08 June 2003


Given that so many in today's world live and die in places other than where they were born and grew up, it would seem that one of the principal casualties of this incessant mobility is friendship. In a more agrarian past our ancestors were far more likely to enjoy, besides the geographic proximity of extended family, lifelong friendships ending only with the death of one of the friends. Perhaps they were drawn to each other as children, and subsequently played, were educated, worked and attended church side by side. After their marriages their respective families would be close, and, quite naturally, friendships -- and possibly even marriages -- would form among the offspring of these two families.

A lifelong friendship is far more difficult to carry off today. Now we are more likely to have what are effectively, if not intentionally, temporary friendships associated with various periods in our lives, but which we literally have left behind when we have moved away to take another job or to go to graduate school. These friendships have not exactly ended; they might properly be said to have gone into a state of dormancy.

At next meeting, possibly years later, what appeared to have been dormant may prove to have faded altogether, sad to say. People grow apart, their interests change, their views of life diverge, or they may simply have nothing to talk about after so much time apart.

However, a friendship may slumber for decades, only to be reawakened in all its fulness at a single future meeting. Remarkably and unexpectedly, nothing appears to have changed. The friends pick up where they left off much earlier; it is as if the years had not passed at all and the geographic distance was insignificant. Such friendships are to be treasured. They don't come often. Thank God for such friends.

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