Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 16 November 2019
A friend from the mid-80’s recently invited me for lunch when in the midst of our conversation she asked me how I unwind and take breaks as a priest considering my toxic schedules.
Suddenly, I just felt so light inside being filled with joy when I answered, “good old friends like you”!
We had a hearty laugh together as we remembered those good old days and nights with our other friends, wondering together how far we have all come in life, hurdling all those many struggles of our younger years.
When I was ordained priest in 1998, I promised to “leave behind” my family and relatives as well as friends to give myself totally in serving Jesus Christ among those people entrusted to my care.
I am so glad when I recently found out that I have not really turned away from them when I embraced a lifetime service to God because they have continued to keep me too as friend!
Old friends are always special because they have stood the test of time, standing by our side, believing in us during those many dark nights we have gone through even without us knowing it!
True friends are indeed a treasure especially those we have known and kept over the years because even if we no longer see each other so often or even communicate with them despite the suffocating social media around us, we have remained good friends deep in our hearts.
It is something we mutually feel deep inside for each other because despite our separation from college and from work or residence, we have never grown apart from each other as if there is an invisible thread that links us together.
I used to tell young people in my recollections that friends are always a gift from God. Each friend is unique, each with his/her own strengths and limitations. There are no perfect friends but if we can allow our friendships to have spaces for love and kindness, respect and understanding, mercy and forgiveness, friends can truly be the best gifts we can have in life.
Friends are a gift because they are always wrapped in mystery: the moment we receive them, we really do not know what is in store for us. In a similar manner like the lyrics of a song we loved singing in our daily Masses in the Minor Seminary (high school), friends are “gifts of God to me, who come all wrapped so differently: others so tightly, others so loosely, but wrappings are not the gift.”
Our task in every friendship is to uncover a friend’s “giftedness” to us, something which we cannot change. We can nurture and cultivate our friendships but we cannot force our friends into becoming someone they are not meant to be.
Every friend’s giftedness is from God because every friend is a signpost for us to be closer with God: some eventually become partners in life as husband and wife while others become the bestest of friends as “emotional shock absorbers” or a inspirations to another.
That, my friend, is something we cannot and must not dare alter because as the saying goes, people come to our lives for a reason, for a season, and for love.
Lately I have been seeing – “catching up” – some good old friends. What I like best when we are together is the ability and gift to laugh our hearts out like never before. There is something so deep with old friends laughing together not only with old jokes and anecdotes we cannot forget but also with some new realizations that come with our age.
And we laugh together, we realize we are not alone after all. There is still somebody very much like us, somebody we continue to grow up with, somebody who understands our fears and anxieties because he/she is also going through the same phase in life or have just gone through something similar.
That is why good old friends are the best because despite our long separation, we still find each other traveling, walking through the same path albeit for sometime in parallel manner.
They are the best because good old friends eventually teach us to be more appreciative and grateful with life and with friends who continue to journey with us no matter how slow and cranky we have become.
Cheers to all our old friends! Make time to reach out to them. Your message or text or call could mean so much to them!