I recently reconnected with a good friend I had lost touch with. It had been more than fifteen years since we had seen each other, but as is so often the case with good friends, we were instantly together again. It was as if the last time we’d talked was only a day or two ago, but since that time he had lived abroad, his family had gone through many changes, he had worked several different kinds of jobs, and there had been deaths. And still there was that presence of the friend, something immediate. This instant reconnecting often happens with deep friendship (though not always, I have also learned). It happens less frequently with other relationships, probably including marriage and parenthood.
Too little has been written about friendship—friendship between male and male, male and female, female and female, children, adolescents, adults, gay and straight people, older and younger people.
There is something sacramental about friendship. It has mattered so much to all of us, unless we have been terribly deprived. We celebrate (even create theologies around) marriage and monasticism; but friendship, an often daily wonder, is comparatively neglected.
This may be true only of the last century or so. In the nineteenth century, deep affection was frequently expressed between men and other men and between women and other women. Many of these exchanges have been seen in our time as homoerotic—this has been said of the relationship between Ishmael and Queequeg...
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About the Author
John Garvey is an Orthodox priest and columnist for Commonweal. His most recent book is Seeds of the Word: Orthodox Thinking on Other Religions.