Bishop David Oakley, Bishop of Northampton, appeared on BBC Radio 2’s Pause For Thought on Wednesday 22 September and was invited to reflect on World Gratitude Day, Tuesday 21 September.
Yesterday, Tuesday 21 September, we celebrated World Gratitude Day. Being grateful is not always easy. We can get caught up with the daily tasks and forget to find time to appreciate others, including our closest friends. A busy life can become the enemy of gratitude.
Someone once said that ‘change is now the only constant’. And we may say, that life is changing too fast. Some may find constant change exhilarating. Others may become casualties, finding change demanding and confusing. I don’t know about you, but I crave for something I can rely upon. And for me I rejoice in my friendships. I am blessed to have a few very close friends. I give thanks for them all.
Today, I have a particular friend in mind. I have known this person for over three decades now. Our long-standing friendship is a comfortable anchor to me. This is a friendship which has stood the test of time. I came to see how important this friend was to me after some very challenging eye surgery. I didn’t know whether I would be able to see again. People were very kind and concerned for me. But my friend went the extra mile. I had to lie still. I was only able to move for ten minutes in every hour. After a week, as I was beginning to give in to despair, something remarkable happened. It was tea-time and without any forewarning, my friend bundled me into the car and took me home. This was all within the allowed ten minutes. Then it was back to the lying down routine. Being somewhere else for a few hours was an unbelievable tonic. My friend knew it would be. Our friendship has weathered a few storms over the years. Sometimes we don’t always agree on things. Lots of other people tell me what I should be saying and doing, and I do listen to them. But my dear friend is someone different. This friend speaks from personal knowledge of me. And that’s why I want to listen to my friends and treasure what they share with me.
For me, friendship demands a real humility. I’ve found that a lasting friendship requires a certain sacrifice and detachment from selfishness. And today, I give thanks for my friend.