Baltasar Gracian wrote: "True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island... to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing." Life without friends is like life on a desert island - both barren and isolated! It is empty - almost as though it were depleted and fruitless. To go through life without the discovery of a close friend is to walk without legs! It is possible to get through life, but the journey is so much tougher!
A true friend loves regardless of the situation, and a real brother exists to share the tough times. (Proverbs 17:17 VOICE)
What does an island symbolize to you? The first thing which comes to mind is a body of land surrounded by water on all sides. It may be kind of lush in appearance, as there is much greenery upon that island, surrounded by some beaches. Did you know there are really about three ways islands are formed? As I began to look at the ways they form, I kind of saw some illustrations we might all learn a little from:
- When rising water surrounds a body of land and leaves no other pathway to that land again except through the water which now surrounds it, an island is said to have formed. In terms of relationship, "islands" happen when we allow things to build up which separate us from the once so easily traveled "connection" between us. The connection still exists, it is just under a whole lot of stuff which makes it appear there is no connection any longer. The waters around the island don't mean there is no connection to the mainland - it just means that connection has been interrupted by the water! What we might need to do is build a bridge! In relationship, we do a whole lot of bridge-building, don't we? It would be nice if the need for bridges never existed, but in reality, there are just some things in life which cause the connection to be less than apparent. The bridge actually helps us restore the connection and remember the benefits of that connectedness!
- When volcanoes begin to spew their molten lava to the surface, coming into contact with that which makes them hard (water and air), islands can form. This is a slower process, where the layers form until the volcanoes byproduct (lava) rises above the level of the water. Lava is a "hot" substance which hardens in the presence of a "colder" substance (water and air). In relationships, there are times when we think the best thing to do when tempers run "hot" is throw cold water on them! We calm down the anger with whatever it takes to diffuse the erupting force - not realizing all we are doing is allowing a hardened crust to form. Do this often enough and you will have enough "crust" to form that island of isolation which is hard, barren, and fruitless!
- When creatures in the sea known as "polyps" form hard shell-like limestone covering in order to survive, it adds to the surface of the ocean floor in slowly multiplying layers. These "coral-like" creatures don't know any better - it is their defensive mechanism to protect themselves from things they think will harm them. They protect the "softness" of their bodies by building limestone walls! In relationship, we often deal with the "softness" of our emotions and heart by building walls whenever we think we need to protect ourselves from someone else in that relationship. Those polyps have to live in a big sea - there are a lot of things which could harm them. To provide the best protection, they live in colonies - huddling together. We often do the same thing when we feel threatened, or under attack in relationship. We huddle into small groups with others who also feel the threat in their own lives. In time, we learn if we will build some kind of wall between us and whatever threatens us, we will be "safer" than just a blob of raw emotions floating in the sea of relationships! This hardness builds up again and again until we find ourselves "covered", but isolated with no one other than people of "like emotional distress".
Islands might not be as beautiful as they first look - because understanding how they formed in the first place gives us insight into just how barren, disconnected, and isolated they may be! We need one another, but the work of friendship is difficult - no doubt about it! We might see the circumstance surrounding us as too far a span to reach, with no sign of connectedness any longer - but it is there. We might only see the hardness and walls, but underneath is a sign of life - we may just have to look a little deeper. We might have found companions who do little more than reinforce our misery and loneliness, but are they really helping us to grow, or just isolating us further from all other signs of life? Just asking!