It was a warm summer afternoon and I was playing outside, exploring the grass and trees. I was four years old. I looked up and coming down our cul-de-sac was a four year old boy on a Big Wheel. His name was Randy. He saw me running around the yard, and got off his ride and ran over to play. The rest is history.
For the next 14 years, Randy and I were best friends. Maybe the best friend I've ever had. We spent endless days, evenings, and weekends playing anything and everything. You name it. We were truly best friends. True friends. We would have laid down in traffic for each other. I remember when his parents got a divorce, and I spent extra time with him since I could tell he was having problems with the change. He spent more time at our house, and going with us to Mass.
When neighborhood rivalries sprang up, we stuck by each other's side. The authenticity of the friendship just was. I didn't philosophize about it. The loyalty didn't take long hours of discernment to commit to.
Flash forward to senior year high school. Randy jumped off the deep end of sex, drugs, and alcohol. Looking back on it, I am sure his bad choices reflected his increasingly difficult home life. But his departure from innocence divided us. I was not willing to jump into the deep end with him, and in a year or two,the 14 year friendship--which was probably one of the most authentic and truest friendships I have known--unfortunately faded away forever.
The thing is Randy was not raised in a religious home. One time coming with us to Mass, when he heard the reading from the Epistle of St. Peter, he asked if one of the altar boys was St. Peter. When it came to religion or God, he was largely ignorant.
But for those 14 years, that friendship was the most Christian friendship I've ever known. It wasn't a fair weather friendship, or mere utilitarian friendship. Since adulthood, I've not been lucky enough to have such a lasting, authentic friendship. Perhaps such is a rare gift in life.
How about you? Have you been blessed with true friendship?