“The friend is the key and I am the lock”

“The friend is the key and I am the lock”
Thought for the Day

We hope you have been enjoying Dan's "Thought for the Day" over the past week giving you a moment for reflection amidst our current situation. Today Dan considers friendship.

The friend is the key and I am the lock - Rumi

Much of the most ancient discovered literature attests to the vital importance of friendship to human life, given it’s archetypal pull upon our lives. It is why, as a psychotherapist, I always hold curiosity about the friendships maintained or lost by clients. Quite literally, the loss of a good friend can lead to an aching absence and a feeling of sickness (of the soul).

Pottery wheel and pots

A friendship doesn’t necessarily require compatibility and some of the richest connections are formed despite vast differences in character, politics and lifestyles. The Tao Te Ching illustrates this truth (a universal truth) poetically using the elemental image of the clay pot; “It is precisely where there’s no substance, that we find the usefulness of clay pots”. If we imagine our deepest friendships to be like clay pots, a container non-fussed with shape nor decoration, we might find the usefulness of friendship to be in a simple space that is shaped towards sensitive intimacy. The capacity for friendships to hold secrets and to receive another’s thoughts and feelings without a strong urge for interpretation, speak of the profoundly containing function of friendship. Friends can be consoled and strengthened by being hopeless together without the need for specific outcomes. We need each other.

It isn’t so easy in the world of social media and modern culture to cultivate true friendships. Life is busy and holds various anxieties, coronavirus linked or otherwise. But perhaps also the archetypal values that at one time nourished and sustained friendships have somewhat waned. It is not easy to practice spiritual intimacy at a physical distance. In our frenetic existence, with its oft-cultural emphasis on individuality and absence of meaningful community, we are somewhat like spiritual refugees adrift in a mass of competitive culture and shallow communication. But in our stillness we retain the profoundly human capacity for care, containment and love of another. I hold dear at times like these to those special, spiritual friendships that, like clay pots, offer reliable depth of care and containment to ‘hold’ the mixture of our inner lives. I enjoy too, moulding myself around the preoccupations and honest expressions of those that trust my ‘space’.

Who might you need to call upon right now? Who is in need of your ‘space’?


The thought for the day is a short reflective writing relevant to the art of suffering well (enough) in difficult times, for parents and staff of Alice Smith. If it offers comfort amidst adversity, read the text and call it to mind when needed(even if just a short phrase from the larger text), allowing it to soak into the marrow of your bones and merge with your breath. Remember, we are all in this together…

Take good care, Dan

Author: Dan Lawrence, Primary Counsellor, The Alice Smith School