Fear makes strangers of people
who should be friends.
True friends are small in number. For good reason — to nurture these relationships we have to build on life-stories shared and experienced together. Small in number, maybe, but these friends shine with the brightest light. By their side, we celebrate joyful moments of our lives. Times filled with promise, hope and celebration. With the strength of their support, we move through difficult of times of our lives. Times blanketed with the darkness of trust broken and the sadness of letting go of the most precious dreams. Whether the times are filled with joy or sadness, we are shield and comforted with a true friend by our side. No need for words just presence – when moments are shared and saved like notes in a diary.
Interesting – this Nigerian proverb does not say how to hold these friends. No description of a tight grip or straightened elbows – just to hold with both hands. Yet certainly, true friends are to be held with intent. Fully aware of the treasure before you, cradling it with the strength of gratitude.
I see myself in the picture above. No one would argue that each step taken by this child equals the strength of a million men – especially in his young body, mind and heart. I remember the struggle pulling each leg through to complete one step. Even when the last step felt impossible, the person by my side gave the extra push by their own excitement and praise. Without that support and persistence, who knows what my future would have looked like. Out of necessity I have redefined achievements along the way. It has taken a ‘village’ of supporters to keep faith, confidence and hope as motivation.
“When we begin to believe that there is greater joy in working with and for others…” Words worth so much! To see a need and offer what we can. To listen and share the hopes of others. By doing this we are nurtured in a mutual way. We are united with a sense of responsibility and gratitude. It is easy to see a situation like this and understand the need for a supportive and creative community.
These words are against the grain, there is no doubt. From TV to self-help books and teachings, we are conditioned to always place ourselves as first in priority. Look around, how can we be drawn toward a life where we share our resources and receive the gifts offered by others? To make it clear, we are not talking about sharing what we have with “those people” out beyond us. The quote above by Jean Vanier speaks of a particular way to share and work — a way that brings mutual benefit for all. If any time in our history has cried for this type of sharing, it is now.