There are different kinds of friendship. Friendships involve different levels of communication and sharing. Friendships can be tremendously enriching. Each friendship may have a different focus and depth. All have elements of attraction and joy. Some friendships are between men or between women; others are between a man and a woman. Today some people focus on groups of friends as well as on individual friendships. Our Salesian tradition concerns itself with all these types of friendship.
Some friends are colleagues at work. We share a common interest in our profession or occupation. We often talk about topics related to this work. We may go out right after work on occasion to continue our conversation or to honor a colleague. But we rarely carry the relationship home.
Other people are friends for a lifetime. My friend George and I grew up together. Even as adults living hundreds of miles apart, we stayed in touch several times a year. The first wedding I witnessed as a priest, over thirty years ago, was of George and his wife Jean. I always laughed at George’s jokes. Recently, God called George to eternal life—and at his funeral we recalled many of George’s jokes and his positive attitude to life.
Friends can have a lifelong influence. No two friendships are the same. Two personalities blend together in unique ways.
Our true friends are those who encourage us to be our best selves. I have encouraged a number of friends over the years to continue their education. Several of these doubted their intellectual abilities. They did not see very clearly what was quite evident to me. Their subsequent success belied their doubt. They have, in turn, encouraged me to try new things--such as teaching a new course in pastoral practice or becoming a chaplain in the association.
Sometimes a friend can see us more clearly than we see ourselves.
John W. Crossin, OSFS