'Distant Togetherness'

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Even as the Tiber flowed, so did my thoughts. I reflected on the words that a very dear friend of mine wrote in her letter for my birthday. “You know ... almost daily I come to you ... talk to you in spirit... As I write this letter I feel you very close to me and I feel as if I am conversing with you ... “How could this be ever possible with this close friend thousands of miles away tucked up in a convent as a missionary in a different continent altogether? This is a miracle only friendship can work!

What a beautiful bond true friendship is; even more, it is a marvelous mystery! It spans both space and time. Neither distance nor death can either diminish or destroy it. It defies all barriers.

And yet in the deepest and closest of friendships there must be distance, "spaces in our togetherness" as the poet put it. There is always an inner sanctum so private and personal to which God alone has access and which He alone can enter. This "space" is necessary for friendship to grow. Any attempt to 'possess' a friend, to make him or her exclusively one's own to be his or her 'all', is the surest and quickest way to destroy a friendship!

Our closest friends, like fledgelings that take wing to explore the vast world that lies beyond their little nest, must be given the freedom to fly away and be on their own. There is no doubt much pain in this separation; but it is pain that is life-giving. It is like the pangs of childbirth when that infant, who for nine long months lay enclosed within the womb, physically one with its mother, now at birth is ushered forth with intense pain to live and grow on its own!

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