The Refuge of a Friend

Okay, one more post from Stephen Nichols’ Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life ought to do it. This one is a brief rabbit trail on friendship which I found very inspiring. It immediately followed the description of Bonhoeffer’s Thursday Circles:
We should not overlook the small circle of community, that of friendship. Probably no friendship of Bonhoeffer’s speaks to this more poignantly than that he shared with Eberhard Bethge. The kind of friendship Bonhoeffer and Bethge shared is sadly all too rare. This was the kind of friendship everyone wants, even needs. Bonhoeffer, the elder of the two, was more a mentor at first. But as the seasons rolled on and the bond forged, he looked to his friendship with Bethge as refuge. In 1944, Bonhoeffer memorialized their friendship in a poem he simply titled “The Friend.” It speaks of the levels of friendship we develop, recalling the days of youth and the playmates who share our childhood adventures “into wonderous, faraway realms.” But as we get older and life settles in, our soul “longs for friendship’s understanding spirit.” And when God graciously grants such a friendship, we treasure it. We treasure it because we need it:
“Like a fortress, where the spirit returns
After confusion and danger,
Finding refuge, comfort, and strength
Which is the friend to the friend.” (65,66)
There isn’t really much more I can say in reflecting on this except that I am so thankful to have a few friends like this in my life. And when I read those words, fortress, refuge, comfort, and strength, I know exactly what he means. I’m thankful that my husband is all these things to me. And I’m most thankful that my God is good, that he epitomizes these words and expectations of friendship. What a blessing it is when he sends people in your life that reflect his goodness in this way.