On the joy of deep friendship

Surrounded by multitudes, we can still be alone.

And the number of ‘likes’ isn’t an indication of genuine relationships.

Yet even in this world of temporary connections, shiny objects and manufactured perfection, we can still cultivate true friendships. That is, if we are willing to be open and vulnerable and, with grace, embrace our respective humanities.

This week I have been particularly reminded of the significance of close relationships.

The lovely quote from e e cummings drew me into a more profound sense of mutuality, and it is worth repeating:

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”

+ e e cummings

And this echo of witness and accompaniment is beautifully expressed by David Whyte in his book Constellations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words:

“… the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self: the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.”

+ David Whyte, from Constellations, Canongate, 2019

This reminds me that the quality of relationship that I yearn for – and want to reciprocate – isn’t measured by duration or the number of words. Instead, it is a complementarity that brings us both alive.

Blessing our friendships

John O’Donohue, who knew the depth of relationships in his life, wrote this moving blessing. It invites us to lay aside our passivity and embrace the honour of entering into a deeper relationship with ourselves and others.


May you be blessed with good friends,
And learn to be a good friend to yourself,
Journeying to that place in your soul where
There is love, warmth and feeling.
May this change you.

May it transfigure what is negative, distant
Or cold within your heart.

May you be brought in to real passion, kindness
And belonging.

May you treasure your friends.
May you be good them, be there for them
And receiving all the challenges, truth and light you need.

May you never be isolated but know the embrace
Of your Anam Ćara.

+ John O’Donohue from Benedictus: a Book of Blessings, Bantam Press, 2007

Today I appreciate Steve, my best friend of well over four decades.

And who do you value, and do you need to let them know?

This week