Toward the end of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a powerful novel about slavery and its aftermath, one of the characters reflects on the impact one woman had on his life: “She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.”
We all long to have “a friend of my mind.” Such friends are agents of healing and wholeness, people who mend our lives by gathering the tattered pieces of our selves and quilting them into a redemptive fabric. Such friends are a holy gift.
These friends are all the more important because there are others who play an opposite role in our lives. Some people carve us into pieces, or take the pieces that we are and break us into even smaller fragments. These people haunt us and make it difficult for us to imagine that we’ll ever be whole, or manage to put the pieces into a right order.