A friend stays with you in solidarity
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
You might remember moments in which you were called to be with a friend who had lost a wife or husband, child or parent. What can you say, do, or propose at such a moment? There is a strong inclination to say: "Don't cry; the one you loved is in the hands of God." 'Don't be sad because there are so many good things left worth living for" But are we ready to really experience our powerlessness in the face of death and say: "I do not understand. I do not know what to do, but I am here with you." Are we willing to not run away from the pain, to not get busy when there is nothing to do, and instead stand in the face of death together with those who grieve?
The friend who cares makes it dear that whatever happens in the external world, being present to each other is what really matters. In fact, it matters more than pain, illness, or even death. It is remarkable how much consolation and hope we can receive from authors who, while offering no answers to life's questions, have the courage to articulate the situation of their lives in all honesty and directness. Kierkegaard, Sartre, Camus, Hammarskjold, and Merton: none of them have ever offered solutions. Yet many of us who have read their works have found new strength to pursue our own search. Their courage to enter so deeply into human suffering and to become present to their own pain gave them the power to speak healing words.
Therefore, to care means first of all to be present to each other. From experience you know that those who care for you become present to you.
When they listen, they listen to you. When they speak, you know they speak to you. And when they ask questions, you know it is for your sake and not for their own. Their presence is a healing presence because they accept you on your terms and they encourage you to take your own life seriously.
We do not love people so much for the good they have done us, as for the good we do them.
Happiness consists in frequent repetition of pleasure.
Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.