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Friendship: Vital for Our Whole-Being

A Friendship Blessing

Poem by John O’Donohue

May you be blessed with good friends.

May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.

May you be able to journey to that place in your soul where there is great love, warmth, feeling and forgiveness.

May this change you, May it transfigure that which is negative, distant or cold in you.

May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship and affinity of belonging. May you treasure your friends.

May you be good to them and may you be there for them; may they bring you all the blessings, challenges, truth, and light that you need for your journey.

May you never be isolated.

May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your anam cara (soul friend).

In John O’Donohue’s poem, A Friendship Blessing, the next to the last line reads may you never be isolated. Written decades before our climate of contagion began in 2020, most of us now know that deep feeling of isolation.

In this decade, it’s been mixed with fear and an intense need to distance ourselves from our communities. This crisis has impacted each of us in different ways and for some, the disconnect we feel from our friends is most enduring. We all need a friend. Without friends, our risk for depression, anxiety and even heart disease may increase. If today, you continue to feel isolated or avoid socializing with friends, we’ve got a few thoughts that may help.

1. Asses Your Friendships

the number of friends you need is a matter of personal preference. Don’t let anyone tell you how many– you know best. Think quality not quantity. Some of us only need one true friend. Consider how you are feeling about your current friendships. Do you wish you had more? Do you feel energized and happy when you spend time together? Do you have friends with whom to bare your soul without a thought of being judged? Friends who see the best in you and believe in your infinite potential. A friend who stands by your side in darkness and in the light and someone who tells you the truth even when it’s difficult because they want the best for you.

2. Take Action

If you desire more or deeper connections now, make a plan to take action. It’s worth the effort to reach out to old friends. And know it’s never too late to make new friends. Maybe there’s someone from high school or your home town you’ve been thinking about. Sometimes we judge others, even friends, by their actions and we judge ourselves by our intentions. Actions can often be misunderstood. If a friend has done something that upset you, address it rather than disengage. Speak honestly with an open heart. Perhaps you were hurt or angry. Let them know. If you share your feelings openly, their response will tell you a lot about how much they care and may even strengthen your bond. Reconnect with old friends: text, call, take a walk together. Long distance friends count too–being connected, even from afar is good for our well-being.

3. Ask yourself–how do I feel now?

Journal. Did you enjoy connecting with an old friend who you haven’t seen? Did you feel happy? Valued? Do you still yearn to connect with another being? John O’ Donahue writes about the Anam Cara, meaning soul friend. We all deserve “a friend of the soul,” someone to share our innermost thoughts without hesitation and where being together feels like home. Invest your time and energy in relationships that bring you joy. Listen to your instincts and trust your feelings. Avoid superficial friends–you know in your heart who they are.

Spending time with genuine friends sustains and strengthens our heart, mind and soul and nourishes us deeply. May you find your anam cara, soul friend!