Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Meditation on Friendships

In April of 1994 a classmate and friend of mine died in a car crash. Terry left instructions
that the following passage from the Hebrew Scriptures be read at his funeral. The passage is taken from the Book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) and was written between 200 to 175 BCE. The ancient date and radically different culture reveal how much human beings share in common, despite cultural and historical differences.

“A pleasant voice multiplies friends, and a gracious tongue multiplies courtesies. Let those that are at peace with you be many, but let your advisers be one in a thousand.

When you gain a friend, gain him through testing, and do not trust him hastily. For there is a friend who is such at his own convenience, but will not stand by you in your day of trouble.

And there is a friend who changes into an enemy, and will disclose a quarrel to your disgrace.

And there is a friend who is a table companion, but will not stand by you in your day of trouble. In your prosperity he will make himself your equal, and be bold with your servants; but if you are brought low he will turn against you, and will hide himself from your presence.

Keep yourself far from your enemies, and be on guard towards your friends.

A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he that has found one has found a treasure. There is nothing so precious as a faithful friend, and no scales can measure his excellence.”

[Sirach 6: 5-15]

1 comment:

Chris said...

These are indeed wise words, no doubt learned through some pain. I'm sorry for the loss of your friend, which time tempers but does not erase. My dear seminary friend Hans died a year ago on 4.7 and I have been mourning him since; I think the first year is the hardest.

Who is a friend, but one who can stay true or get true in a time of need, and yet you don't know until you get there? One of the things that made Hans such a dear friend was that he was there to hold me once when my world came so close to falling apart. Such need can scare people away or turn them off if they're not friends, or appear as an opportunity for manipulation if their intentions are not pure. But they also give friends a chance to step up in ways that just regular times don't.

May you have true friends attend your way.