Friday, May 24, 2013

A Sturdy Shelter

A Sturdy Shelter

May 24, 2013
Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

By Melanie Rigney

Let your acquaintances be many, but one in a thousand your confidant. When you gain a friend, first test him, and be not too ready to trust him. For one sort is a friend when it suits him, but he will not be with you in time of distress. Another is a friend who becomes an enemy, and tells of the quarrel to your shame. Another is a friend, a boon companion, who will not be with you when sorrow comes. When things go well, he is your other self, and lords it over your servants; but if you are brought low, he turns against you and avoids meeting you. Keep away from your enemies; be on guard with your friends. A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth. A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds; for he who fears God behaves accordingly, and his friend will be like himself. (Sirach 6:6-17)
Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.  (Psalms 119:35)
(Jesus) said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:11-12)

Lord, I lift up in thanksgiving the faithful friends you have placed in my life.

It is not by chance that Cursillo encourages us to first make a friend, then to be a friend. For unless we do the second by our actions in times of affliction, it is unlikely we will ever have the opportunity to do the third and most important part of that adage: bring that friend to Christ.

My friend Lora Zill came to visit last week. It’s an intense, sturdy friendship, in the manner Sirach describes. It’s not that our discussions are always deep and soulful. There’s a certain Pete Townshend song that makes the two of us and another friend laugh to the point of tears. But when Lora and I get together, we don’t spend much time talking about our love lives or lack thereof, or movies or TV shows. We talk a lot about God and obedience. We talk about the guidance we as writers rely on in our efforts to do his work, through my forthcoming book, Sisterhood of Saints, and the Christian poetry magazine she publishes, Time of Singing, and her new blog, The Blue Collar Artist. We talk about the times we’ve felt abandoned by the Lord… and about how he held us tight when we most needed him. We talk about the intersection of faith and creativity, of when pedagogy becomes art and whether a faithful re-creation of a painting is art or craft and if one or the other is more pleasing to God.

We know God in different ways, Lora and I. I tend a bit to the mystic side, while Lora knows the Bible practically backward and forward, as a former street evangelist. And while she doesn’t know much about Sirach, being a Protestant, our friendship came to mind when I prayed over these readings. And I hope God has gifted you with a treasure like her, a friend who attempts to reflect Christ and appreciates the times in which you reflect him back.

Consider the ways in which you are—and are not—the type of friend praised in Sirach. How can you better reflect Christ to those you love most?

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