Those unforgettable moments of communion with friends: why friendship is good for our soul

Those unforgettable moments of communion with friends: why friendship is good for our soul || raeritchie.com

On Friday I showed up at a friend’s house for lunch.

I knew I was seeing her between meetings she had and was told we’d be eating soup.  I expected to rock up to a tin of Heinz and a few slice of brown bread, but on arrival I was greeted by a table fully decked out for a Christmas celebration, even though there were only two place settings.

We had a festive themed table cloth and party crackers as well as a table laden with homemade soup, crusty bread, croutons, a cheese board, salad and three different desserts.

Reader, I felt thoroughly spoiled.

Topped with paper hats, we had a merry time together, sharing a meal and heartfelt thoughts.

As I left, further blessed with a glass tree decoration that she had forged herself, I knew we had taken communion together.

You don’t need bread and wine to share communion with someone. 

I don’t think you need to view the act of communion necessarily in a religious way, although obviously it comes heavily laden with Christian associations.  At its heart, the act centred on Jesus and his closest mates sharing a meal between them.

Isn’t that something we all know can be a special occasion, one that seems to take on emotional significance beyond the actual act of eating and drinking?

On Saturday afternoon I met another friend.

I travelled up to Manchester to see her and we spent several hours in heavy duty conversation, oblivious to the world around us as we talked and drank and then ate, sharing a bowl of olives before tucking into hefty burgers with like-your-mum-made fries (if you’re ever in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, I highly recommend Evelyn’s Café Bar).

We parted hoarse voice and almost missing my train, shouting our ‘I love yous’ across the station concourse as I skidded to get to through the barrier in time.

After these joyous moments of sharing deeply with friends I was gutted to miss another Christmas lunch planned for Sunday.

A mix up with my pills on Friday was playing havoc with my emotions, meaning nothing for it but sitting on the sofa all afternoon sleeping and crying.

I was especially sad to not have time with these girlfriends as they were the bunch who had supported me so stoically during the darkest days of my year, providing listening ears and practical help – the kind of friends who’d come round to see you but make you sit down while they got on with the coffee making.

These same friends first alerted to the possibility of communion many years ago, when we sat around post-meal sharing wine and sharing stories, telling our truths as we never had before.

Our relationships were transformed, never to be the same again.

Surely that is that purpose of communion, a transformative experience that changes us?

Friendships are important because they help to remind you of who you are, whether at your best, your worst or simply your core.

Unlike familial or romantic relationships, there aren’t rites of passage or dedicated days where we can honour and celebrate our platonic ties.  This seems a shame, an oversight somehow, as if they are not as important in our lives as relatives by blood or marriage.

Yet we are able to mark the significance of friendships over and over again if only we are mindful of what’s happening around us.

We can share communion, a treasured bond, a life-affirming moment with them whenever we sit down and talk, preferably with food and drink on the table between us too.

We can experience the most spectacular thread of connection even if we were only expecting to have half a tin of reheated soup.

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