C.S. Lewis in his book about love entitled, The Four Loves, writes about the exponential blessing of philia (brotherly love) or “friendship”. In this picture (taken in April 1987) are my friends. Not many have known me longer or more deeply nor have been more patient and enduring. Though I don’t think it unusual for college friends to remain friends throughout their lives, I do think it always surprises people when they see it. So very many relationships fall apart from conflict or mere neglect. Lasting friendships take effort and time.
In Lewis’ chapter on friendship, he speaks of the exponential impact that friends have on friendship. Here is what he has to say,
“Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, “Here comes one who will augment our loves.” For in this love “to divide is not to take away.” Of course the scarcity of kindred souls— not to mention practical considerations about the size of rooms and the audibility of voices— set limits to the enlargement of the circle; but within those limits we possess each friend not less but more as the number of those with whom we share him increases. In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another (Isaiah VI, 3). The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.”
C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Lewis’ explanation has certainly been my experience. Daus, Hugo, Ridge Norm, Eric, and Esteban, thank you for blessing me.
Rolling ’round upon the plate of this world
Our mercurial lives split, break apart —
Travel far out but in time are curled
Back where the whole is greater than the part.
Our philadelphia is augmented;
One friendship by seven does not divide.
The more we shall have, the more oriented;
The Bread’s fullness and blessing is amplified.
And so, back to the cabin to sit in the chair,
Re-tell the stories, and hear of the new —
Bearing our burdens to shoulder and care
And call each to Christ, our weariness undo.
For these men, this brothered band befriended,
I repair to the cabin in love and laughter mended.
© Randy Edwards 2016
photo: Brian May