Losing a friend, gaining something more
Recently, my phone went cold. No more emails or texts from someone I love. He had to move on. It is right, but I am grieving. Tears, an ache in the heart, pain down to my feet.
I am reading the book We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, a series of remembrances by people who knew her. Mary told one, Laura Sargent, “We must master both the fear and the love of personality.” 1 Laura had been thinking it would be easy to give up the love of all personalities…except for her personal sense of Mary Baker Eddy, whom she called “Mother.” Instead, Mary challenged her not to cling to matter, to a mortal or limited sense of anyone, in any case—including in their relationship.
Didn’t I learn this already when camp was over and I had to leave my favorite counselor? She was so competent and confident. She built her log home in the
woods with her own hands. She taught me how to use a chainsaw and to chink logs. She expertly paddled a canoe and efficiently set up camp in the Canadian Boundary Waters, far from civilization. She sang camp songs with gusto and spilled joy on all.
I adored her, and left my Sorrel boots untied—just like hers. With affection I joked and gave her my own nickname. Her stern face and rebuke stung, but I never forgot it. She explained that her role was counselor, and mine was camper. And that these roles stood on respect, especially in the remote wilderness where an emotionally- charged thought could result in a dangerous life-and-death situation. She demanded clear thinking, not sappiness. I had never before seen how a relationship could be galvanized and strengthened through adherence to responsibility, and how it could be weakened by a love of personality.
And how flimsy that kind of love is.
I realize now that I had become dependent on my cyber friendship for happiness. Instead of wearing twin boots, this friend and I matched word jabs and jokes. When he was witty, I had to be even more so. Being noticed was thrilling and seductive, each text on my phone an intoxicating validation. But somehow that disintegrated into cutting remarks, sliding into something I never intended. The respect and safety we shared in real life became fuzzy online. Then responsibilities demanded separation.
Didn’t Mary share with her household that instead of drawing us closer to those we love, holding on to personality separates us? The false sense “that clings to personality, that wants to grasp it and caress it and thus make something out of nothing” doesn’t put God first, she told these new Christian Scientists. 2 Ultimately, clinging leaves us only with pain, instead of a conviction that we can never be separated from good.
I reach through my own pain to think of Mary’s wise words. I loosen my grasp on my phone. I stop mindlessly caressing personality.
And suddenly I remember that Mary also wrote that “Love is impartial….” 3 So the good that God, Love, is bestowing on my friend is being given to me—and the universe, too!
Mary has told me the truth. I am comforted.Posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Follow responses with the RSS feed
Topics: Friendship, Mary Baker Eddy | Tags: dependency, friends, intensity