I wrote a rather waffly post yesterday about friends and friendliness. I ambled around the houses in a fairly lack-lustre way and for that I apologise.
I was, however, left thinking about ministerial life and friends.
I think it is regarded as 'best practice' as a parish priest (or equivalent) to not have specific friends from among the 'flock'. While it may seem an acceptable thing, it has the potential to become divisive - as there is a pastoral power-imbalance, and the danger in the perception of others even if not born out in facts.
I did a mental audit of my friends - in the corporeal sense, not the Facebook sense - and being a natural hermit, have a few but very close life-long friends. I have not been one for clouds of friends of barely-above-acquaintance level, as I like to be close to my friends, and that trust is not easily given by me. It reminded me how far away we all live. The wonderful Mrs Acular is my bezzy mate, and was before we married, and she is the exception. The rest have all migrated through life and work to all ends of the country, or we have - leaving them behind. I recognise that this is common for religious ministers (it might also be that we just frighten off all our friends)
This also explains another emerging thing - the prevalent presence of priests on things like Twitter and Blog-shire. We speak of a community of friends (not in the corporeal sense) in our Tweeting and Bleating, and this is, I think, partly because all our real friends are so far away. It is hard for us to pop down the local for a swift half, without a month of planning. Ours is often a lonely job because of the way we are called to connect in a slight disconnected way. It is not a bad thing, just a cultural and professional-boundaries kind of thing.
It is hard at times though. I'd love it if life meant I could see my closest friends more than annually, or in the case of one, less frequently. The good thing, I guess, is that when we do get back together, the gap is as nothing and it feels as if we only met the last time yesterday.