PREPENT DAY 19
Elul 19 5775 – September 3 2015
One night you sit down to dinner with an old friend that you haven’t seen in a while and realize that you have known each other half your lives and hold some piece of each other’s truth in ways that very few do. Some friendships last, mysteriously, through decades, whether we see each other often or not. Others burn bright for short periods and fade, over and out.
Technology enables us to ‘friend’ so many more people than our hearts are able to contain.
The very meaning of true friendship in the age of BFF is often challenged.
And yet, certainly as we grow and age and hopefully get wiser, we somehow, sometimes, manage to prioritize and maintain the ties we need and want, making sure we are not alone and are here, or there, for others.
Sometimes friends are family and/or romantic partners. Sometimes it’s the distance that preserves the friendship’s bond. Today’s my day for thinking once again about my lost or lasting friendships.
Not all of my present/former friendships are the ones I need right now, healthy or helpful. Some turn sour or go toxic or just no longer cherished as they were, some held on to for reasons that have little to do with who I am or what I or they need anymore. Sometimes we need the courage to unfriend, so that we have more room for us and others who matter. This needs to be done, if at all, with the most sensitive and loving way we can, when we can.
This past year I’ve lost and let go of a few former friends. I also feel I’ve gained a few good new ones. At the time following my father’s death I noticed, with deep appreciation, who showed up, for real, who cared enough and knew enough of loss to be in some way present. There were those I love who were not there on whom I called and called them on it – with surprise, request, my truth. Amends were made most often and relationships maintained, some deeper, some less. There were those who vanished, and when I saw them again, weeks or months later, nothing but polite hello remained. They didn’t care enough to show up or amend later and thus I did not either. There is forgiveness – but also an economy of scale and careful attention to how much can a heart handle with gratitude and grace. Sometimes we move on.
Not every friendly person in my orbit is a friend. I want to reserve that title to the ones who matter.
The art and act of Teshuva, taught our sages, requires that one examines and repairs relationship with people in one’s life before turning inwards into making peace with self and soul and higher powers. We who are made in the divine image carry the blessing and burden of what’s most sacred in our lives. How are we carrying this mission?
Prepent 19. I ask myself today:
This past year, was I a worthy friend to others? Right now, which of my closest friends, if any, is there for me and I for him or her?
Reach out to a friend or two or three who reallly matter with nothing more than a gesture of love or begin preparing a Shana Tova card.
Or maybe this is the day to write a note to one of those friends, former or about to be, with whom a talk is pending, sharing burdens of the heart?
Is the day to go through facebook and unfriend some people who just take up space inside your life and then celebrate the few new ones that have joined you this past year? Or maybe even reach out to a new person you’ve been interested in and say – hey – can we be (first phase) friends?
“The only way to have a friend is to be one,” wrote Emerson.
So I take a few moments this morning to list, with gratitude, five people in my life – those that I am happy to truly call friends, and know I can rely on as they can each rely on me.
Thank you for being my friends, those of you out there, old and new, who know who you are!