Friendship is a sheltering tree
23rd September 2019
This is a quotation from a poem by the Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge called ‘Youth and age’, in which he addresses the sadness of the inevitable passage of time. It refers to how friends can look after us in times of hardship but in this context, may also mean they can conceal from us the ageing process!
Near the beginning of a new school year we do well to consider the nature of friendship. Uppermost in the minds of the girls is ‘who will be my friend?’ and parents too are anxious that their daughters make strong supportive friendships. Of course some of us appear more adept at making friendships than others and can ratchet up a good number of ‘likes’ when posting on social media. However real friends, the sort that can act like a sheltering tree during a rainstorm, require real commitment and nurturing in order to flourish. Friends of this type are likely to number fewer that we can count on one hand and should be distinguished from friendships of utility or friendships of pleasure as defined by the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Such friendships have their place but once the usefulness or pleasure of the friendship fades, it will not survive. In contrast true and lasting friendship is about accepting a person for who they are and being alongside them throughout the journey of life. Friendship like all virtues is something that can be learned through observation and practice. This means both identifying the features of strong friendship in others and practising them in our own lives. The focus should be on how we can be a good friend and then surely friendships will come our way.