There is a defining moment in the film Edie when Edie is in her local café eating a quiet chip supper. She asks her friend behind the counter if it’s too late for a few more chips, he replies, ‘It’s never too late for you Edie.’ And at that moment we see Edie begin to change. To wake up. To come back to life. It’s all there in the gradual change of her face, in the sparkle returning to her eyes, in the slowly dawning fresh vision in her gaze.
Rather than move into a home for older folk Edie decides to climb a mountain. As you do! Of course the ‘mountain’ is as much about her past, present and future, as it is about a mahoosive pile of dirt and rocks in Scotland. Edie was once a wild child, and the challenge will in some ways waken that within her again. But she cannot do this alone, and in enlisting the paid help of young Jonny she embarks on a reluctant, grumpy, working relationship that gradually becomes a close, caring, life-shaping friendship.
Friendship is powerful. ‘No man is an island,’ John Donne once wrote. Everyone is a part of a continent. But we may too often find ourselves alone, stuck out in an ocean, barely jutting our heads above the water. So when friends come our way they may do everything from lifting our spirits to changing our lives for a while. Or for ever. Certainly Edie and Jonny change the course of each other’s lives quite unexpectedly. I am a bit of a loner so don’t always friend friendships easy, but I’m grateful to those who have taken time and energy to befriend me over the years. There are many friendships in the Bible. But one surprising pairing is surely that of Barnabas and Paul. When others were scowling about Paul’s unlikely conversion, Barnabas took a chance and drew alongside the new believer. (Have a look at Acts 9 vv 26-28.) He spoke up for him, trusted that he was genuine and began to show him the ropes. He could surely have never known that his kindness to Paul would result in a book full of world-transforming letters. Letters which continue to shape and guide billions of lives to this day. Barnabas was the quiet encouraging friend who introduced the trail-blazing Paul to the rest of us. Friendship is powerful. From a smile, to a pat on the back, to a life laid down for another.