THE BLESSING OF FRIENDSHIP
There is a wise Yiddish adage that says: "If we thanked God for all the good in our lives, there wouldn't be time to weep over the bad."a
Isn't that wonderful? "If we thanked God for all the good in our lives, there wouldn't be time to weep over the bad."
During the month of November, we will spend our time each week together thanking God for the good - for our many blessings.
Today, the blessings for which we are being grateful - extremely, grateful - come in the form of friendship.
We came into this world so that God could have the experience of a tangible, material form. And part of that experience is the experience of being in relationships. As the famous quote goes: "No man is an island."
So, today we celebrate friendships!
Today, as we count the blessing of meeting God in the joy and love of FRIENDSHIP, I offer a profound welcome to each and every one of you who are here today. Because I consider you all friends and spiritual family.
As I was thinking about the blessing of friendship and how to speak about it from a spiritual perspective this morning, I thought of the piece entitled, "A Reason, A Season and A Lifetime" ( by Brian A. "Drew" Chalker), which I am sure you all have heard, at least in part. The beginning of it goes like this: "People come into our lives for a reason, for a season or for a lifetime."b
I really love that concept, and it is completely grounded on a deep spiritual insight. That sentence confirms what we, in Unity, teach and believe. We teach and believe that we are creative beings - in fact, we are always creating our experiences by right of consciousness.
What do I mean "by right of consciousness"? Our consciousness is a combination of what we think, feel and believe as well as our values, attitudes and actions. "By right of consciousness" means that those six things - again, our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, attitudes, values and actions - all work together to activate the Law (or some call it the Law of Attraction) and bring into our experience that which is consistent with them. Sometimes this is done at the conscious (aware) level; sometimes - often! - not.
I love the words of 19th Century French monk and mystic Teilhard de Chardin who wrote: "It is our duty - as men and women - to behave as though limits to our ability do not exist. We are co-creators of the Universe."c
So the spiritual truth is that every person who comes into our lives does so because we have called him or her in! And the concept that we call them in for. . .
. . . makes perfect sense to me, so we'll explore each one for a few moments this morning.
1. A REASON
1. A Reason
When someone comes into your life for a REASON, it is to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, or to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a Godsend to you - in fact, they are! They are there for a reason, you need them to be. And, of course, you are in their life for a reason also - they have called you in by right of their consciousness. They need you to be there!
Then, it seems that something goes wrong in the relationship, something happens to bring it to an end. They may get upset with you; you may get upset with them; but something happens and the relationship ends.
What we must realize is that our need (and theirs!) has been met, the desires have been fulfilled and your work together is done. The conscious or unconscious prayer you prayed was answered and it is now time to move on.
But how do you move on? The greatest way is to be in profound gratitude for the blessings that this friendship brought. Think of the gifts you received and you gave rather than the way the relationship ended.
A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face.
The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand: "Today my friend slapped me in the face."
They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a dip in the cool pond. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him.
After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone: "Today my friend saved my life."
The friend who had slapped and saved his friend asked him: After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?
The other friend replied: When someone hurts us, we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.
2. A SEASON
2. A Season
Then, there are those people whom we invite into our lives "by right of consciousness" for a season. This concept may have been inspired by the Scripture at Ecclesiastes 3:1 that says: "To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the sun."d
Those who come into our lives for a season teach us something we could not have learned without them. They bring us experiences of peace and love. They usually give us an unbelievable amount of joy.
But, it is only for a season. And like spring turns to summer, the summer to fall and the fall to winter, seasons eventually end.
So must these relationships, and they may end the same way the "Reason" relationships end. There could be hurt and pain around the leaving or they may end softly and quietly.
However it is that they end, believe in them. Rejoice in them! They are real and they serve us in amazing ways.
3. A Lifetime
3. A Lifetime
That takes us to Lifetime Relationships. They may not literally last your entire lifetime, by they are relationships you attract into your life for the long haul. They are relationships that allow you to grow and become the best you can be.
Those people who know you and accept you for who you are! You embody the love, support, and lessons you receive from them and then use it in all other relationships and areas in your life.
These relationships may shift and change over time, sometimes more involved and engaged; sometimes time or distance separates you. But the bond, the heart, the caring is always there.
Here's a wonderful description of a Lifetime friend. It's called The A - Z of Friendship
A Lifetime Friend....
(A)ccepts you as you are
(B)elieves in you
(C)alls just to say "HI"
(D)oesn't give up on you
(E)nvisions the whole of you (even the unfinished parts)
(F)orgives your mistakes
(I)nvites you over
(J)ust likes to be with you
(K)eeps you close at heart
(L)oves you for who you are
(M)akes a difference in your life
(P)icks you up
(Q)uiets your fears
(R)aises your spirits
(S)ays nice things about you
(T)ells you the truth when you need to hear it
(W)alks beside you
(X)-plain things you don't understand
(Y)ells when you won't listen (lovingly, of course) and
(Z)aps you back to reality when you need it!
Real, lifetime friends are those who, when you've made a fool of yourself, don't feel you've done a permanent job.
It says in Job 22:28: "Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee."e
and Ralph Waldo Emerson writes: "If you want a friend, be a friend."f
Florence Scovel Shinn writes in The Game of Life and How To Play It "All the good that is to be made manifest in man's life is already an accomplished fact in divine mind, and is released through man's recognition, or spoken word, so he must be careful to decree that only the Divine Idea be made manifest, for often, he decrees, though his "idle words," failure or misfortune."
"It is, therefore, of the utmost importance, to word one's demands correctly,...."
"If one desires a home, friend, position or any other good thing, make the demand for the "divine selection."
"For example: "Infinite Spirit, open the way for my right home, my right friend, my right position. I give thanks it now manifests under grace in a perfect way."g"
Winifred Hausman writes in Love-Powered Living: "If you would become more attractive to other people, don't limit yourself by concentrating only on clothing, cosmetics and conversation pieces. Rather, build within yourself an influence that is magnetic, mighty to attract others to you. Learn to love. Love first. Love the good in all persons. You don't have to like what they do, and you won't, in many cases, but you can always find some good to love. You can, when you are willing to look. And willingness to search out good in all persons is a very important part of learning to love."h
4. YOUR INTERNAL FRIEND
4. Your Internal Friend
I would be remiss in my role as your minister if I did not mention in this talk on friendship that you have another lifetime friend. One that Charles Fillmore writes: "When we understand and realize that God as Spirit is individualized in man, the abstract concept gives way to an indwelling, concrete identity that seems personal but has none of the limitations of personality. God is not a personality in the sense of being in any way apart from man's own self. Anything is personal when it is one's own possession. God is personal to us when we become aware of Him as the Father-Mind or Christ Mind within us and turn to it as our counselor, guide, and friend. God is to us whatever we conceive Him to be. When we learn the essential nature of God (Absolute Good) through becoming acquainted with Him in our mind, when we learn that God is wisdom, love, power, good, then we will produce experiences of wisdom, love, and goodness."i
And so my friends, we celebrate, honor and give thanks for the blessing of friendship - the friendships that we bring into our lives for a REASON, for a SEASON, for a LIFETIME and the internal, eternal everlasting Friendship of the Divine. This morning, let us be eternally grateful for each and every one of them.
I want to leave you with a short but powerful poem:
I looked for my soul, but my soul I could not see,
I looked for my God, but my God eluded me,
I looked for a friend,
and then I found all three.
That's the blessing of friendship!
Let us pray (Imelda Shanklin: Communion): "I will tell Thee all my thoughts. I will speak face to face with thee, as friend to friend.
My most secret desires I will declare freely to Thee. I will even search within myself, that I may find and present to thee whatever the depths of my heart may treasure. This will I do, that my soul may be made all clean.
I will listen for Thy words to me, as the flower roots listen for the spring rain.
Thy voice is as the music of a starlit night to my hearing. It is the song of the warm south wind in the fragrant pines. It is the cooing of the babe to its mother's smile.
Thy voice is as the voice of the robin when his long northward flight is ended and he sings from the high bough of the maple tree at the red sunrise.
I will send my mind to Thee, running to meet thee, to learn what I may do in obedience to thy thought for me.
Thy speech is to me such joy as never poet knew or harpist felt. My soul is rapt in an ecstasy of devotion at Thy most casual word.
The voice of the beloved in the ears of the lover is not so sweet as Thy whisper to me, when in the stillness of mortality thy understanding reaches my understanding.
Long have we spoken, the one to the other. From that bright morn in which time was given birth, to this present moment, my words have flown to Thee, thy words to me.
My thoughts melt into Thy thoughts, and peace possesses me as the air possesses space.
I know Thy heart and thou knowest mine; not two hearts, but one."j
bA Reason, A Season and A Lifetime Brian A. "Drew" Chalker
cTeilhard de Chardin
fRalph Waldo Emerson
gFlorence Scovel Shinn The Game of Life and How To Play It
hWinifred Hausman Love-Powered Living
jImelda Shanklin Communion