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Confessions: True Friendship

True friendship is what you glue together between those who cling to you when love floods our hearts through the Holy Spirit, which is given to us.—Saint Augustine, Confessions 4.7

Augustine had a childhood friend whom he led astray through Manicheanism. The friendship as he describes it was excessively sweet because it was bound by similar intellectual pursuits. I understand this all too well. Just last night a good friend of mine send me a message that read:

‘Excessively sweet’ is how I would describe our friendship; good enough that it deserves an anniversary. For 10 years, what has bound us together is intellectual pursuits. While most would get bored about hearing the minute details of textual criticism, ancient near eastern understanding of ancient texts, Greek mythology, Mayan mythology, philosophy, world religion, economics, history, and politics, we find joy in conversing endlessly on these topics. As an introvert, friends are difficult to come by for me. Especially friends who are interested in talking about the things that truly interest me and who I intellectually respect enough to push back and challenge me. But with this friend, it comes easy. Easy to intellectually stimulate, laugh and process.

Deep connection is hard for anyone to find, not just for introverts. Some people have lots of friends but few whom they would use the word ‘sweet’ to describe the friendship. But when it is found it is cherished because it is a divine gift, just as the Holy Spirit is a gift from a gracious and merciful God. The believer experiences the community of the Godhead vicariously through his/her friendships. When we cling to God, and love floods our hearts, God glues together true friendship.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.—Romans 5:5

Holy One of Israel, give us excessively sweet friendships, just as your friendship is excessively sweet.

Note: These are my daily reflections as I go through Saint Agustine's Confessions. Unless otherwise noted, I am using Sarah Ruden's translation of the original text, and the NIV.


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