‘The sweetness of friendship’

Thoughts on being a friend and making friends

The author, a seminary graduate with a brief stint as a pastor, is a retired housing contractor. He lives in Chico.

Without friends life would be like traveling through a cold night. With friends there is the warmth of fun, laughter and the sharing of common experiences. Kahlil Gibran says, “In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”

Some friends develop over years. My longest friend, of more than 50 years, lives too far away for anything but rare personal contact. Phone conversations, however, are full of ideas and laughter. Local friends make life more enjoyable with a smile or a witty remark.

Think not that any of us are without faults. There is a Hasidic saying, “One who looks for friends without faults will have none.” Good friends can laugh with you about your faults. In that there is freedom.

Friendships make for a bulwark against life’s difficulties. A Czech proverb says, “Do not protect yourself with a fence, but rather with your friends.” Friendship multiplies the good and divides difficulties.

Age sweetens friendships. An anonymous saying goes, “Count your age with friends, not with years.” As our friends age with us they become more valuable.

A gentleman by the name of Bernard Metzler who hosted a radio call-in advice show for several decades called What’s My Problem? said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people, than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Be a friend and you will have friends.

Living alone, as many people do, does not necessarily mean we have to be lonely. When we get out and socialize, we find others around us who have interesting lives and worthwhile things to say. If we spend more time listening, we may find new friends.

Except for the occasional hermit, we are social creatures. Even a friendly word in a grocery store or bank line will sometimes result in a clever response. Friends are the sunshine of life. Even unexpectedly pleasant encounters with strangers brighten our day.

We have a choice. We can live our lives in either the cold darkness of self-centeredness or the warmth and light of friendships. Make someone’s day brighter with friendship; it is one of life’s most cherished gifts.