Soon after posting my last entry, “A shrinking circle of friends,” one friend who’s still in my circle sent me a long and thoughtful message in reply, a message that got me thinking about how my circle of friends takes shape and about what friends offer to one another. A longer “Part 2” to my original post is in the offing. In the meantime, Parker Palmer, in his latest On Being blog, offered up a poem by Mary Oliver that points me toward one of the things I find in my own circle of friends.
In “The Gift,” Oliver writes of playing a recording of some Mahler to a mockingbird that every day sang in a field she visited. “The mockingbird stopped singing, he came close and seemed to listen. / Now when I go down into the field, a little Mahler spills through the sputters of his song.”
Friendships “of the good” are like that, the friendships Aristotle identified that are based in part upon mutual respect and an appreciation for each other’s qualities. Friends are those whose songs mingle into the sputter of mine and, I hope, who find that my song, or even another’s that I play, mingles ever-so-slightly into theirs. Or maybe they are those who lead me to recognize that we are singing, somewhere in our depths, a common song in our own unique versions. Those are the friendships that endure. Stay tuned for Part 2.