Monday, August 24, 2015

A Recipe for Friendship

Giotto's Wedding at Cana
Paul in his letter to the Christian community at Ephesus speaks about the relationship between husband and wife.  And while alluding to the Greco-Roman household codes of his day, Paul transcends these codes and compares marriage to the relationship of Jesus Christ to the Church: a self-giving love.

Often people look for the perfect “this” or “that” and forget that life is not perfect.  Often we have to “muddle through messes” and make the best of things.  Marriage is a risk!

Like most things in life, we continually have to work at a relationship.  Spend time together to enjoy one another’s company.  Communicate, listen actively.  Surprise someone with something he or she enjoys, e.g., a theater or sports ticket or dinner at a favorite restaurant.  And it’s ok to agree to disagree sometimes. We’re not perfect; forgive one another’s mistakes and move on together.

Above all, marriage takes three to last: two best friends and a God who loves us for who we are.  I’ve heard metaphors for marriage, e.g., partner, soul mate. My favorite is “best friend.”

The only way to have friends is to be one.

I would like to highlight three ingredients that I think will help people live as best friends for life.

First, a sense of humor.  The 19th century English novelist William Thackeray wrote that humor is “a mixture of love and wit.”  We all need a sense of humor.  Not always, of course, for we do at times have to take things seriously.  But we have to be able to smile at those little and large eccentricities in ourselves and in loved ones -- from the way someone slurps soup to the time taken to get ready to go somewhere.

Yes, humor is indeed a mixture of love and wit.

Second, we need a sense of wonder.  We need to be continually surprised, delighted and amazed at life.  Alive to the universe around us – to flowers and trees, landscapes and waterscapes, sunrises and sunsets and friends and children. Alive to the fact that God lives within each one of us in a community of disciples. And yes, amazed at that first encounter that blossomed into best friends.

Third, we need to develop a sense of the other.  Marriages can last through good times and bad, through sickness and health, because best friends have a ceaseless sense of the other.  Stick together.  Never put business before family.

Concern for each other impels us to reach out to people around us.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta captured for me the power of love in an incident she described this way:  “I saw a man sitting and looking terrible and so I went to him and shook his hand. He looked up and said, ‘Oh, what a long, long time since I felt the warmth of a human hand.’  He brightened up, he was so full of joy that there was somebody that loved him, someone who cared.”  The power of touch!

Yes, God gives each of us the awesome opportunity to love, and to experience joy.

1 comment:

  1. Glad I found your blog Father Kevin. You were my favorite professor at Siena. Dennis Burke 1978