Friday may be for friends, but sometimes friendships fade or, sadly, are broken. Epstein’s 17th chp of Friendship: An Expose is about broken friendships. A little dreary of a topic for the day that ushers us into the weekend, but still … a reality we all know.
I’m going to ruminate this morning — you pick up an idea and carry where you will. Some may wish to reflect on a friendship gone bad; others may have ideas of how to heal cracking relationships; others may have other ideas about why it is that friendships are sometimes broken or why they fade into a distant memory. Epstein’s chapter led me to a reverie of former friends no longer in my life. You feel this at times?
Most of us had close friends in high school or college and, for any number of reasons, are simply no longer a part of our life. Perhaps a Christmas card, or an occasional e-mail, but what nurtured and sustained us at one time in our life — a true friendship — is no longer that kind of friendship.
Recently I spoke in Grand Rapids, and a college friend, a college teammate from our basketball team, LeRoy Shively had e-mailed and we arranged that he would pick me up at the airport. He looked the same — factoring in 30 years — and so did I — with the same factor. We resumed conversation as we had 30 years ago, without skipping one heart’s beat. The hotel let us set up shop — no more than two chairs and a table — in the continental breakfast restaurant, and there we sat. For two hours or more. Nothing but spirit with spirit, reminiscing and reflecting. We said goodbye. If we lived in Grand Rapids, I have no doubt LeRoy would have been someone of a constant friendship. But we don’t live there, and he and his family don’t live here. So, we have the kind of friendship that resumes when we encounter one another. Lots of our friendships, I suppose, are like this: life dictates that they are suspended.
Nostalgia swarmed me that night. So many friends, so many good times, and now — the many I knew are mostly distant memories that rarely come to the surface … even if good memories when they surface. A college roommate came to the lectures. We called him Pooch (and his girlfriend, and now wife of 30+ years, Smooch). Another came, Denny, was there with his son — now “training” for pastoral ministry — and his dad is as good a role model as one can have. We all talked about others we knew.
I had returned a world I left — and it evoked both pain of relationships now gone and joy for relationships once enjoyed. I could go on. Point made. Many of us know what is like to return to a former social world. These friendships were not broken; they simply faded. Seeing someone from that world opens that world back up to us …
Others, of course, crack … for a variety of reasons — time, pushiness with one another, personal changes, time needed for children or others, marriage or divorce, politics, inappropriate things said, pride, misunderstandings, etc..
We’re taught to be reconciled with one another at all times. That’s a great idea, to ape the words of CS Lewis, until you find yourself at serious odds with a friend.