by Deacon Wayne Charlton

The random card that came up for today is Friendliness: “Friendliness is reaching out to others with warmth and caring. It is the willingness to be an intimate companion. Friendship is essential to our goals. We value ourselves enough to know that we deserve true companionship. We attract others by what we are willing to contribute. What we give we get. The presence of a friend can soothe us, unleash our laughter, amplify our joy and diminish our sorrow. Friends are compassionate witness to one another’s stories. We share our time, our attention, our love, and above all ourselves. We look upon strangers as friends we haven’t met yet. Friendliness is the best cure for loneliness (From The Virtues Project).”

From what I’ve heard and been told, the way the word “friend” is used on Facebook is not what the writer of this particular Virtues Card had in mind. Although, if you have the Facebook use of the word in mind as you read the card it may produce a smile. It did for me!

All kidding aside though, I don’t think the word friend or friendliness (in the truest sense) has ever been more important. There have been constant television and radio commercials during these “pandemic days” encouraging us to reach out and stay connected with those who are important to us. There is strength in numbers and we all need to find ways to remain connected, even while physical distancing, because this IS the way we were made. We are made for community not to live in isolation. This is why solitary confinement is considered a punishment! So, don’t even think you can do this alone.

In my work as a hospital chaplain I have often heard patients or family members tell about how through the illness (or death) “friends became strangers and strangers became friends.” In the conversation they would expand on this in one way or another but the bottom line is that the illness (no matter the outcome) revealed to them who they could truly count on and unfortunately, a lot of the time, it wasn’t the ones they thought would always be there for them. My guess is that this pandemic will produce some of the same results for some of us…we may lose some valued relationships even after trying to connect “remotely” numerous times. But my encouragement is to remember to put the effort into nurturing relationships with those who do respond. There will be time for the sorting out of relationships later on but for now find the strength in the connections you are able to make.

If you have been working, I want to remind you how lucky you are to be able to go to work every day! I’m sure you have a few friends, maybe even some treasured ones there, so you are able to connect and actually be in the other’s physical presence (while observing the necessary precautions). There are many people yearning for this every day they wake up so please savor what you have (in being able to go to work, as crazy as that sounds)!

While you are there continue to do what you do best of all, care for others in a friendly way…”Friendliness is reaching out to others with warmth and caring.”

Please be good to yourself and stay well.

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