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Stay Connected

by the Rev. Paul McLain

 

Since last Wednesday, I experienced the deaths of six persons in my circle of Calvary, previous parishes, and personal friendships. And some of you told me of others in your circles who died over the last few days. Two mantras I keep repeating have helped me through these days. One is, ‘be gentle with yourself.’ The other is ‘stay connected.’

 

The newspaper columnist from the days of print and ink that I miss most is Sydney J. Harris. He wrote: ‘One thing we learn, or should learn, as we grow older is to keep our friendships in repair; otherwise, they deteriorate with time and weather, just like a neglected fence. One of my biggest regrets is a friendship I failed to keep in repair, some years ago, for the usual insufficient reasons – lack of time, too many other concerns, travel, and family affairs. Then, when I finally got around to it, my friend had died while I was out of town and I learned about it only later. This was a bitter experience because he needed old friends in his last, struggling year, and I was not there to give even moral support.’

 

I can identify with this regret because one of those who died this past week was Sarah, my ‘big sister’ during years of volunteering with community theatre in south Mississippi. I saw her last fall for her mother’s funeral but did not stay in touch with her during this final year of her cancer journey. I spoke with a friend yesterday who talked about ‘living amends.’ By that he meant, we may not be able to make amends with those who have died, but we can honor them by making amends with others going forward. I am working to do that by seeking to stay more connected with those I love. And the first mantra, ‘be gentle with yourself’ is helping too.

 

Jesus pays his disciples, including us modern-day ones, the ultimate compliment when he says, ‘I no longer call you servants but friends.’ (John 15:15) Sydney Harris concluded his column this way: ‘No one really understands friendship, any more than we understand a romantic affinity. It is more, and different than a meeting of minds, a conjunction of interests, or a similarity of backgrounds, though it may include all these things. One of my dearest friends disagreed with me on almost everything in the world – the only thing we agreed upon was that we liked, enjoyed, and trusted each other. If you have this, you don’t need anything else; and if you don’t, nothing else matters.’ Dear friends, who do you need to connect with this week?


17 thoughts on “Stay Connected”

  1. My close friends have kept me alive and loved during some of the most painful times of my life. I hope that in my older age I will continue to nurture those relationships. Thank you for this reminder Paul. 🙂

    Katy

    1. You’re welcome, Katy. Thanks for sharing about how the friendships in your life have been life-giving. Hope and pray you and all of us can seek ways to nurture these relationships moving forward.
      Love and Blessings,
      Paul

  2. The other side of this is reconnecting. Over the past couple of years, I’ve reconnected with two high school classmates. We were not close, not “BFFs”; but now we are very much alike in our thinking, and I’m glad to get to know them again.

    1. Nancy, thanks for pointing out the value of reconnecting with those you may not have been close to in the past and discovering deeper levels of friendship years later.
      Love and Blessings,
      Paul

  3. Thank you Paul. I try hard to nourish my friendships, but I know I fall short sometimes. Your message is a fresh reminder to stay in touch and also to get back in touch with friends I haven’t seen in a while. They are such a great gift in my life.

  4. Beautifully written. I love the idea of “living amends”. It’s so true. We beat ourselves up over not keeping in touch with people. It’s just life. Thank you. 🙂

  5. Thank you, Paul, and condolences on your loss. This reminds me how I want to live and love- keeping what is important being people at the top of my priorities.

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