“How good is friendship?”

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!

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About Eagleholme

Growing together to live and to love radically
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9 Responses to “How good is friendship?”

  1. Ross and Karen says:

    We your friends mate!

    • Eagleholme says:

      Rossco thanks mate, yeah you are my friends and I appreciate you and your heart – we have travelled with each other from time to time which hs been special.
      I am writing about friendship at present. At uni I see every day lonely people desperately seeking to be included in others lives – somehow their attempts just don’t work for them. My question is and has been for years “Where is church in all this?” What I am asking is, where can I take people and believers will willingly and enthusiastically embrace these people (young and mature age) with great affection and open heartedly include them in their lives? I know of no place in any place I have been. I have resolved to be that person for thirty years. Yet my personal resources are limited particulaly at the moment.
      Thank you for responding and your wonderful affirmation. I would appreciate any thoughts you have on friendship and open heartedness
      love to you and looking forward to coming to Brisbane to catch up with you.

    • Eagleholme says:

      Ross & Karen I’m coming to Brisbane next week Wed 13th June 2012 will u have time to catch up??

  2. Louise Drinkwater says:

    Within your golden chain of friendship consider me a link-author unknown

    Consider me a link-include me, don’t forget me
    Consider me a link-I am already included, acknowledged as a member of your privileged circle.

    It was once my extended hand to close friends pre-christian (prehistoric), it has now become a request for inclusion, thus was and is the vast difference in my experience of friendship. I am amazed at the arm length of christians, it is remarkably short. It seems in these trying times, or at least that is what our dear Pastoral leaders, prophets and tele-evangelists are telling us ad-nauseum is the cause. Interestingly living my days outside the sheep fold has sometimes provided me with greater support, lasting friendship and care, than since moving inside the fenced boundary. It is difficult not to be skeptical and tarnished by one’s experiences of the church. A previous pastor once told me don’t be part of the problem be part of the solution. He was a business man elevated to position of shepherd. He also reminded me Jesus didn’t stop and wait for anyone, we have a choice.

    The harsh realities of christianity. But seriously what is the solution, is there one, does God have a position on this? People do have coping mechanisms in place for those in need of love, security, understanding, consoling and going the distance and more often than not they themselves lack the stamina. A rather tough woman from a Healing and Deliverance ministry ( a friend…) told me it was the position of Jesus to bear up the needs of people and really christians should seek the Lord’s direction before pouring themselves out-there is probably some self-preservation in that and possibly some truth

    What is friendship? Perhaps it is no longer the classical tradition (as my old time worldly proverb suggests). I have some lovely friends (for how long-for now) I have had some lovely friends, our lives have gone in opposite directions and contact is far or international, but they continue to impregnate my heart. One friend told me quite clearly he would see me in the next Jerusalem-hope I don’t miss that plane. He was moving on and perhaps that is what resonates with christians-everyone is anticipating God calling them……..somewhere, so don’t become too attached, or perhaps their vantage point only sees the eternal

    What is more despairing than loneliness?
    The pain within the human heart and the tide of emotion that sweeps over a desperate soul unable to connect with ‘The Man of Sorrows’

    • Eagleholme says:

      The harsh realities of Christianity are just that! Harsh. As for Christianity it has become a religion, pharisaical, dysfunctional, and not being what God had in mind. That is, Christianity is more concerned with ‘spiritual mastrubation’ (that is wanky – if a church doesn’t please us we go serch for one that delivers the pleasure or meets our needs) and its own existence than God’s purposes.
      You are correct when you ask “What is more despairing than loneliness?” So as I have attempted to write, God in Christ has a Way for us to walk in the Spirit (love) to be close to Him and each other. Let’s talk today over a pizza!

  3. Kerrianne says:

    In line at the supermarket last night, behind two Salvation Army people. They were greeted by the checkout operator and replied, asking what she had planned for the weekend. This weekend is her Easter celebration. She is Macedonian. The Greek Orthodox also celebrate Easter this weekend. (She said that the Greek Orthodox Celebrate Easter with the Macedonians and Christmas at the more usual time) She spoke of how she had boiled and coloured some eggs, as per their tradition. The Salvo’s were keen to ensure she had not forgotten the real mean of Easter, beyond the Eggs.

    What she said next has stuck with me. She said, “I wish we could just keep all the differences in religions to ourselves our in our families or churches but celebrate together. Everyone together, at the same time. That would be so wonderful.”

    Wouldn’t it just. I returned home to my daughter’s ‘One Direction’ party of ten 15 year old girls. Among them was a Suni Muslim, who happens to be one of her closest friends. If my 15 year old can explain Christainity to her Muslim friend and organise pizza without bacon to respect her beliefs and upbringing, why can’t the rest of the world get on the same way?

    I know that is a VERY simple view, but I have brought my children up to accept & respect people for who they are. Not all will be Christians. Yes Gabrielle is very concerned about the future of her friend, (arranged marriage, eternal life etc) and has spent many hours talking with me about it.

    At the end of the day, all she offers and enjoys from her dear friend is FRIENDSHIP, without judgement. As you say, ‘Wise Wayne’ or ‘Wacky Wayne’ whichever you feel like tonight, “How good is friendship.”

    I am proud to call you my friend and thank the Lord for bringing you and your wisdom into my life.

    xoxo Kerrianne

  4. Eagleholme says:

    Kerrianne, may I post your story on my blog? How special!! The ‘simple’ view is good!
    Thank you for your words. I am humbled by them. My friend it is not a one way street. I appreciate you, your wonderful family, each one is special in their own way. Your Nick is a very special man – so often familiarity of the years causes us to forget the specialness of the other – I see your enduring love for one another through tough times – a word to the wise about what you have been through and are coming out of – all, this too will pass – the Scriptures encourage us to forget what is behind to look to Him, for He is our future 🙂 ……. Healing takes time as you well know so relax letting the quiet and the silence penetrate you inner being.
    Your Josh, Luke and Gabrielle are special young people.
    Thank you for inviting me into your lives. You have been a blessing to me.
    Love to you all
    Wayne, sometimes the pain, now and again the brain

    • Kerrianne says:

      Wayne, (never the pain, always the brain) of course you can post the story on your blog. I actually thought that by sending it to you on that forum that I had done it. We really appreciate your reminding us of the scriptures and the strength we have in us through the Lord and his love. Despite everything that is behind us, we are still together and will remain that way, with his blessing. Only with his love and strength have we made it this far. The worst is behind us and we face a new future together. Certainly there will be some unknown paths, but we always have a guiding light.
      Love you right back,
      K.

  5. Louise Drinkwater says:

    Dear Reverend and friend, it was so lovely catching up with you last night, there is something quite secure about being with you, perhaps because you have weathered 20yrs more storms and life than me, your a dad with a Father’s love for your children as God intended and I don’t know what that feels like. The story by Kerrianne is really poignant-the youthful mind and their deep concerns is underestimated……
    Love you mate

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