Today the church observes Aelred, Abbot of Rievaulx and Good Friend.
Born in the 12th Century, Aelred was the son and grandson of Saxon priests. He was sent to work in the home of King David of Scotland at a young age, and when he entered adulthood experienced some deep inner struggle of an unknown nature.
All we know is that he was conflicted.
To help discern his angst, he entered a Cistercian Order at Rievaulx and soon gained a reputation as kind, wise, and a good friend to all.
His greatest mark left on the world was his capacity for profound sympathy, and he went on to write Spiritual Friendship, a reflection on the goodness of having and being a true friend in life.
The good Abbot was known to create deep, meaningful friendships, and hold these up as the pinnacle of godly relationship.
“A friend praying to Christ on behalf of his friend, and for his friend’s sake desiring to be heard by Christ, directs his attention with love and longing to Christ; then it sometimes happens that quickly and imperceptibly, the one love passes over into the other, and coming as it were, into close contact with the sweetness of Christ himself, the friend begins to taste his sweetness and to experience his charm.”-Spiritual Friendship
St. Aelred is a reminder to me, and should be for everyone, that sometimes the best thing you can be in this world is a good friend.
After all, if the only thing anyone remembered us for is our deep capacity for sympathy and friendship, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world…
Be a good friend today.