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I enjoy being with friends in many different ways, and frequently it includes relaxing together over coffee.
This evening I spent a delightful hour doing just that with one of my best friends—who happens to be 13 times zones away. Through technology and with our mugs of coffee, we had fun telling each other stories and catching up on our news. We both loved it so much that we are going to make it a monthly event.
I have another friend who phones me once a week. She lives three time zones away, and though sometimes we need to cancel for one reason or another, we both eagerly anticipate these times.
With other friends, I connect as best I can, with email being the most common for those far away. So as much as I sometimes find today’s technology and omni-present connectivity to be overwhelming, I am grateful for the ease with which we can find each other.
As friends we enjoy being engaged in each other’s journey, as our own life stories unfold.
I am fortunate to have such loving friends. Where would any of us be without our true friends? They are the ones who believe in us, who are there for us no matter what; and we feel the same for them as we cheer them on. Statistics indicate that friendships outlast marriages—and while thinking about so many divorces makes me feel sad, the statistics do show the enduring power of friendship.
True friends are one of life’s great treasures. Or, as William Shakespeare wrote: “I am wealthy in my friends.”
Even as I am thinking about how precious my friends are to me, I also find myself stumbling a bit over the word “friend” since it is used so imprecisely in the English language, with no way to describe the range of relationships we might have. Thus, “I have a friend who” is a familiar phrase—even though this often refers to a casual relationship, a slight acquaintance, someone who isn’t a friend in the sense of a committed, intimate relationship.
Ambiguities of the word aside, I do want to be friendly to everyone. Baha’u’llah taught that we should regard the stranger as a friend, share our joy with all, and seek fellowship with the followers of all religions:
Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship. … The brightness of the fire of your love will no doubt fuse and unify the contending peoples and kindreds of the earth … – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, pp. 95-96.
As a further explanation, Abdu’l-Baha wrote that one of the purposes of the prophets of God, from the beginning of time and on into the future, is to influence human relationships:
With the advent of the Prophets of God, their power of creating a real union, one which is both external and of the heart, draws together malevolent peoples who have been thirsting for one another’s blood, into the one shelter of the Word of God. – The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 73.
When I consider that one of the purposes of the Prophets through the ages is to create a “real union” — well, what can possibly be more important than to think of everyone as a friend? Once I think of them as a friend, then my actions must support this. If we all were to come together in friendship, we would be like members of one family. Then as members of one family, we would care for each other’s well-being and work toward a secure, healthy, productive, and satisfying future.
When I was a child, friends wrote letters to each other. Back then, school-age children often had pen pals. I still have a box filled with letters from those years, and though I seldom read them, just seeing the box from time to time brings back sweet memories. Today’s skype sessions, phone calls, and emails aren’t readily put into a box.
Nevertheless, I suppose that’s a fair exchange for the pleasure of having coffee together, beyond the confines of time and place.