“In human life nothing holier can be desired, nothing more useful sought after, nothing is harder to find, nothing sweeter to experience, nothing more fruitful to possess than friendship. For it bears fruit both in this life and the next, showing forth all virtues in its sweetness and in its strength destroying vice. It softens the blows of adversity and moderates elation in prosperity. Without friendship there can be hardly any happiness among humans; they may well be compared to animals if they have no one to rejoice with them in good fortune or sympathize with them in sorrow, no one to whom they can unburden themselves in time of trouble, or with whom they can share some especially uplifting or inspiring insight.
“Alas for anyone who is alone and has no one to lift him up when he falls. Without a friend one is indeed alone. But what joy it is, what security, what a delight to have someone to whom you dare to speak as to another self; to whom you are not afraid to admit that you have done something wrong, or shy of revealing some spiritual progress you have made; someone to whom you can entrust all the secrets of your heart and with whom you can share your plans.”
Aelred was a member of the Cistercian Order who later became abbot of Rievaulx and was noted for his theological and spiritual writings.