Thursday, May 29, 2014

Remembering A Friend

It was just over a year ago that the Dalai Lama was in Louisville and I was able to attend one of his public talks.  It was an ecumenical gathering that was part of the annual Festival of Faiths celebration.  A friend and former teacher of mine shared the stage with the Dalai Lama as the Christian representative.  There were also representatives of other major faiths and religions.  This event was one of the last activities I did with my dear friend, Fr. Dennis.  The weekend after the Dalai Lama’s appearance my son was ordained a priest.  Dennis was able to take part in the ordination ceremony and along with the other priests who participated he was able to lay his hands on my son and bless him.  The blessing of fellow priests is a traditional part of the ordination ceremony.  A month later Dennis died very unexpectedly and my son was able to concelebrate his funeral mass along with the Archbishop of Louisville.  Dennis is now buried at the Abbey of Gethsemani, a monastery I have written about many times over the years.  In the course of my life many people have died and I’ve certainly attended my share of funerals.  I must admit, however, that none were as difficult for me as the passing of my friend, Dennis.  He was a brother, a friend, and a mentor.  After he retired from active ministry and moved into a house near the monastery we got together about once a month for an entire day.  We did this for approximately eight years.  I miss Dennis and the days we spent together very much.  He was one of few people I have ever been completely open with in regard to my personal thoughts and feelings.  I have written many “daily thoughts” over the years but they were all somewhat guarded and not totally revealing in terms of my true feelings.  Dennis was someone with whom I could be completely honest without fear of judgment.  He also felt the same way about me.  We were very close and there were no secrets.  If we are lucky we are blessed with one or two real friends in our lives.  In the world of Facebook and other social media, the meaning of friendship has been sorely distorted.  If you have real friends in your life you should cherish them.  Trust me when I say that if you lose them you will surely feel the pain.  I think many people feel misunderstood by most of the people in their lives.  If you have a friend that not only understands you, but who also accepts you without judgment, you have a true friend.  The one year anniversary of Dennis’s death is still about a month away but I think I will make a trip out to the monastery that day and visit with him.  We still have lots to talk about.       

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