“May God grant you always ... A sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you, a sheltering angel so nothing can harm you. Laughter to cheer you. Faithful friends near you. And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you.” ~ Irish Blessings
Hanging on my kitchen wall is a little plaque given to me by my dear friend, John. He found it in a quaint Irish shop in Smithville and bought one for me and one for his wife, Rose.
It reads, "Sharing a cup of tea with a friend is happiness tasted and time well spent." Many cups of tea have been shared when Rose and I get together, and I've never wished I was doing anything else with my time.
That’s what it’s like when we spend time with friends. Those who are important to us are usually the ones who listen well, who have the capacity to empathize, who share our values or, sometimes, who encourage us to develop qualities or share experiences that we have resisted, usually because of fear.
I have also found that friends are a wealth of sage advice, and are not afraid to kick your backside when you need it – including helping you acknowledge and let go of your attachments.
It’s hard to imagine a life without friends.
In the middle of winter, some years ago, I was taking garbage out to the deck when I ran in to a very large spider hanging down from a single line of web. In the warmer weather, we seem to have an overabundance of spiders, but I’m not accustomed to seeing them when there's frost on the windows. His unexpected appearance reminded me of Charlotte, the compassionate, intelligent spider of the well-loved children’s book “Charlotte’s Web.”
For some reason, I never read the story until I was an adult, and I still got weepy, especially when Charlotte, who is going to die, says to Wilbur, the pig, “You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s life anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps, I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can use a little of that.”
What’s life anyway?
There seem to be days when we just can’t find an answer, when things seem so overwhelming that we wonder why we are here in the first place. But then, in those moments when we are able to lift up someone’s life a trifle, or when our lives have been enriched by someone else, we know, like Charlotte, that we are here for each other.
"Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both."
Surely, if God has given us any amazing gifts, the gift of friends is one of the best, especially the kind that last a lifetime; the kind that are genuine and encourage you to do the things you need to do to live life with joy and courage and faith.
This column is an excerpt from Mary Morrell’s e-book, “Let Go and Live: Reclaim your life by releasing your emotional clutter,” available on Amazon. Morrell is former managing editor of The Monitor and an award-winning writer, editor and educator working at Wellspring Communications. She can be reached at email@example.com, and read at her blog, “God Talk and Tea.”