Tired, worn out but excited I waited for my Aussie mate from Toronto, Canada to arrive to stay overnight.John surprised me when he phoned from Sydney, “Crock I’m coming down to Canberra tonight to see you. I’ll be leaving about 10pm. Wanta catchya before I leave on Thursday. Have brunch together that OK? I have to be back in Sydney tomorrow arvo for a family do. Be short and sweet mate, kinda spontaneous”
John, took my breathe away as I paused to take in the enormity of his effort just to catch up with me ………. “That’ll be so good mate. I’ll have the mattress on the lounge floor ready for ya when you get in.”
John’s wife Dawn had sent me the details of John’s itinerary. My plan had been to connect with him last weekend in Sydney as he was passing through. I was excited we were finally going to catch up after years of chatting and sharing on Skype. Then everything went hell west and crooked, big time. Dog snapped his cruciate ligament, my car broke down so shank’s pony was the order of the day, daughter needed some money urgently and I physically wasn’t up to driving for three hours anyway. So I phoned John apologised I couldn’t make it. He was cool about it.
I hadn’t seen John since we shared a Crossroads DTS at YWAM Canberra in 1988. Thankfully the internet renewed our acquaintance, some years ago. Thousands of miles apart we shared a common heart and ideas about what it meant to be church.
Then John surprised me with his phone call. He was coming to see me.
Now I’m getting to see him after all these years. John arrived about 2am and we chatted for an hour or so. Next morning John and I shared over a brunch at Ricardo’s in Jamison. Then I had to leave to teach a class at 11.30am. Brief but how good is it when friends value you by making an effort. Tired, yes; not so good physically ……… but …… but I felt invigorated, renewed and affirmed, a friend had given into my life ………. I hoped in turn I had into his as well. If only we understood the words of Jesus about love. I think our world would be hugely different ……… maybe just maybe money, pleasure, preoccupation with success in ministry, reaching goals, visioning and leading would drop away as we saw the true treasures of Jesus.
After class, a couple of mature age students from one of my classes last year invited me to have a coffee at the uni’s Mizuma cafe. I arrived there and that was so good. Kerrianne, the irrepressible organiser had put together a time for us all to reconnect and to celebrate together. There was Sami Kennedy-Sims just returned from the world titles Ski Cross where she topped the Aussie contingent and came 11th in the world – fantastic effort Sami – a new Olympic sport and a very promising elite athlete that surprised many at the world titles by being ranked 5th at the titles. Then there was Jacqui, her warmth and enthusiasm, her search for things that really mattered. So good to see them all. I am privileged and honoured to be invited into their lives.
What an exhiliarating day!
Our Australian society espouses mateship as a principal mantra and cultural norm “You always stick by your mates.” “You never let your mates down”.
Unfortunately the reality is anything but. Our social relationships are as barren and lifeless as other western societies. Social science research clearly shows the deficiencies in most western societies. Australia is no better than most despite our protestations of mateship.
Bookstores have large sections on relationship issues and self development. Talk shows have large followings, yet for all our knowledge and pretense we have little of what we seek.
John Powell, catholic priest, author, university educator and renowned speaker and teacher in his excellent classic of the seventies “Why am I afraid to tell you who I am?” and his sequel “Why am I afraid to Love?” makes the statement “communication is the only avenue to communion”. Communication is central to building community and relationships. His books sold in the tens of millions. Insightful and practical wisdom Powell touches a sensitive issue that over seventy percent in society are experiencing each and every day, loneliness; a lack of connection, belonging, meaningful dialogue and appreciation. Researchers have shown that the epidemic of disease and illness is closely linked to loneliness. Heart disease, immune disorders, stroke, cancer, road accidents, and other major illnesses are caused by a sense of not belonging and being involved in the lives of significant others.
Now since the Body of Christ is a community of those who are supposed to love, how is it we suffer the same dysfunctional disorders as the world? So how is it something that is meant to be so good is at best so banal, ineffective and irrelevant? At worse we experience the same sicknesses and disorders experienced by the world. There is little difference between what we are and who the world is?
Since that day I have given much time thinking about the importance of friendship to our every day lives and significant social relationships.For nearly fifty years I have studied friendship, it’s impact, it’s necessity for our well being and how it works. Most I find have a severe deficit in either giving or receiving friendship. Certainly there is a dearth of friendship in the land. Our world view does not hold relationships in the same manner as God does and designed for us to be. There is a deficit in the area of understanding and a commitment to Jesus’s dynamics and commands regarding this crucial ‘modis operandi’.
If only His Body operated as He said. If only His commands were our agenda rather than the agenda of the denominations we serve.
Would you my friends help me in my contemplation about friendship? If you are interested please dialogue with me, your insights are important to me
Few experience their breathe taken away by the generosity of others seeking them out. Giving requires a special heart, the Heart of Christ borne of the Spirit not effort!