None of us is going to live in any great way in isolation. We are all part of all sorts of communities. Much of what we are is defined by how we relate to each other. Our relationships either enhance or diminish us. One of the great principles of Christianity is that we are identified by how we relate to each other – love one another. Friendship is a great thing.
I have been back reading Paulo Coelho’s Manuscript found in Accra (HarperCollins, 2013) and was struck by a couple of the comments on this theme. One is a recognition of our inter-dependence and the need to take risks and accept vulnerability – “Stay close to those who are not afraid to be vulnerable, because they have confidence in themselves and know that, at some point in our lives, we all stumble; they do not interpret this as a sign of weakness, but of humanity.” In short, we all need to be able to fail – and our friends are those who will help us cope with, and emerge from, that.
The other comment I noticed provides a reminder of how true friendship moulds itself to what is needed. “Friendship is like a river: it flows around rocks, adapts itself to valleys and mountains, occasionally turns into a pool until the hollow in the ground is full and it can continue on its way. Just as the river never forgets that its goal is the sea, so friendship never forgets that its only reason for existing is to love other people.”