Friendship is romantic. In many cultures, the bond between friends was more celebrated than any other relationship.
Ever since a Valentine’s Day three years ago, I understand.
Hope and I were starting a great adventure in doing something new, but there was no money, building, or even a written plan. My Mom, Dad, brother, and adult children were there, because they are family. What else can a good person do, but stick with their family?
Yet a small group of friends gathered in our house on February 14, 2015. They wanted nothin but to serve and asked for nothing but some pizza! That was a good thing, because at that point we had nothing to give. That day I learned this lesson: friends will do for love what nobody would do for money.
This is a kind of romance: the love and deep adventure of friendship.
The romance of lovers has benefit for both. The gaze of the two is so intense that the two become one- able to produce new humanity. Friendship is utterly different as the friends gaze together at some virtue, a wisdom, or a shared joy and make an idea real. Where there was nothing, there is something.
Hirelings quit when the money runs out. Those whipped into obedience by fear pretend compliance, but wait for any moment of weakness to get free. The friend endures, because for good or bad, the friend believes in the common vision. Without this vision, the friendship perishes, so there is no room for a guru or king in friendship. There is a leader, but one who serves.
There is sublime romance in a band of sisters and brothers perusing the common good. Henry V had it right on Saint Crispen’s Day or at least Shakespeare understood. The band of friends can do anything. If it is a few, a happy few, against any great organization, then the happy few will win:
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
Friendship will clear the wilderness and that action will allow other relationships, including families, a place to exist. Friendship produces leadership that is not based on power, but love. The lone leader is to be pitied. The leader in a band of friends is joyful.
Friendship need not be exclusive, but ends up tight, because so few wish for absolute romance. Romance is a commitment to the other and friendship is a romance of shared vision. The entire culture can go to war with a band of friends and the friends will win as the tyrants, the rulers who use fear, fade.
This Valentine’s Day Hope and I have decided to give our celebration to the February 14 friends who stuck as close as my brother (love you Dan!). They were there when Mom and Dad gave us a good word from the Lord that challenged us that the adventure was just beginning. We will never forget.
What does that have to do with you?
Find a friend and love them in the sublime romance that wants nothing but to share in a common vision of wisdom, virtue, and joy. Friendship is available to all. There is no moral law against it- only liberty. Shake loose from the idea that only one sort of relationship is sublime, romantic. Instead, love your friends passionately and realize that this is a great good.
The greatest decadence of our time is the minimization of the Saint Valentine’s Day friendship and the greatest opportunity for unexpected joy is by speaking this truth and living out friendship this day of Saint Valentine: a man who died for his friends.
Happy Valentine’s Day February 14 Friends!