How to be a friend.

“Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.”
– Aristotle

“Friendship is the only thing in the world concerning the usefulness of which all mankind are agreed.”
– Cicero

“The bird a nest,
the spider a web,
man friendship.”
– William Blake

“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dear members and friends of SF Swedenborgian Church,

Amongst all seasons, fall seems to be the season that inspires us to have a deep reflection on our life. This fall, I have been contemplating friendship and what it means to be a friend. Certainly, there are several ways to define what a friend is. Consequently, there can be a variety of reasons why one person desires to befriend another. However, having a friend and friendship is crucially important in maintaining our psychological and spiritual health. As humans are defined as social animals, having a social time with friends not only nourishes one’s mind, but also reaffirms one’s value in the human community.

The Bible certainly values “friendship.” In Proverbs, we read, “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (18:24).” And there is the famous story about the friendship between King David and Jonathan, a son of King Saul. Then, in John, Jesus teaches, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (15:13).”

So, who is a friend? According to Zhuang-zi, a friend is the one who knows and understands another. Then, how do you understand another person? There is a very simple and age-old practice: pay attention. Paying attention is easy and simple, but requires effort and time. Therefore, being a good friend means being willing to invest time and effort for the sake of friendship. At the same time, if you desire to be known and understood, you must follow another age-old practice: take the risk and share yourself.

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee