“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind,
“Pooh!” he whispered.
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
In a life, if we are well-blessed we will experience true friendship. I know I have been blessed. Without friendship the journey would be bleak, it would be hard and lonely.
There are many kinds of friendship and they all have value. Some friends are pretty much a constant, they are right at the centre of your life, you can’t imagine being without them, and you don’t want to. There are friends you don’t see so much, often because they live far away, yet the deep bonds of shared experience and love keep you together, you know they are friends forever. And then there are friends that come into your life for a while and go. Sometimes they go forever, sometimes they re-emerge again and again, like characters in a novel, there just when you least expect them, and you realize how precious they are.
In Chartres Cathedral in Northern France there is a windy pathway or labyrinth set into the floor stones in the nave. People have been walking the labyrinth for a thousand years. It is a way of thinking and praying about your life, your journey. In the movement of your body, in thinking about what it means to put one foot in front of the other and journey on, spiritually, emotionally, as well as physically, something happens.
I haven’t been to Chartres Cathedral, but I have walked a similar labyrinth and was overwhelmed by how powerful it was. It was interesting too, to watch others walk the labyrinth. From the side lines they looked foolish, milling around, wandering in circles, following the path which twists this way and that.
It’s not a maze, there is a route from beginning to end, but there are times when the path turns back on itself, and people seem to be making the same journey again. Now and again people find themselves walking alongside another for a while. Then their paths diverge and they are gone. Sometimes their paths never cross again, but every so often the other returns again and again as a travelling companion.
I hope each of us can conjure up in our minds the faces of those who have walked with us in our lives. Some of them we see every day, perhaps we might even take them for granted because they are part of the furniture of our lives. Some are no longer with us, and the sadness and sense of loss that brings can sometimes overwhelm us.
In this season of remembrance may each of us give thanks for the ones who walk with us, those who have gone before us but whose presence is still a real and living part of our journey, as well as the companions of our lives who make life richer and more lovely.
And let us remember too, the one who promised us: ‘I am with you always – to the end of the world’ Deb Smith