“There can be no friendship where there is no freedom.  Friendship loves a free air, and will not be fenced up in straight and narrow enclosures.”

— William Penn

I remember, when we were children, that my sister had a friend named Lolly.  They went to school together and took the bus ride when we were shipped from our almost-rural location to the school in town that had the most space each year.  Lolly was true-blue.  She was interested in everything my sister did or said.  It seemed like a great friendship until the day that my unsuspecting sister scheduled to do something with another friend.  It was then that she learned the conditions Lolly placed on being her friend — she had to be your only friend.  There could be no room for anyone else if you wanted to hang out with her.  Condition upon condition began to surface, rules that she wanted to enforce to define the way their friendship would unfold.  Needless to say, the relationship was short-lived.  Few people enjoy being placed in a box by someone else and allowed to exist only within the boundaries defined by another person.

Friendship needs breathing room.  Perhaps it is just that space that allows true friendship to exist.  I used to say that I was fortunate, because amid the many people I loved and rubbed elbows with and shared my neighborhood with each day, there were a precious few — not great enough in number to exceed the fingers of one hand when counting them — with whom I shared true friendship.  That realization, which probably did not really gel until I was in my thirties, was profound.  It has shaped the way that I approach being a friend to others, and it has filled me with gratitude as I realize that I have been blessed with the company of people who love me without boundaries and give me breathing room and encourage me to grow and change.

It has been a while since my thirties, and my fingers are overflowing with friends.  It has taken time and effort and commitment to love, but the outcome has been astounding.  When I stop to consider it, I still am amazed that I could be blessed with an armload of true friends — friends who share their ideas with me and listen to mine, friends who are there in a pinch and free to accept my love and help when they need it, friends who encourage me to reach beyond the boxes I construct for myself and who venture out from their own constraints as we reach for the stars together.

Friendship is such a blessing that it calls for daily celebration.  Celebrate friendships today, and be sure to book a large room; because where friends encourage freedom to grow, there must always be room for one more.  Thank you for being my true friends.  I celebrate you today.