The twelfth-century Cistercian monk Aelred of Rievaulx wrote a small work that has become a classic, Spiritual Friendship. It would be easy to think that the word spiritual in the title refers to the quality of the friendship, spiritual friendships being the highest ones, something hard to attain. But Aelred is careful to say that what makes a friendship spiritual is not its lofty height so much as its origin and direction. Spiritual friendship, Aelred says, begins in God, continues in God, and is perfected in God. It’s a road or a way, not a static condition. So when you imagine yourself as a sturdy shelter for a friend, or when you take shelter in the friendship of another, don’t worry if your shelter is not yet perfect. You are building it as you go.
—Excerpted from 2017: A Book of Grace-Filled Days by Amy Andrews