Among all the blessings that come to us throughout our lives, the gift of genuine friendship is one of the most beautiful and wondrous.
I remember the first forays I made into the mysteries of friendship. I was very young, not much older than a toddler, and the street on which I lived teemed with little kids. It was not long before the ways of making friends gave me my first playmates — the kids next door and across the street.
We played outside a lot and on rainy days the basements of our houses offered save havens from the stormy weather. I can still remember the items that adorned the walls of their basements. There was a red Felix the Cat clock, its plastic tail moving from side to side as the minutes ticked away. And there were cabinets along the floor, beneath a long couch with cushions, in which were stored all kinds of board games like Monopoly and Parcheesi.
The mysteries of the passing of time, aging, and God had not yet made the scene. Of course, they were at play with us all the while. But we did not know that yet. We were too young to delve into such heady things.
But those mysteries had been making a steady and sure inroad into our lives from the moment we were born.
I turned 66 at the end of May and a lot of cards and letters came in. It was really nice to be remembered by my friends and family, people near and far.
We moved from that first street many years ago and I wonder what happened to those first friends. I hope they are well, that life has been kind to them in life.
We gave each other more than we were able to realize back then. I like to think that I have used as best I can those early gifts of friendship as I moved on into my later years.
It was a long time before I took a serious look at the Trinity. And it did not take too long a time after that first look to realize that the mystery of their life was way over my head.
To peruse the literature on the Trinity leads one into some very heady theological territory. I have met people over the years who are well versed with all the tomes that have been written about the Trinity all through the centuries. I have heard lectures, attended classes, read books and pondered all the many layered meanings that these offered.
I must confess that the mystery of the Trinity is no clearer to me.
Looking back on my life, I do not know that it really matters. I may not be able to grasp the finer details of their life and relationship as these are enjoyed by Father, Son and Spirit. Yet I have a feeling that they gave their best in revealing themselves to me in and through all the friends I have been blessed with over the years.
If the essence of the Trinity is relatedness, if the meaning that can be gleaned from their life is one that is best taken to heart through sharing, accepting, giving and receiving, then all of these hallmarks of friendship are far more revelatory than the surface exchange of human friendliness.
The mystery of the God who shares his communitarian life is born into human life through friendship. Whether we are explicitly aware of it or not, relationship and the need for it is at work in our hearts for as long as we live, which, thanks be to God, is forever.
God invites us into His life and He, too, has enjoyed a long a lively friendship. We are a part of that, though it may take a long time to figure out all the finer details. But that does not stop the giving of the gift.
Many years ago I watched the tail of Felix the Cat swaying back and forth as the seconds ticked by. I was too young to understand how fast those seconds would pass.
But I wasn’t too young that the friends I made back then were leading me into the world of the Divine, a world that has never passed away, a world beyond seconds and time, a world that showed itself through the play time of God and kids.
Father James Stephen (Jeff) Behrens, O.C.S.O., serves at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, 2625 Ga. Highway 212 S.W., Conyers. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.