As I write this (12th January), I see that in the church’s calendar today we commemorate Aelred of Hexham, Abbot of Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire, who died in 1167. Aelred is chiefly noted for his writing on friendship; the value of a deep relationship between two people. Friendship, as a virtue, has been elevated above love; and there is something special about a bond that draws two people together, so they feel that they gain from being in each other’s company. This of course can have sexual aspects; their have been attempts to portray Aelred’s attraction to his closest friends as such, but these seem to me to be misguided. Whatever Aelred’s sexuality, he celebrates the way two people gain strength and can even find a new, mutual identity as they celebrate each other’s company. As a person not in a relationship, I am especially dependant on those who offer me friendship and that carries me in good and bad times. Aelred saw in our human relationships a model of what he considered to be the ultimate friendship; that between Christ (or God) and the individual. As a Christian, I agree with this, but even those who do not call themselves Christians can celebrate the joys of friendship.