Friendships are as crucial for a well-balanced, healthy, happy life as food is for sustaining life. Alan Loy McGinnis’ The Friendship Factor highlights the crucial role friends play in our overall health. He suggests that if everyone had at least one close friend, we would see a considerable drop in assorted mental health challenges. Friendships are essential to feeling satisfied with life. Friends provide company, consolation, encouragement, and even healthy challenges at times.
The first friend I can remember was Karl. He was my age. His sister was the age of my younger brother. Though we only lived in that community for a year or so, I vividly remember some of the many adventures the four of us shared as pre-school-age children. We lived in a rural area and were relatively free to roam the wide open spaces between our adjoining yards.
Friends for Ever
There are those special people who come into our lives and become a permanent part of them. Distance may separate us, but the bond survives. It may be years between times when we can be together in person, but when we do meet up again, it often seems like it’s been a few days rather than a few years.
Mary Brewster, Matriarch of the Mayflower, had such a friend in Bridget Robinson. Bridget’s husband, the Reverend John Robinson was the designated pastor of the English Separatist community when they relocated from Amsterdam to Leyden. Another pastor had been their official pastor, but after they fled from England to the Lowlands, that pastor stayed in Amsterdam. Robinson, along with future Governor William Bradford, and Mary’s husband, Elder William Brewster, decided to move their community to Leyden. The community lived there from 1608 until some of the group sailed for the New (to them) World in 1620. During those years, Mary and Bridget became as close as sisters.
Finding a Way
When the faith community decided to establish a place of their own across the Atlantic, they also decided that the Brewsters would sail with their two younger sons, Love and Wrestling. The Robinsons would stay behind, along with Jonathan, Patience, and Fear, the Brewster older children. Bridget and Mary had to bid one another farewell; hoping they would eventually meet again when more of the Separatists joined them in the new Plimoth Plantation.
Here’s an excerpt from the last afternoon Mary Brewster and Bridget Robinson spent together before the Mayflower sailed.
I wanted my last afternoon with Bridget to be a happy one. I took Love and Wrestling with me, along with more things for Patience and Fear, and went to the Robinsons. I was overcome with gratefulness that Bridget would watch over Patience and Fear, but equally distraught that they needed a new home.
Love and Wrestling entered the Robinsons ahead of me and bounded up the stairs. I had to stop midway to catch my breath, and also to collect my thoughts and prepare myself for this final afternoon together. I dreaded saying farewell to her.
“Please, do not talk of the trip,” I begged. “Let us pretend this is like any other afternoon when we pass the time in one another’s company.”
“I agree that is the best plan, but I do have something for you, so you will not forget me.”
“I will never, ever forget you.”
Bridget left and quickly returned with a locket on a delicate chain. “My father gave this to my mother many years ago. I have treasured it, and now I want you to have it.”
My throat grew thick, my tongue seemed stuck and incapable of moving. I reached out to touch it. “I don’t think I should accept a treasure that belongs to your family,” I finally managed to say.
“That is precisely why I want you to have it. You have been as family to me. And now your daughters live with me as though they were my own kin. Please accept this.”
She took my hand and pressed the locket into my palm, curling my fingers around it. I put my clenched fist against my breast and murmured, “Thank you. I will treasure it always.”
To Be Continued
More of the story about the friendship between Bridget Robinson and Mary Brewster is told in the book coming out this spring: Mary Brewster’s Love Life. It should be out in March. I’m filling my days doing final edits and tending to other publishing details.
Other times, I’m likely out making new friends or phone calls to keep up with old friends. I learned this song in Girl Scouts a very long time ago.
Make new friends,
But keep the old.
One is silver,
And the other, gold.
A circle’s round
It has no end
That’s how long
I’m gonna be your friend.
In preparing this article, I learned a bit about the history of “Make new friends.” There are several verses to it, with various lyrics, but the concept is the same. Some friendships are life long; some for a season of life; and some brand new. All add incredible value to our lives. I’m glad I can count you as a friend. I trust you have many other people in your life that you consider a friend.
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Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures is available wherever books are sold in paperback, eBook, and audio.
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