Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Sacrament of Friendship

Friendship is an adventure.  It is also a sacrament (an outward sign of an inward invisible grace).  William Ferrar Renzulli and I have been friends since 1971.  We were young, handsome, thin, had hair,  and were “full of piss and vinegar” (rowdy, boisterous, full of youthful energy) back then.  That expression was used by John Steinbeck in his novel “In Dubious Battle” (1936) and it fits.  We were on the threshold of our vocations, he in medicine and I in ministry.  We were both young husbands and young fathers, eager to be the best in both roles.  We were altruistic and naive.  We had no awareness of how life could and would tumble in, or if we did, we paid it no mind.  We had the world by its tail!

Forty-four years have passed since first we met.  We are no longer young, our handsomeness has taken on the marks of maturity, and our thinness has turned into well-rounded waists, and we still have a little hair (at least I do) on our heads.  Our children have all grown up, have children of their own, and Bill and I are grandfathers now. 

I wish I had space to tell, but I cannot, of all the many experiences of these years Bill and I have shared in friendship.   Bill fulfilled his calling in medicine and also his calling to be an artist.  I fulfilled my calling in ministry and also my calling to develop ministry in new and various forms.  We have been successful, I suppose, in the eyes of the world.  But more importantly, we have, through thick and thin, through turmoil and joy, in trouble and in peace, in rocky places and in smooth, maintained our friendship.  The adventures Bill experienced, I experienced with him, and he shared my experiences as well.  

There are many things I prize—but at the top of the list is the adventure and the sacrament of friendship—because this is rarer and more precious than all the rest. 

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