Text and Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio
If you find a person who has only one friend, don’t pity him. Instead, feel sorry for someone who has a thousand acquaintances. “If you have two friends in your lifetime, you’re lucky. If you have one good friend, you’re more than lucky,” S.E. Hinton once said.
Because once you find a true friend, it will be forever. Robert Alan said it well when he wrote: “The rain may be falling hard outside, but your smile makes it all alright. I’m so glad that you’re my friend. I know our friendship will never end.”
Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers the world has ever known, also said: “Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”
“Remember,” Cindy Lew reminds, “the greatest gift is not found in a store nor under a tree, but in the hearts of true friends.” How true. For he “who finds a faithful friend,” a Jewish saying states, “finds a treasure.”
I have known some people who have no true friends. The reason is that they judge the outside appearance of a person, not what is inside. Value a person for what he is and not what he has.
Allow me to share this story sent to me via electronic mail: A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves, he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake. They didn’t look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the bag out of the cave with him.
As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could. He thought little about it until he dropped one of the clay balls, and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone!
Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure. He found thousands of pesos worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left.
Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of pesos in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he had just thrown it away!
As a sort of comparison, the e-mail explained: “It’s like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. It doesn’t look like much from the outside. It isn’t always beautiful or sparkling, so we discount it.
“We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy. But we have not taken the time to find the treasure hidden inside that person.”
In other words, there is a hidden treasure in each of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, and if we ask God to show us that person the way He sees them, then the clay begins to peel away, and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.
May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay. As such, we have to see each person the way God sees them.
Henri J.M. Nouwen, in Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life, wrote: “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
What a friend, indeed. “Friendship, my definition, is built on two things: respect and trust,” Stieg Larsson said in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. “Both elements have to be there. And it has to be mutual. You can have respect for someone, but if you don’t have trust, the friendship will crumble.”
American journalist and photographer Jon Katz has this belief: “I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.”
Another American author and writer James Lecesne thinks so too. “This is how it works,” he said. “I love the people in my life, and I do for my friends whatever they need me to do for them, again and again, as many times as is necessary. For example, in your case you always forget who you are and how much you’re loved. So what I do for you as your friend is remind you who you are and tell you how much I love you. And this isn’t any kind of burden for me, because I love who you are very much. Every time I remind you, I get to remember you, which is my pleasure.”
Now, find a friend – a true friend. An unknown author penned this statement: “Sometimes in life, you find a special friend. Someone who changes your life just by being a part of it. Someone who makes you laugh until you can’t stop. Someone who makes you believe that there really is good in the world. Someone who convinces you that there really is an unlocked door just waiting for you to open it. This is forever friendship.
“When you’re down and the world seems dark and empty, your forever friend lifts you up in spirit and makes that dark and empty world suddenly seem bright and full. Your forever friend gets you through the hard times, the sad times and the confused times. If you turn and walk away, your forever friend follows. If you lose your way, your forever friend guides you and cheers you on. Your forever friend holds your hand and tells you that everything is going to be okay. And if you find such a friend, you feel happy and complete because you need not worry. You have a forever friend, and forever has no end.”