Friendship is the place where our hearts are touched

and moved. Moved toward some depth of feeling

and insight. Moved toward some new courage ushering

me closer to a risk that has been waiting for me.

My friend remembers himself in my presence,

assuring me that distractions will be minimal.

My friend remembers me, and in this collective

remembering, I am wrapped in belonging.

The fear of remembering myself peels away. 

I, once again, find residence in my own soul.

Fear’s grip begins to atrophy and I offer a welcome

to my brokenness. Shame’s relentless pounding is

silenced as his compassionate gaze softens my

vision of my inevitable imperfections. An unnecessary

striving finds a temporary respite in his company.

I risk giving a voice to some personal triumph.

I don’t hear an accusation of excessive boastfulness.

I don’t see down-trodden eyes suggesting some

self-diminishment on behalf of the listener. I sense

no wave of envy that would have a man stepping

away.  I don’t understand. Where is the chilling

wind of competition measuring one man against

the other? There is only the celebratory gaze

of my friend, blessing my good fortune.

I come to understand why the ancient sage referred

to Philia, or friendship, as the highest of all virtues.    

It is about being accompanied. It is that company

I return to after succumbing to some seduction to

to be excessively appropriate, or an eagerness to

impress.  In this friendship, I’ve come to know home.

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