Samuel Taylor Coleridge once said that friends are life's "sheltering trees." He's right. If you've ever basked in the shade of a deep friendship, well...'nuff said.
I'm enjoying a cup of Starbucks, thinking about what's most important in a friendship. Here are some of things that come to mind:
1. Be considerate. Available but not intrusive. Determined but not demanding. Learn that delicate skill of knowing how to be near without being too close, too often. It's a wonderful thing.
2. Be confidential. Do you love anyone enough to be silent? Seriously. And...can you remain silent even after the "secret" becomes public knowledge? If so, please be my friend. You live in a beautiful place, a region called rare character.
3. Be honest. Truthfulness is everything. We all agree with that, but most of us won't tell it--the truth that is--to even our best friends. If we're aware and we care, we need to share...albeit very delicately...perhaps even with tears. How else will any of us get better?
4. Be constructive. Have you learned the wonderful art of methodically redeeming broken people who have a desire to try again? If so, you're a great friend. When I'm really, really happy, the first thing I do is call someone who loves to clap and cheer. Who do you call? Who calls you...and why? As George Eliot said, "What do we live for if not to make life less difficult for each other?"
5. Finally, be dependable. Solomon said, "A good friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity." (Proverbs 17:17). In other words, true friends enter when others are exiting. Mediocre friends come and go; true friends come and stay...and when they know that you've
been refreshed by their shade, they quietly slip away, thankfully celebrating the privilege of being part of your life. And they continual to travel along...just reflecting grace. They remind me of that song by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel:
When you're down and out,
When you're on the street,
When evening falls, so hard;
I will comfort you. I'll take your side.
When darkness comes,
And pain is all around,
Like a bridge over troubled waters,
I will lay me down.
Lord, thank you... for sheltering trees.
By the way, will you be a tree?