THE seven-mile stretch of road to the city dump had been paved, but the public library was still accessible only by a sloping gravel road, one block long, that became slick and dangerous in wet weather. I wondered about our community's priorities! Of course, I was grateful for any civic improvement, but the library had tried for twelve years to get its entrance paved, according to the librarian. When she saw my concern, she smiled and asked if she could add my name to her list of ``Friends of the Library.''
I was grateful to be included, but I knew that friendship meant more than adding a name to a list. To me, the Bible sets the tone for the action of friendship. When Moses prayed, the Bible tells us in Exodus, he heard God speak to him ``as a man speaketh unto his friend'' (33:11). And in the New Testament, Christ Jesus referred to his disciples as friends, and assured them that they could act in obedience to God's commands, as he had done, and thereby accomplish the healing works he urged upon his followers.
When we follow the Scriptures and place friendship on the Christly basis of man's relationship to God, divine Love, our ties with one another are grounded on a more dependable foundation. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, writes in her Miscellaneous Writings, ``Pure humanity, friendship, home, the interchange of love, bring to earth a foretaste of heaven.'' She adds in the next paragraph, ``The Christian Scientist loves man more because he loves God most'' (p. 100). When friendship begins with God, it shows up in human experience as the active influence of divine Love in individual lives.
The influence of God in human life might be called grace. And surely friendship founded on the strength and permanency of spiritual love represents the touch of God's grace in our lives. Such friendship is not passive or indifferent. It actively makes a difference in one's life. True friendship is ever available, always ready to help, and has the effect of uplifting and comforting. Because its source is unconditional divine Love, it naturally excludes such ungodly traits as temperamental self-centeredness, destructive tendencies, and exclusivity. Even when its action is expressed in the wisdom to know when to stand quietly ready, showing in unobtrusive ways the dependable support someone may need, it is still active, for it is ever ready to help.
As a ``Friend of the Library,'' my first action was to pray and listen for God's guidance and inspiration. Soon it occurred to me to make telephone calls to two community officials. Although I was not personally acquainted with either of them, our conversations were friendly and constructive. My own understanding of the action of friendship based on spiritual wisdom had matured considerably through prayer. And any criticism and impatience had dissolved. The officials responded warmly, promised to look into the matter. Within the week the road to the library was paved.
When friendship is founded on the universal, healing love of God, it initiates action that shows in practical ways that God is a present and powerful help. Such friendship is expressed individually, but its action can touch the lives of many. There is no limit to the good that can be accomplished when we are willing to be friends of mankind and base our friendship on the healing action of God and His Christ.