2023.41 : Seven Days Of Friendship

Around The Globe Circa 2023

One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences.

— John O’Donohue, 'Anam Cara'

Seven intense days of listening and being heard atop the baseline intensity of care-taking. Apple and apricot, from the orchard, lard crust pie in the oven. A few words before sleep’s warm embrace.

The week started off with reactions to last week’s photo essay. The first friend mentioned therein texted a reply as soon as they were back on the grid from holiday, which was before reading the essay. That kindness lifted my spirits. After reading the essay, she sent very kind, well-articulated thoughts. Friendship confirmed.

The second friend – mentioned in the same – and I went about the task of true friendship by listening compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences. Friendship deepened to new heights.

As I feared, the third friend in the aforementioned went the entire week without it dawning on him that he participated in one of our life-long great pet peeves: when someone answers a direct question with a question.

Then there was another plot twist. One of our fellow subscribers unsubscribed, and no, not a member of the church, a non-believer. We had a pleasant email exchange with an invitation to return anytime.

Enough for one week, one might think. Nope.

My morning barista asked me how I was doing. A new reply bubbled to the surface, “I am blessed with true friends who live all around the world. The not so obvious downside to that is my year is filled with extra worry because of world events impacting one friend or another.” Examples of worry follow from just this week:

An Ukrainian friend living nearby went back to visit her father, who isn’t allowed to leave the country due to the war. Russia announced a fresh offensive. Worry until I later heard they failed. She and her family are safe and sound.

Yet another vicious war broke out this week in another part of the world. No less than four friends who were living their best lives overnight became refugees. Their young children need to be taken to safety. Worry until I reached out to three of the four; thankfully, they have networks that will protect them. The fourth, I have slept in their home, as they have in mine. I knew her before she met her husband and father of their two small children. I hear in her hidden silence the fog of war. I apologize to her in advance as I attempt to clear some of the fog for my friend. Thankfully, it worked. Clarity returned upon which she acted without hesitation, moved heaven and earth for her family. All those friends have friends on the other side of the war and worry for them… an ocean of unimaginable pain.

An unexpected injection of normalcy late in the week. A buddy and I went to dinner, then billiards.

Worried my friend spending one night alone in Bangkok hadn’t responded to text several weeks later. This week, she replied all is well with kind words for having instilled worry.

Three friends in Japan asked when I can return so we can once again enjoy each other’s company. Worry as their government pours millions of gallons of radiated water into the ocean.

Another one of my brothers from another mother is living in China and asked when I can come and play. Worry as I posted comments online about the CCP taking back Hong Kong. Can’t risk returning to China, for I am likely on a list.

Had enough? I had, but then late in the week, I finally got on the phone with the man, my friend, most responsible for shaping my manhood. He’s preparing to enter hospice. Worried.

As he taught me, “metal sharpens metal.” All the worry and suffering I’d much rather have avoided, until I reflect on how every one of those friendships is now stronger because of it.

This week’s photo of an exploded pomegranate is as my heart feels, bursting with gratitude for so many wonderful friends. If you want to hear the soundtrack to it, hear it in the companion video below.

And now… know the photograph.

With A Little Help From My Friends - Joe Cocker

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