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A Tale of Two Friends

The thoughts from the porch are pouring in today. We came home after a fantastic weekend with our friends in Oklahoma. We camped out, enjoyed a walk through the woods around Lake Murray, and later, went to a meeting in town to hear great speakers share their journey through this thing called life. We shared a superb meal with a lot of  friends after the meeting (a big thank you to the folks who seated so many on a full Saturday night!).

We ate, laughed, and shared stories about life and our friend, Jim. His life had a far reach: people who only knew him through friends had been touched and blessed by Jim’s life. Then we made our way back to home for a well-deserved rest without setting the alarm clock. Believe it or not, we slept in until 8:15!

Sadly, we weren’t awake long before news of another friend’s passing arrived. We had just asked about him last night. Not many of the ones who cared about him had heard from him the last couple of years. He had isolated himself from us following a tumultuous love affair that left him emotionally shattered and in poor health. Looking back, I’m not sure whether the physical ailments or the broken heart is what finally led to his passing.

Like Jim, he too helped many people on their journey to recovery and a new way of life. I know. His often simple words helped me even when they dripped with sarcasm. You’d have to really know him to understand. He will be missed. As another friend said, “I loved him”.

I thought about those simple words as I sat on the porch this morning. I watched as two beautiful red-headed woodpeckers made their way up and around opposite sides of the big Arizona Ash in our yard. They constantly climbed higher, circling around the tree trunk, looking for hidden gems of sustenance, doing what woodpeckers do.

Both those simple words and the woodpeckers got me to thinking about lost friends and the life I have today. I hope I’m climbing higher. I hope I’m growing. I hope I’m becoming the kind of man my God wants me to be. If I just keep “pecking”, I might just find the hidden gems God put there for me. Jim did that. He kept “pecking”. He kept looking for, and sharing, those hidden gems. He stayed connected to the people he loved and loved him. That’s what he taught me.

I learned that from my other friend as well. Just in a different way. I learned just how important it is to stay in touch. It’s hard to love from a distance, especially when I create it. It’s just as important to be there for others as it is for them be there for me. Though writing connects with people on another level, it can be isolating. So I have to be among my friends, among my community, to stay on the upward circling path.

With both my friends I’m also reminded that keeping in touch is a two-way street. I hope to do a better job of letting my friends know how much they mean to me, and to make myself more available. It’s not easy nor convenient at times, but it sure beats not letting the people in your life know that you’re there; that you love them. I can’t remember a time when I wished I’d spent more time at this computer. I can tell you I long for one more time to let the friends who have passed know how much I love and appreciate them. Besides, it’s a lot easier to climb that tree together…

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