Among the many blessings of this time of year is the ability to take some extra time to spend with family and friends. Many of us have at least a few days off from work around Christmas and New Year (OK – we academics have more days off than do many others), allowing us to visit with friends we might not otherwise be able to see so easily.
Joan Chittister speaks beautifully of the love between friends. She writes:
The love of a friend comes always with a lantern in hand. By love I am not talking about passion, though that will certainly, in one energizing sense or another, be a fortifying dimension of any deep and good relationship. By love I am talking about the process of melting into the life of another in ways that fuse our souls, open our hearts, and stretch our minds, and all the while claiming nothing in return. Friendship is the process of opening ourselves to the care, to the wisdom, of the other. The love of friendship is the love that holds no secrets, has no unasked questions, no unspoken thoughts, no unanswered concerns. Friendship extends us into places we have not gone before and cannot go alone. Friendship may be either ultimate or commonplace, but it is never without the gain of a little more self.
Having spent several hours yesterday with a very dear friend, Chittister’s words resonate easily with me. The love of friendship of which she speaks is a beautiful gift and I rise this day giving thanks for the blessing in my life of those I am privileged to call my friends – those who love me and accept my love, whose lives have melted into my own, and who extend me into places I have not gone before and cannot go alone.