I’m not sure if it was the lack of sleep, the weather or just plain hormones that had me in such a blue mood, but I desperately wanted to get rid of the cloud over my head. So, I decided to pop over to a friend’s house to have a cuppa and a chat. Within the hour, my smile was back and sunny skies were on my horizon. And it wasn’t that anything spectacular was discussed or experienced - it was just the camaraderie shared between two friends. This gift of friendship is important: and we need to stress that importance to our children. To explain that not only is it great and blessed to have friends, but how imperative it is to be a good friend.
‘Two are better than one: they get a good wage for their labour. If one falls, the other will lift up his companion ‘(Eccl 4:9).
Regarding our children and the above passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes, we might not want to focus on the benefits of earning, but more on where we lift one another up, if and when needed. The joy one receives from within when giving to others is immeasurable. And concerning our children, it is important to emphasise that it’s easy to be misguided in our thinking. Sometimes it feels that if we give of ourselves, particularly in friendship, that we could do ourselves out of something – even if that’s only time. But on the contrary; selfless giving, especially in friendship, grants peace and joy to our hearts that cannot be bought. Therefore, in giving, we find ourselves in a win-win situation; yes, we help others but we also help ourselves.
‘He who is a friend is always a friend, and a brother is born for the time of stress’ (Prov 17:17).
Friendships nurtured and respected are truly amazing gifts. We can see this, at times, when we look at childhood relationships that carry on through national, secondary and even up through third-level education. It’s as if the length of time in years and experience of growing the relationships can be like a tree’s roots; that over time it’s still the same tree, definitely bigger, but it’s the roots that are the driving force. The roots are like that of a sound friendship, strong but fixed through thick and thin - so much so that friends become like brothers or sisters.
‘Whether it develops between persons of the same or opposite sex, friendship represents a great good for all. It leads to spiritual communion’ (CCC 2347).
This communion brings great joy and peace for all because true friends are something to really cherish. I feel it may even be safe to say that friends can at times carry us or even sustain us in times of loss or sorrow. Now, I know that trying to convey these ideas to children is not always easy especially when a child’s friendship can develop or deteriorate over one lunchtime period! But in any case, the idea of a friendship can be understood and enjoyed by every age.