on vulnerability is a testament to that fact. She states, “We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”
It is tempting to feel the pull of independence when I am killing it at life and want to have full credit for the goodness. But when I am broken open, man, that is another story.
In these moments, I feel deeply the ways I need- when a friend pulls me back from the brink of my own darkness with a tightly grasping hand and lets me know I’m not alone. One of the most beautiful articulations of this moment was written to me by my sister, Jen.
Hear me deep,
Let my love and words sink into your broken pieces,
You will be ok,
You hold within you everything you need,
You are strong, so much stronger than you at this moment believe,
I will be your strength if it must live outside of itself for now,
I will always be,
As you are to me,
I will be your mirror in this moment since yours is so broken and skewed,
You are beautiful,
A presence of true peace
These words, her grasping hand, were the only things that could have healed me. She was able to say to me: I know you, I believe in you, I trust you. What a gift this is. Seeing your best self reflected when you feel your worst.
In Kahlil Gibran‘s words, too, in friendship, the sweet is made sweeter, “in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” This I have experienced as well.
From my sister in this moment:
From my dear friend Mel when she and I pulled through a dark time together to ultimately arrive on the shore, grasping hands. The day when we walked through the grass with no shoes on, laid down under a tree, and stared at the sun, the blue sky, the trees, just reveling in the beauty of the world for a moment of joy, a moment of healing.
From my friend Harmony, over many years and on many occasions, when she has played for me our song “Time after Time” by Cyndi Lauper. Each time, we sing along to the words, in awe of what we have been and done for one another in seventeen years. My life has been sweetened by our our own sappy soundtrack:
If you fall I will catch you, I will be waiting
Time after time
This post is a sappy love song to all of my friends. Because there are not enough songs about friendship. We should have ballads for friends, days dedicated to appreciating them, poems written in their honor.
I will bookend this post with the words of C.S. Lewis on friendship in dedication to all those friends I love- those named here and those unnamed:
In … friendship this appreciative love is… so great and so firmly based that each member of the circle feels, in his secret heart, humbled before the rest. Sometimes he wonders what he is doing there among his betters. He is lucky beyond desert to be in such company…. when the whole world, and something beyond the world, opens itself to our minds as we talk… Life — natural life — has no better gift to give. Who could have deserved it?”
In what moments has friendship shown itself as love to you? How has it enriched your life?
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