[continued from yesterday]
This has been the commonest disappointment of my life; that hardening of friendship into mere patronage, that murder of friendship because my friend would not let me see him as he was. I gave him all; he gave me back but my own reflection; himself he hid behind the mirror. I say nothing of false friends or of shallow friends. These are incapable of friendship; and to have found them out, to have fathomed all their possibilities, to have weighed them in the balance and found them wanting, is no disappointment; it is a growth in the knowledge of mankind. Disappointment only comes when one has proved and knows the possibility of friendship and behold! it has frozen in the making.
And yet there have been satisfactions. There have been moments when, as it were, in spite of itself, friendship has broken through the mist and glimmered golden. An old man, a superior of mine, once, in a moment of great trouble, came for refuge to my room and there burst into tears; that was a moment of happy agony, a moment of perfect friendship.
Once, in a crowd of great men and ladies, where I was but a mechanical official, there passed me by a man who had been a schoolfellow, whom I had not seen since school-days, and that was years ago. He saw me, I saw him; not a word passed between us; I have never seen him since; yet that moment was a moment of perfect friendship.
More I will not say by way of illustration, lest friendship itself resent this public avowal.
Yes, friendship, even of the kind that is here meant, is possible in its degree, for the nature of man is beyond fathoming, his capabilities of love are only short of infinite. Still it is only in its degree.
Even from the best of human friends I must not ask more than he can give. For think of all it calls for. It calls for a mind that can understand mind without any need of words. It calls for a heart that can bleed more from sympathy and fellow feeling than from any suffering of its own. It calls for a soul so holy, so humble in its holiness, that it will give of its all, of its worst as well as of its best, uncovered and undisguised into the hands of its friend. It calls for a will that can go all lengths, asking no questions, making no conditions, when the question of friendship demands it....
From The School of Love and Other Essays
by The Most Reverend Alban Goodier, S.J.
Burns, Oates, & Washburn, Ltd. 1918