I think I may be like most guys in that I have a million and one acquaintances, I have a thousand and one buddies and I have a hand full of really great friends. You know the ones I mean. The ones that you would be willing to die for and you know they would certainly lay down their life for you. Let me tell you about one such friend. To protect his identity I will call him friend X, but he will certainly know who he is. Here’s to you X.
I met X way back when I was in high school. We did not go to the same high school or anything like that; we met at a weekend retreat. You know, one of those yeah yeah rah rah make you feel good things. What I remember about X at that point is that he was serious and not too impressed with this rah rah stuff. But he was a gifted cartoonist. He kept me entertained or distracted through part of the weekend with his cartoon musings. This was the beginning of a lasting relationship.
We never ran into each other for the rest of high school but then came college. X was also a musically gifted man and our paths crossed in choir and other musical church activities. We were never in the same choir but just the fact that we were singers created a bit of a bond.
Then there was senior year in college, or I should say my senior year. X was one year younger than me, but we both got involved in the same activity. We both became residence assistants (RA’s) that year. You know glorified baby sitters. We were “stationed” on the same floor of freshmen. This was to become our year of torment experienced together. You have heard the stories of foxhole buddies. Whenever people experience hardship together a deep bond can be formed. This was certainly one of those times.
NOTE: Warning to all college juniors considering being an RA for the next school year. Think this one through very carefully. Huge challenges ahead.
So needless to say a strong bond was built during that year because of the shared difficulties. But there were bonds built for other reasons also. X is a man of a brilliant mind and great work ethic. It is because of his great mind and questioning personality that we were able to get into great meaningful conversations. At that point in my life I was mostly a liberal both politically and socially. Imagine that, a liberal ex pot smoker studying to go into the Air Force, hummmm now that is an interesting combination. But X was a politically astute conservative. Imagine the great conversations we had late into the night. Looking back on this time in my life I realize what a very formative time this was for me and the challenge was awesome.
Not only did we discuss politics and all that, but we were also very familiar with each others love lives. At my wedding X played a song that he had written for one of his old girl friends. It was one of those energetic yet hauntingly beautiful songs that capture your heart and your imagination. That song and the knowledge of the situation that surrounds it still resonate in my heart and mind. Bravo X
After my graduation, I eventually moved off to New Hampshire for some of my active duty Air Force service. While there, X had moved to Washington DC to work for a US congressman from our state. My new wife and I were able to catch up with X in DC for a visit. I remember how he was so disgusted with my continuing liberal tendencies. That visit was such a romantic wonderful time for my wife and I and just another connecting point with X.
Over the next few years we would connect on an occasional basis but our lives were in le different points. I was now married with kids and X was not. X was becoming maybe a bit consumed by all the world had to offer. Success, Money, Power etc.
Then, my life changed dramatically. In 1993, I became a Christian, meaning someone that has committed his life to following Jesus Christ. Sometime after that point, I had an opportunity to share this with X. I recall his strong skepticism. X was a man of intellect and reason. In this exchange I remember sharing with X some of the crap that I had been involved with in my life, and I think my openness in sharing that affected him deeply. It was this sharing that build another bond that would be the seed that would be used to build our relationship to where it is today.
For the last several years X has been on a spiritual journey that has been very similar to mine. We were both raised with strong Catholic backgrounds by mothers that had both considered going into the convent. We have both witnessed and considered some of the huge weaknesses and of course the strengths of the Catholic Church. We have experienced the faith, traditions and teaching of the Protestant or evangelical churches and of course we have noted strengths and weaknesses in that world. In many ways we find ourselves followers of Jesus Christ that don’t fit into a church. X has shared with me how my journey has been a bit of a map for his journey. This has built another very deep bond.
This past weekend we were able to get together with X and his wife and two other couples. X (and beautiful wife Y) prepared a fantastic dinner, arranged for us to be picked up by a limo to go out and view the fantastic Christmas light displays around the Twin Cities. Then we ended the evening at a wonderful restaurant that was wonderfully decorated and lit up for Christmas. You could just feel the cheer all around. We spend a part of the evening reminiscing and recounting all of our blessings.
I have found that it is during these reminiscing times that you realize just how blessed you are. I also had the understanding that X is a friend that I would die for. Thank you X.