Of old friends and new.

I was a Brownie several hundred years ago, and one of the hallmarks of being a Brownie was learning Girl Scout lore.  As I matured in the Scouts I discovered that one of the aspects of Scout culture that resonated with me was music.  As an adult I had the opportunity to attend the Triennial gathering when it was held in Dallas.

Poor Dallas had no idea what hit them.

There was music *everywhere*.  Public transportation, hotel hot tubs, street corners and meeting rooms were filled with women’s voices singing in harmony.  It was transformative.

One of the classic GSUSA songs is “Make new friends…”.  For the uninitiated, the lyrics are as follows:  Make new friends, but keep the old:  one is silver and the other’s gold.

I had a deep discussion with someone recently about friendship.  We discovered that each of us had different expectations of what friendship looked like, and how it was enacted.  I’ve learned the following about myself.  For me, then…

1)  Friendship can be contextual.  I learned this difficult lesson years ago towards the end of my chaplaincy training (CPE).  At the end of an intense summer together, our Supervisor walked us through the steps of moving on.  One of the things he said was to not try and sustain the friendships beyond the context of the program.  He was spot-on.  Those friendships existed in a particular time and place for a specific purpose.  Facebook challenges all of that – but even in a social media world many of us understand context.  It’s fun to catch up with folks that we (insert experience here) with years ago… but unless there’s something more than that context, the friendship is merely another tally on the FB friends line.  This isn’t to diminish the relationship, but rather to understand it better.  I’m grateful for those friends who know me within a particular context as well as for those that cross the line over into something else.

2)  There are layers of friendship, and these are fluid.  Some individuals remain constant in my life, but they may not always be a significant part of my daily life.  I give thanks for those friends in particular.  These are the folks that I can sit down with and in minutes it is as if no time has passed.

3)  Sometimes the word “friend” isn’t sufficient.  We’ve tried as a society to adapt new ways of tagging one another, from the “best friend” of grade school to BFFS to Besties and beyond.  I think we’re simply stabbing at the surface of something deeper here.  There’s a point where friendship becomes family – that circle of individuals who are beyond blood ties and yet who are so connected to us that they *are* family.  Our fortune is doubled when our family are also our friends (and yes, I have been so blessed in this way!)

Old, new, acquaintances, soul-sisters, contextual-friendship and those that challenge the boundaries…. one may be silver and the other gold, but each are treasures.

2 Comments

I am so glad we are friends. I too find my circles of friends are multi-layered, fluid.and often part of certain chapters of my life. Forgive me for mixing metaphors…..

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