Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Age Disappears When Like Minds Meet

Today I spent three hours with my friend, Jesus. We talked and laughed, and the time flew by. Jesus is more than thirty years younger than I, but you'd never know it when we are talking together. Age disappears when like minds meet.

Three weeks ago, my friend, Frank, died. We could talk for hours about this topic and that and not grow the least bit bored or weary. At age 90, Frank was thirty years older than I, but you'd never know it when we were talking together. Age disappears when like minds meet.

Throughout my sixty years, I've been blessed to have friends of all ages. They make my life richer with their friendship, of course, but they also make my life richer by giving me different perspectives from their generations. These different perspectives allow me to see more of the wonder and complexity of the world than I would see on my own.

When I was a child, my best friend was Jane (and we are still friends after finding each other again in our early 30's). We met in 4th grade. We were both readers, and that was our initial connection. In each other, we found someone who understood us and our love for books. We spent one summer, when we were eleven years old, eagerly searching for Narnia together, and that summer search still stands as my ideal for an excellent summer adventure, even though we did not find Narnia.

It is natural to form friendships with your peers because, for the most part, you are going through the same stages of life at the same time, and your peers can understand and share your interests and concerns. But if your friends are only your peers, you lose out on the depth and breadth, the layered richness of life. 

When I was 19, I made my first older friend, Claire, who is twenty-eight years my senior. We bonded in a class. We sat by each other and talked and talked about every subject under the sun. We've shared forty years of friendship. Claire came for a visit last April, and once again we talked about everything under the sun. At almost 89 years old, she is my inspiration. Claire grabs the world in her hands and doesn't let go until she has squeezed every drop of experience out of it. And her example encourages me to do the same.

Then, in 1979 by sheer serendipity, I met John, my best friend. He is twenty-four years older than I, with the loveliest wife and the most delightful daughter. He was a history professor before he retired, and I have only a small interest in history, but we discovered within minutes of talking with each other that both of us thrilled to George Herbert's poems and loved Roger Whittaker's singing--what an unlikely combination that is, but that shared interest began the deepest of friendships that lasts to this day.

As I grew older, I thought the time for making new friends was past, but I was happily wrong. I began teaching at a community college, and before I knew it, I began making friends much younger than I, some of them the same age as my children, but these individuals see me as a person, as a friend, not as a mom. What a treat, what a delight! I learn so much from them--it's like seeing the world through fresh eyes, and what a lovely world it is indeed.

What is the secret to friendship? A simple answer would be shared interests, but friendship is SO much more, or perhaps other, than just shared interests. Perhaps a shared search, journey, or conviction would be a better way to define friendship. But the more I think of it, the more I believe that my favorite author, C.S. Lewis, described friendship best when he writes:

     "Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure. The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, "What? You too? I thought I was the only one."...The man who agrees with us that some question, little regarded by others, is of great importance can be our friend. He need not agree with us about the answer."

With a full, grateful heart, I celebrate all of my friends who are ageless when we are together because age disappears when our like minds meet.

Take care,

Kate

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