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A friend indeed

I've been thinking about friends and friendship. It feels to me as if "friend" is a woefully overused term and "friendship" can sound childlike and benign. The truth is that life would be meaningless without both.

Maybe it's because I'm about to spend a week at camp with 140 children, some of whom know each other and some of whom will meet for the first time. The same is true for the 100 or so volunteers and staff -- some returning, some new. Some are already friends. Others are about to become friends. And some, who have been coming for years, are really the best of friends, the life-long kind, the ones who will be there for you in joy and sorrow, in triumph and trial, through thick and thin. Do you know what I'm getting at? I think we all have these types of friends.

If you're a friendly person, you likely know a lot of people and can spend time with them easily and enjoyably. And that is a blessing on you. But then there are the friendships that have taken root in your life and go deep, deep into the ground of your being. This strata of friendships is sustenance. It is life-affirming.

This kind of friend may be your life partner (and I would venture a judgment that that's a lucky and good thing). It might be someone you met when you were a kid or in school or more recently. Could be a relative like a sibling or cousin. Someone older. Younger.

Here's the thing about friends and friendship. It's a choice. So many wise and wacky people have said so many wonderful things about friendship that it's hard to characterize in one pithy quote. Thomas Aquinas said, "There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship." Emerson said, "The only way to have a friend is to be one." deBeauvoir said, "One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the lives of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion."

Got friends? Good! Count your blessings. Have a great week.

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