When we first bought the store, our youngest, Archery, was having to spend a lot of hours there with nothing to do and no one to play with. That is until he met some new friends. In particular, a new friend, T. These two are inseparable when Archery is at the store. When I read this story, it made me think of the wonderful friendships I have been blessed with in my own life. I think I value friendship more to some degree because I have known loneliness.
I was friendless that first day in Mrs. Atkinson’s fifth grade class. The new, unfamiliar school echoed weirdly and smelled odd to me, and my stomach twisted and knotted up as I looked at all the unfamiliar faces. City kids had had the summer to find each other and form groups, but I’d been stuck in the country that summer playing in a hayloft with dolls. I knew none of these kids. And I wasn’t included in any of their groups at all.
It was awful.
I was left skittering around in desperation looking for my place, devastated that no one seemed to want to be my friend, and I cried into my pillow at night.
I spent some time in such misery before I found courage to heed some advice I’d been given: “Stop trying to find yourself a friend,” Mom had told me, “ and be a friend.” And being a little girl without the complications of an adult intellect, I accepted that literally and did that literally.
Stepping onto the bus the next morning was slightly easier because I had a plan. I climbed concrete steps into the building with a big determined heart focused outward rather than inward!
Now, I certainly did not understand the beautiful thing that happened that day, but I enjoyed it. Children are amazing in their ability to enjoy things they don’t understand. That day I consciously and systematically picked out a little girl to be a friend to and I worked at it.
And magic happened as it always does when our hearts shine outward and not inward.
Giving produces giving. Friendship produces friendship. We muster courage, pull in a big breath, and take a huge risk to give away the only basket we have with our few fishes and scanty loaves; and not only are we ourselves filled with food, but we are shocked to find twelve baskets full of extras to gather up at the end of the day.
I finished that school year with more friends than I’d ever had before. Many are still in my life all these years later.
Johannes Pedersen, A Danish theologian says it so well:
“Life consists in the constant meeting of souls, which must share their contents with each other. The blessed gives to the others, because the strength instinctively pours from him and up around him…The characteristic of blessing is to multiply.” Johannes Pedersen
“…the characteristic of blessing is to multiply.”