Life is very random, and so friendships are formed rather randomly. You become friends with the people you work with, you become friends with the people you worship with, and of course there are the neighbors. Sometimes, however, all of these methods of acquiring friends fall short. You don't choose who you work with or who lives near you. The one thing you do have some control over is where you worship, and with whom. But that falls short too, often enough. I had a dozen "friends" at the United Methodist Church. Not one of them looked at the world the way I do. I left their circle ten years ago and don't miss them a bit.
When I became a Pagan, I underwent a spiritual transformation. This had nothing to do with finding friendship at all. It was an inner shift, a philosophical and experiential shift, and it happened in a solitary setting. In other words, I did not become a Pagan because I felt like it would be a path to finding friends.
Being a Pagan has been a terrific way to find friends. Maybe it's like love -- it comes where and when you least expect it.
Even my most glancing interactions with other Pagans (not including Facebook) are informed by a colossal likeness of mind. This is not entirely because of shared Pagan deities or rituals. It goes beyond that to a broader interaction with the world. Almost all of the Pagans I have met since my spiritual transformation in 2005 have been well-read, nature-loving (duh!), humorous and imaginative people, often with humorous and imaginative children. And because Pagans aren't burdened with the need to upkeep lavish churches, the interest Pagans show to one another is less about wooing and more about genuine shared interests.
This weekend I got together with two friends I met through the Pagan community. I didn't know either one of them in 2005. Now I consider them "best"friends. This is because independently we do the same things. In other words, I started doing stuff that they were doing, we met, and now we do stuff together. We're not in lock-step, but we have common ground beyond just our praise and worship paths.
If there's any free advice to be had from this sermon, it is this: When your path of worship opens up to you, it's likely that the people you meet will be kindred spirits. This might not be true if you are following a faith handed down from your parents or just strongly supported by your community.
I know very well that some Pagans have been burned by friendships formed through their faith. I'm not one of those people. I feel blessed to have met the people I've met. And I feel truly blessed to have found some really wonderful people with whom I have formed close bonds.
So, to my 21st century friends: If I hadn't left the United Methodist Church, I never would have met you. If the Gods hadn't spoken to me in my solitude, I never would have met you. Praised be the bored gods! I didn't ask, but I received all the same.