Monday, August 26, 2013

Friendship is . . . and a lot more/MANN

Friendship is precious. As a senior, I've said goodbye to many friends over the years through death, moving or mental health. Memories and stories are an important dimension of friendship, even in loss. When I want to remember my grandfather, I think of fishing with him. Just to look at Grandpa’s picture and notice his suit, or the pattern on his tie isn't enough. Appreciating the backdrop in his picture, even if it’s beautiful scenery, doesn't really do much for appreciating him as a person. Without a personal connection to the picture, it remains just that—a picture. It’s only when the tie triggers a memory of him taking it off one Sunday afternoon and putting it on the dog’s neck for me to paint a picture. Or perhaps remembering Grandpa’s suit usually wrinkled because he hung the pants by the belt-loop, rather than taking Grandma’s consistent reminder to fold them over a hanger.
Friendship is always changing. This is not to mean we intentionally set one friend aside to accept another one, but that the ingredients of forgiveness, tolerance, acceptance and understanding are forever growing and developing. Different attitudes, awareness, growth and understanding of issues can tax friendship and it’s a gift to one another to be honest and able to explore them in discussion. Both friends can gain new understandings through this trust.
Friendship is challenging. It’s important not to attempt to clone another person to be like ones self. Celebrating another’s depth of character, different theological stand, or gift of awareness can add to our own understanding of life and everyday issues. It’s kind to remember that one friend is not expected to meet all the needs of another, nor is it a mutual responsibility to always provide happiness.
Friendship is being truthful. It knows what experience or newly discovered world-changing information is only for self to soak up and not meant for sharing, should it seem preachy or self-righteous. Sometimes, it’s all about tone of voice.
Friendship is noticing. Knowing what's important to another person, to affirm and encourage where you find some common ground is important. We don't have to make a list, just be aware of what plays another’s heartstrings. It also means we don’t have to touch on that which is uncomfortable to us. It does not have to hear a mutual recognition that we’re connected to what’s important; it’s being able to extend a caring approach into someone else’s life.
As Henri Nouwen so eloquently says, “. . . we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.”
My father had the profound experience of having a rather refined gentle man as a friend, drawn together probably only because their wives were related. Perhaps that makes the friend's remark even more honourable, "I know Charlie, and like him anyway."


Peter Black said...

Donna, I suggest that you speak here, not only from the perspective of a granddaughter and friend, but also from the orientation and experience of a pastor's heart.
I like your father's expression about knowing and liking Charlie anyway.
Our Heavenly Father knows all there is to know about us, yet He loves us, just the same. :)

Donna Mann said...

Thank you, Peter. Your appreciation of words is always so appropriate.

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