Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

October 8, 2006


Good friends are like something that money cannot buy


      This week I had lunch with three friends who mean the world to me. Our visit consumed almost three hours. We talked and laughed until my jars were sore. The manager of the restaurant was probably glad to see us leave.

          None of us had an agenda. I would be hard pressed to remember all that we talked about. We brought each other up to date on our families and some of the issues we are facing these days.

          We talked about the good old days when we worked together – about our failures and successes. We remembered some of our hurts but mostly we focused on the good times we had shared. Each of us took turns telling about our children and how they are doing. We talked about living and dying, but not much about politics or football.

          At one point the manager walked over to our table to ask if we were pleased with the food and the service. We engaged him in conversation for several minutes, discovering that he was from New Jersey. We chatted about southern traditions like the custom of serving sweet tea and offering cornbread with a vegetable plate.

We joked with him about how he must have felt when he looked at our table and saw four men holding hands as we prayed. He admitted that he was not accustomed to seeing people offer prayer before meals in restaurants.

Laughing, he recalled the first time as a manager he had seen two people with their heads bowed at their table. He thought they were looking at their food so he walked over and asked if something was wrong, only to discover they were praying.

Our mealtime passed so quickly that I hardly noticed my watch. We promised to get together again without setting a date.

As I drove away I began to reflect on the experience. Why had this been such an enjoyable time? Why is that good friends are like something that money cannot buy? I think I know.

Simply put, we like each other. We enjoy being together – to affirm and encourage one another. We are not embarrassed to admit to each other, without saying the words, “Your friendship is very precious to me.” Though “precious” may not seem very masculine, it captures the meaning of what I am trying to express.

Good friends can help us test our ideas. Even the Lone Ranger needed Tonto by his side. None of us can function effectively in solitary confinement. When we are willing to ask them, good friends can help us make

course corrections in our thinking and behavior. True friends will tell us the truth, even disagree with us, because they want the best for us. We can accept their correction because we respect them and value their judgment,

          Even the wisest among us need mentors and not just early in life but all along the journey. One man spoke volumes when he said, “A man is a fool who has no mentor but himself.”

          Four men – laughing, sharing, caring, and enjoying the fellowship of a table. It may not seem like much but it meant a lot to me.  This time there was no crying. Next time there may be a few tears shed – and that will be alright too. Sometimes men need to cry.

          Actually the idea of four men enjoying companionship is nothing new. A long time ago a certain man did a lot of good work in the company of three close friends. I imagine many nights he went to sleep thinking how good it was to have them by his side. Their names, you remember, were Peter, James, and John.  + + + +