The Dancing Puritan

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Planning and Habit: Keys to Friendship

C.S. Lewis lamented the fact that many of the post-war undergraduates rarely took long country walks, which he himself had felt to be such an important part of his development. Gone too were the small coteries and cliques of friends which had mattered so much to his generation (Humphrey Carpenter).

I wonder what Lewis would think of us now? The world-wide-web has replaced, for too many folks, the world-wide-theatre of nature that God gave for our stewardship and enjoyment. The cell-phone has our generation looking down, not to examine flowers or bugs, but rather to check messages from both real and virtual friends.

There simply is not time for walks with friends in the country, the city or anywhere else for that matter. 

The life of our Lord was spent walking. Walking the way Christ walked is to follow, by faith, his character and objectives. It does not demand that we dress, eat and walk, (instead of drive), as Jesus did. However, the actual walking of Jesus is instructive. Jesus was up in the mountains and down in valleys. He spoke of flowers and birds. He walked by the sea and was driven to the wilderness. As he walked he poured his life into his disciples. He enjoyed the world that his Father through him had created. Much of his time was spent walking with his friends.

It is not enough to lament, with C.S. Lewis, the lack of friendships. However, his complaints are worth considering. He was concerned that the young generation was driven by a crowd mentality. He said, Caucus has replaced friendship

One of the reasons that I have warmed up to C.S. Lewis is the emphasis that he placed on friendship. The example of Lewis is encouraging. That example is seen in planning and habit, which are keys to a revival of friendship in our culture.

Lewis probably did not schedule in a calendar his visits with friends. However, he knew that on Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings that he would be with the Inklings. This was their plan and this was their habit. Friendship was integral to who Lewis was as a man. Gathering with friends was a non-negotiable. The gatherings were not viewed as a burden that they had not the time to bear. I think that the time that they spent together was an investment that they could not afford to neglect.

Lewis, Tolkien, Charles Williams and the rest were prolific. Hours spent with friends each week did not hinder their work--it enhanced it. Their meetings encouraged work, examined work and helped to create joy in their work. Laughter and loud discussion, debate and analysis gave delight to their work.

I am not sure that we can afford not to invest in friendship. Could it be that we would be more fruitful, more creative, more energized for our work if we worked more at our friendships?  Would not spice be added to our daily duties if there were time afforded for friendship?  

How will friendship happen?  Planning and habit will lead the way. All work and no play indeed makes for a dull life, dull work and dullness in creativity. The right kind of play, with friends, might change the way and the results of our work.  

Quotes above from The Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter.