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Friends Are God’s Way of Taking Care of Us

May 21, 2011

A chance conversation this week got me thinking about friendship.  We are by nature social beings; God created us that way.  Consequently we have an innate compelling desire for friendship.   It is how we satisfy our inherent instinct for self-expression.  Friendship is not just a social benefit; it is vital for our survival.  The need for fellowship is as deep as the need of food.

Loneliness is not just an emotion.  It is a biological process and the effects of feeling lonely can take a physical toll.  Researchers have found that loneliness is a unique health-risk factor in its own right, disrupting cellular processes within the body, interfering with the immune system, and increasing the risk of hypertension and lower levels of cognitive function.  Interestingly, the problem is not so much being alone as it is feeling alone.

What we need, and what many of us are hurting for, is face-to-face time with people we feel comfortable with, people we trust, people with whom we can let our hair down and be ourselves.  As families become smaller, more affluent, more mobile and consequently dispersed, friendships have taken on far less permanence.  The high incidence of family breakdown and its repercussive social devastation further exacerbates the problem.

Technology has allowed our work to be pervasive, following us home, robbing us of personal time, and even trespassing upon our vacations.  Add to this the busyness that permeates modern life and there is little time or opportunity left to cultivate real friendships.  It is my observation that in the last several years, seeking solace from the complications and insanity that define their lives, more and more people have withdrawn into seclusive pursuits.

For many, Facebook friends have become a pitiable substitute for real relationships.  It is my personal opinion that social media have cheapened the meaning of friendship.  People have come to refer to those they know almost nothing about and with whom they share only the most superficial communication as friends.  I suspect that some of these “friends” are not even real, but merely cyberspace personae, avatars if you will, people recreating themselves out of their fear of others knowing who they really are.  I am not saying that social media does not have its place.  I am only saying that when Facebook friends supplant face-to-face friendships, something is seriously amiss.

To capsulize my personal take on friendship I have taken the liberty of melding two quotes of uncertain origin, one of which I have used before in this blog, in what to me seems a natural marriage.

There is an exquisite melody in every heart.  If we listen closely, we can hear each other’s song.  Friends know the song in your heart and respond with beautiful harmony.  They learn your heart-song so well they can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.

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Several people have asked about the weather here.  Presently it is very consistent from day to day, with daytime temperatures hovering around 93°F. (34°C.) dropping to about 79°F. (26°C.) at night.  The relative humidity is around 66% making it feel like 100°F. (38°C.) Winds are usually light.  Skies are clear with some cloud over the ocean.  Haze is normal.  The water temperature of the Caribbean is 83°F. (28°C.)  The sun rises at about 5:15 AM and sets at 6:15 PM.  Light begins to show before 4:00 AM; within 15 minutes of sunset it is dark.   The normal weather pattern is for rain during April and May, but that has not happened this year; it is very dry.  Hurricane season is fast approaching and runs from June to November.

Yonese brought me some leathery-looking yellow fruit from the market.  I didn’t recognize it at all but she told me it was for juice.  She called it grenad, but I couldn’t find that word in my Creole dictionary. She thinned the juice with water and added raw sugar; the result was absolutely ambrosial.  I later found out from Chris that they were passion fruit.   That will be on my market list on a regular basis.

While she worked we talked.  I learned a lot about her and told her quite a bit about myself and my family.  I asked her to get me some goat and some crayfish, but was having difficulty getting her to understand my requests.  So I went to Google translator and was able to make myself clear.  I find this an excellent resource and whenever we ran into difficulty I would consult it.  It’s not the answer to learning Creole but it will certainly help as I learn.  The biggest advantage for me is that it teaches me grammar, putting the words in the correct order.  I can type in a sentence, see how it translates, then change it a bit to see how the word order changes.  Since Creole is phonetic I am able to read it quite well, and my pronunciation is good, but I do not necessarily understand what I am reading.  The two-letter indicator words that are inserted to denote verb tense, the negative and possession throw me.  Worse are Creole’s many contractions.

With Olivia, our expectant mother, Leslie, is safely ensconced in her parents’ home in Armstrong and both are enjoying being in Canada.  In her absence I have taken on some of her responsibilities.  With a bit of e-mail coaching I am learning some of the finer intricacies of our bookkeeping and filing systems.  I managed to do payroll yesterday pretty much on my own.  I am finally starting to be able to count money in Haitian dollars without constantly doing mental calculations.

Chris asked to meet with me later in the day and inquired as to how I was doing personally and how I was seeing my role with Clean Water taking shape.  I really appreciate his interest in checking in from time to time to see how I am feeling.  I explained my sense of isolation, which I recognize is largely out of not being able to speak Creole, and will subside as I learn.  He reemphasized that strengthening my language skills is to be my primary focus right now.  He asked if I would be comfortable running errands to Port-au-Prince and was pleased that I would be providing I have a navigator.  He also indicated that I would likely be going out with the installation crew this week.

To return to my opening theme, Chris asked if I wanted to invite Barb to come for supper tonight.  He said he thought I needed a friend my own age.  Perhaps he is right.   No, really there is no perhaps.

So I will prepare supper for her tonight.  Deeply rooted in my heritage, that has long been one of the ways I show people I care for them.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Geri permalink
    May 25, 2011 4:41 am

    A wonderful idea Barry.. have fun!

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