This one is easier than most and harder all at the same time. The easy part is that it’s clearly an order, or a suggestion, or at least a reminder to be a friend.
I like the shape of befriend in the mouth when I say it, the way it wraps its concept into oneness with syllables. Be a friend. Be friend. Befriend. Nice. Simple.
It’s the “What does that mean?” part that gets awkward and complicated, and I’m going to steer mostly clear of that quagmire. (Heh. Not a word I get to type often.)
A friend steps up. A friend has your back. A friend listens, any time day or night. A friend gives you the shirt off her back, he feeds you when you’re sick, he defends you against detractors at your side and behind your back.
There are a million ways to be a friend to someone. Hence the many assorted memes about friendship and those bonds of loyalty and infinite different interpretations on whether a friend backs you on any play or pulls your head out of your ass when you need it.
There’s something about the one that goes, “A friend bails you out. a true friend helps you bury the body,” that seriously creeps me out, but that’s fodder for a different post. In any case, there’s no single definition of what being friends means, exactly what friends do.
But seeing the word itself today, that’s a helpful nudge in a season that has become increasingly focused on lists of personal wants and worldly desires. When in doubt, when surrounded by the bitter, the harsh, the tense and the hurried, maybe befriend someone. Stranger or acquaintance, maybe even a good friend gone distant — back their play. Offer an ear or a shoulder. Give them a shirt, if that’s what they need.
But maybe don’t help bury a body. Unless that’s your thing.
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