The Philia

“One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences. Often secrets are not revealed in words, they lie concealed in the silence between the words or in the depth of what is unsayable between two people.” – John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

The ancient Greek philosophers defined love in three categories: agape, eros, and philia. Agape is defined as the love of God and the intimate friendship developed with God. Eros is a love that is more sexual in nature (often referred to romantic love), and Philia is a love defined by affection and concern for the other, not just family but friends. It is no surprise that love and friendship were always lumped together, and later philosophers then defined friendship as one of the highest forms of love that can exist between two people. It defies romance and sexuality, and forges bonds stronger than blood. The Philia, consists of mutual caring, intimacy, and shared activity.

When it comes to the Philia, there are friends, good friends, and best friends. I’m not one to bestow the title of “friend” to just anyone, but those I do choose to call “friend” it hardly matters thereafter whether they are good friends or best friends. The mere fact that they fulfil all the characteristics of the true philia says it all.

  • If it weren’t for the best friends in life who stick out with you through thick and thin, rain or shine, celebration or mourning, triumph or failure, there would be no meaning, depth, comfort, or joy to life’s milestones.
  • If it weren’t for the best friends in life who stand by me over the years, and see me through the best and the worst moments, I would no longer be whole.
  • If it weren’t for the best friends in life who understand my being, I would not be.
  • If it weren’t for the best friends in life who journey beside me through life’s travails, there would be no direction, orientation, or even a resting station.
  • If it weren’t for the best friends in life who shape the memories, there would be no past to relish or future to look forward to.

Not all of these friends are within hugging reach on a daily basis, but distance does not diminish the intensity or depth of the philia.

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