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Monday, November 12, 2012


How many friends do you have?

Not Facebook Friends...it's not that they aren't real friends, in the potential or the actual, but I'm talking about the kind of person you can call on the phone at 3 am, and you'll never have to think about apologizing.  (And spouses don't count, for this one.)

About the kind of friend whose car breaks down on a Saturday morning, and you throw them your keys and change your weekend plans without hesitation or resentment.

And when the chips are down, the kind of friend for whom, if they got in trouble in a distant country, you'd follow the advice of the old Warren Zevon song, and bring "lawyers, guns, and money" to get them home.

I have a few...one hand would suffice to count them. Let me introduce two - a former student who won my heart by playing computer games in class, while I was trying to teach the design of reinforced concrete buildings; and a fellow writer who, if I gave up to my illness, gave in, and died, would follow me to Hell and kill me again. So there.

And, interestingly (for me, anyway), I met all of these people as an adult. It's said by some that the real friends you carry through your life you make in childhood, but it hasn't worked out that way for me.

And there are people who are moving toward that place in my heart. None moving away, for which I thank God.

I was going to write this post as a list of things to do to make a friend, but I realized that it would be a pretty short list. For the record, here it is:

  1. Keep an open heart
That's it. If you keep your heart open and alive to the possibility of someone coming and knocking on your heart's door, you'll have covered almost the full distance needed to make the kind of friend that you need - that we all need.

That we all need. The follow-on is that the friends you make help everyone. Compare our society to chain mail...old-fashioned armor made up of zillions of little interlocking rings. An individual ring hooks onto a few immediately around it, but those links are absolutely necessary for the integrity of the whole. One link all by itself is as useless as nail polish for a sheep, but that link, connected by others, is absolutely necessary.

Maybe that's what Christ was trying to say, when he said that "wherever two or more are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst of them".

He's saying that everybody needs a friend.

How many good friends can you count? How did you meet them?

And just for the record, did you know you can get a chain-mail bikini top? 


  1. I'm fairly certain that if I tried to count the friends for whom I'd run INTO battle, I'd be surprised. Both by those for whom I'd do a double take, and for those I'd grab the biggest weapons I could find.
    I'm surprised also by the friends who walk at a pithy, stupid, innocuous little comment, who I thought were trustworthy.
    And I'm surprised, on occasion, how forgiving true friends can be, when I say those stupid things.
    I know for a fact that are a special handful of friends who could have half my pancreas or one of my lungs if they needed a fresh healthy body part.
    But if you tell my husband about the chain mail bikini top? I'll give my sister your phone number so she can call you and cheer you up. That's a level of hell only slightly worse disco and polyester.

    1. But I LIKE disco! And now I've found Barb's Christmas present!

      Friendship is incredibly tough, but also incredibly fragile - like an eggshell.

      The eggshell is strong enough to protect a baby bird from a hostile world, but one tap in the wrong place, a little too hand, and it's broken. And it can't be fixed.

      Friendship's similar. We think we don't have to guard our words with true friends, but that's incorrect. Friends are human, and one misplaced word can do damage that can never be fully repaired, even with the best will in the world.

      Maybe the margin of error is bigger, but part of friendship IS being cognizant of how valuable it is, and how much effort must go into treasuring it.