Sunday, 25 January 2009


Friends have been good to me this week: phoning, visiting, listening, doing my shopping, leaving messages, and today taking me out into the sunshine, beautiful views, snow and blue skies. A great way to build up my strength and morale after the week's fever and infection. It always surprises me when this happens. When I was a teenager I didn't have many friends and ever since I left school I'm surprised that I seem to have friends.
Perhaps these feelings also come from a sense of guilt at not being a very good or dedicated friend myself. I'm no longer very good at keeping in touch with friends from long ago - it's years since I sent a Christmas card to anyone.
Friendship is one of the key building blocks of life, both casual and good friends, networks of aquaintances and even "virtual" phone, internet and facebook friends help all of us to remain connected and not to get lost within our own petty concerns and worlds. In the international and local community here on the Franco-Swiss border friendships are sometimes difficult as so many people are always moving through and moving on. It's difficult for some folk to find the emotional energy to invest in new friendships they think might not last long. Living with the ebb and flow of changing and developing relationships is always a challenge.
Years ago a young woman in my congregation asked to be baptised. I encouraged her to find a Bible passage and, after sitting down with my copy of the Concordance de la Traduction Oecuménique de la Bible, she came up with a number of verses on friendship which all came from the book of Ecclesiasticus. This was quite a challenge both for me and for her Grandfather who was also a pastor - Protestants don't usually read Ecclesisticus as it is one of the Deutero-canonical books and is not normally included in Protestant Bibles. Looking through Ecclesiasticus again today I particularly liked this verse: A faithful friend is the medicine of life."
(Ecclesiasticus 6:16).
With all the medicine I've been taking this week I'm also very gratefully aware that my friends have been at least as good as the antibiotics. Friendship is even today the medicine of life.