Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather is one of those things that give value to survival."
– C. S. Lewis
Part of my current studies is a seminar on the writings of C.S. Lewis. This seminar meets once a week but doesn’t include his more popular writings like The Chronicles of Narnia and Mere Christianity; it only looks at some of his lesser known books. Yesterday, we studied the first half of the book The Four Loves, which included the loves of affection and friendship love. I like this seminar; it’s instructive but yesterday’s session didn’t really click for me till later last night.
Last week, when I was home for Thanksgiving Break, I had called down to Paraguay and talked with John, the guy who replaced me as maintenance man. In speaking with him, he mentioned that Jay was coming to the States the next week for a brief visit. After that conversation, I made a mental note to call Jay when he came Stateside. Last night, I enjoyed a all-too-brief conversation with Jay.
In Paraguay, I worked with Jay for over a year and a half. Not only did we work together but we traveled all over Paraguay on numerous jaunts and to Argentina and Chile on vacation. Though there are some major differences between us, he being from the South and I am a Yankee, I look back on those days in sun-drenched Paraguay with fond memories.
But however fond those memories, I concede that Lewis is correct. My time on this earth is NOT dependent on friendship, however much the contrary I want to fight his statement. My survival in Paraguay was not based on gaining new friends and establishing meaningful relationships. Those relationships enhanced my time there.
This truth is something we often overlook. We grieve over the loss of a friend and rightly so. A friend becomes part of us; when they move on or the friendship is annulled, something is lost. We lose a bit of their presence with us. But life does move on. Life changes. Physical distance grows and shrinks.
So how can we reconcile life, change and friends? Like the flawless texture of a fine chocolate, the tantalizing aroma and flavor of a perfect cup of coffee, and the exhilarating beauty of a clear winter night, enjoy it. When life brings you a friend or grants you a moment to be with friends, enjoy it, savor it, absorb it. And when it rescinds those privileged moments, enjoy the memory of those moments. Like the memory of a gorgeous sunset, may the memories imprint themselves in your mind and looking back to those moments, a smile creeps over your face.
Having said that, I look forward to the next time that Jay and I can talk and hope that it will be face to face. May the intervening months be short. Until then, I smile.