In an earlier post, I promised I would write about one of the new books I am reading, "The Feast of Friendship" by Fr. Paul O'Callaghan.
While Fr. Paul's book is not as scholarly a work on the subject like John Zizioulas' "Being as Communion" is, it still is a very succinct and well written overview of the nature of friendship.
Something in the epilog caught my eye. Here is what he says:
"As this book was being prepared for publication, a bishop from overseas visited our parish. After he had completed the retreats and seminars, I accompanied him to the airport with our local bishop and a monk....As he moved up the line [past security check points], he did a curious thing. On two occasions, he turned fully around with his back to the gate and simply looked at us. He didn't gesture or attempt to communicate. He just looked at us. At that moment, I realized what we all knew: there was a good chance that he would never see us again."
When we talk about friendship or community, one of the most important features of healthy relationships is just the simple awareness and recognition of the "Other." So often, we don't take the time to really listen or even to just look and be aware and thankful for the neighbor who is before us. To see Christ in every person who we come in contact with.
Again, C.S. Lewis puts this so well in the last paragraph of his essay, "The Weight of Glory":
"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if it all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. You have never talked to a mere mortal....Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses."
Out here in blogosphere, this kind of recognition is tough. Internet community is in many ways a shell of what true community is (there are lots of Incarnational ideas wrapped up in that), but those of us who blog, can and do create meaningful, rich friendships. We do this by being aware of the text on the screen and reading it through every possible lens we can so as to make sure we are not misunderstanding the intent. Being aware that the text hides a real person behind it is one of the hardest things a blogger has to do. But I love the challenge!