Odes to Friendship

Even in this media-saturated world of ours, real, authentic friendships still matter, and I would argue, matter more than ever. While some may try to fill the need for friendship by having lots of acquaintances or followers, deep friendships are irreplaceable, and they need to be nourished over a long period of time to flourish and last. As always, quality trumps quantity. Anyone who can honestly say that he or she has two to three authentic friends is already very blessed. To nourish friendships, we have to “go the distance”, and look beyond our own interests. As the great American philosopher, writer and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”

To celebrate old-fashioned friendships, I like to share a poem and a song, The poem is simply entitled, “Ode to Friendship”; the song is a folksy piece written and sung by the late Kate Wold who died in 1986 at the age of just 44. Despite her short career, Wolf wrote over 200 songs, and “Give Yourself to Love” – the song I’m about to share – is without doubt, the most well-loved. It is a gentle tune about conquering fear of intimacy and opening up our hearts to those who matter.


Come, let us gather –
let hearts on fire come
in their embers, let hearts on ice
come in their chill, let also the
hearts that need holding come,
and pour their sorrows on willing
shoulders. Let us not be afraid
to hold each other in the thrall
of bonding. Let empathy and
wisdom flow like wine. Let no one
leave unchanged. Let whoever is hurt
say he is comforted. Let whoever is jaded
leave ringing like a bell.

~ Wallace Fong, March 2023

And here’s the first verse and chorus of Give Yourself to Love (1983). Lyrics and music by Kate Wolf.

Kind friends all gathered ’round
There’s something I would say
That what brings us together here has blessed us all today
Love has made a circle that holds us all inside;
Where strangers are as family, loneliness can’t hide.

You must give yourself to love
If love is what you’re after
Open up your heart to the tears and laughter
And give yourself to love.

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