Updated: Nov 1
By Maureen Kalbus
Sheltering at home, we have been in renewed contact with friends, finding out how they are coping with this year’s challenges, and luxuriating in the warmth of their interest and friendship. We have particularly enjoyed Zoom gatherings, seeing folks as we catch up. Ralph and my friends are sprinkled across America and the globe, and so contact with them opens up doors into different worlds, nudging memories of how and where we met, and times spent together flood back.
Friendships are vital elements of our lives. We are born into families. We choose our friends. Some may share similar traits and interests; others are radically different, therefore challenging us to try new pursuits and opportunities.
Anais Nin said that “Friends represent a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” David Tyson Gentry felt that “True friendship comes when the silence between two people is comfortable.” C.S. Lewis thought that “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another” What! To you too? I thought I was the only one!” True friendship stands the test of time and distance. Elbert Hubbard affirmed “Your friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you.”, and Aristotle “My best friend is the man who in wishing me well, wishes it for my sake.”
Maureen Logan has been my friend since I was three, when, with my parents, I moved into the bouse next door, in Belfast. We meet up when I am back in Northern Ireland, and keep up with each other’s lives in the interim, by emails, letters and phone calls. Similarly, I rendezvous with my Grammar School friends, lunching together, catching up, and laughing as we reminisce our school adventures. Interestingly, although we have traveled in different directions over the decades, and most are now grandparents, each one’s basic personality has stayed the same.
In 1977, as the Irish delegate at the Second World Conference on Gifted Children, held in San Francisco, I had a taxing journey to America and then a colorful, stressful introduction to the City by the Bay! Word of my experiences circulated quickly around the conference, and I was inundated with offers from kind delegates, to take me under their wings. One couple, Len and Leila Finkelstein from Philadelphia, “adopted me”, and, until Len’s death two weeks ago, have remained good friends, meeting up at the biennial conferences, serving together on international committees, and visiting in each other’s homes. Len and Leila attended Ralph and my wedding in Los Angeles. Len was a great hugger!
When I emigrated to Australia, I was introduced to Jenny and Frank Barnes. We instantly connected, and I was enriched by their friendship. They afforded me opportunities to escape the rigors of heading a school, through Sydney Opera House, as Frank was its first General Manager, and then by escaping to their retirement home beyond the Blue Mountains, where they bred angora goats! They also helped me understand the Australian culture.
Over the years, Ralph and I have accumulated friends we have met on vacation cruises. Contact with any of our diverse friends, provokes smiles, as a kaleidoscope of places and events drops into focus.
Ralph and I are aware that most of our closer to home friends are church friends. Upon deciding on F.P.C.S.A. as our church home, we were fortunate to have Beth and Jim Sharpe as our shepherds. Little did they know that when they introduced us to Ross Valley Players in “The Barn”, the theatre company would become a main part of our lives, as actors, volunteers and a Board Member. “First Friendly” lived up to its name, as everywhere we turned, there was a smiling face welcoming us into the fold. Not having family members close at hand, we are indebted to the wonderful individuals who invited us into their homes, befriended us, and have enriched our lives.
From which parts of your life do your friends come? What drew you together? How far back do they go?
“Make new friends, but don’t forget the old ones.” Yiddish Proverb
“Hold onto a true friend with both hands.” Nigerian Proverb
We were not created to be on our own. God designed marital and familial relationships and friendships, to provide for us a wide variety of support, love and entertainment. Through the Bible, we can read about the power of specific friendships, and guidance on becoming a good friend. Key examples of great friendships were; Abraham and Lot [Genesis 14 v 16]; David and Jonathan [1Sam. 18]; Ruth and Naomi [Ruth 1 v 16-17]; Elijah and Elisha [2 Kings 2 v 2]; Job and his friends [Job 2 v 11-13]; Paul introduced friends to other friends [Rom. 16 v 3-4]; Jesus had a close friendship with Mary, Martha and Lazarus [John 10 v 38]; Jesus is our truest friend [John 15 v 12-17]]
The theme of friendship is woven through the fabric of Scripture. As well as examples that are testaments to the power of friendship, we read about main elements for friendships to thrive: displayed love, loyalty and emotional openness. The value of friends is often referenced: “Choose friends carefully.”[Prov. 12]; “Walk with the wise and become wise.” [Prov. 13 v 20]; “A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” [Prov. 27 v 9]; “How good it is when God’s people live together in unity.” [Psalm 133 v 1]; “My command is this. Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” [John 15 V 12-13]
Friendship is also a central theme throughout literature. In “The Prophet”, Kahlil Gibran writes:
“Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside. F
or you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.”
obert Frost in “A Time to Talk” penned:
”When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed
And shout from where I am “What is it?”
No, not as there is time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground
Blade -end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.”
One of my favorite poems is “Two Girls Singing” by Ian Crichton Smith
“It neither was the words nor yet the tune.
Any tune would have done and any word.
Any listener or no listener at all.
As nightingales in rocks or a child crooning
in its own world of strange awakening
or larks for no reason by themselves.
So on a bus in late November running
by yellow lights tormented, darkness falling
the two girls sang for miles and miles together.
and it wasn’t the words or the tune. It was the singing.
It was the human sweetness in that yellow,
the unpredicted voices of our kind.”
Through your life, people have been blessed by having you in their lives. You are a valued friend.
Friendly wishes for the weeks ahead,