Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fish, a Polar Bear and Spider Webs

From an early age I always had trouble with using the term "best friend". And though I've had some really close friends that knew me all too well, it was hard labeling any one of them as a best friend. There is something inside of me that can't accept calling one person my best friend. I'm not really sure where that came from other than it didn't settle well for me.

Today I was at my trusty processing spot Panera. I went with the intention on being out of the house and not distracted with all the things I could be doing to just read. I wanted to finish up a book written by someone I had recently had the pleasure of meeting. I got about a chapter and a half in when I heard "pst, psssttt, pst". I lowered the book and peeked at the older gentleman sitting in a chair not too far away. He was beckoning my attention and I was most definitely intrigued as to the reason for this invitation to conversation as only a grandfather figure could do and get away with.

Glover, as he's affectionately called by his last name, is a regular at this particular Panera. He visits daily and loves to make new friends. I'm seen him there several times and he's always engaging someone in conversation. He and several of his friends of all different types of walks of life get together and talk about whatever comes up. And I can say with certainty that there is no subject they have not put their two cents (although I don't understand this phrase...I truly believe that their thoughts and opinions are much more valuable than that...its what I'll go with right now) worth in. They call themselves "the Liar's Club" because each time they meet the same stories get bigger and better than they told previously, the fish gets larger, the financial deal gets sweeter, the girl gets prettier and so on. Glover is a witty man. I tell ya' he's got jokes!

Glover and I talked for an hour...and this means that I did 90% of the listening. I learned a lot about this man today. I learned about how much he adores his 4 grandchildren and how his wife is an amazing cook (at least that's what the grandkids say to them). He told me about working for 3M for 29 years before retiring. We also talked about a fishing trip to Canada he and his son, Randy, took just 14 years ago. Randy passed away of Lou Gehrig's Disease 13 years ago. Glover talked with such pride about his son and that trip! He recalled moments on that trip so clearly and with such joy.

I sat mesmerized and was seeing Jesus all over this Crieve Hall Baptist Church member. My heart was full hearing bits and pieces of his life story. He eventually got a call from his wife, who has only been to that particular Panera twice in the several years that it's been open, that dinner was ready. Being the smart man he was he started gathering up his belongings and I stood to shake his hand and say our goodbyes. He apologized for talking my ear off and I looked him in the eyes and told him that I thoroughly enjoyed our time.

I sat down for a few minutes to take that moment in and then I gathered my personal affects and headed home. I truly enjoyed listening. It brought me joy to hear him talk about whatever he wanted to talk about. I was even slightly sad that it ended. I quickly ate dinner upon arriving at home and got comfortable to see if I could finish that book I was reading. And, yes, I chose to stay home on a Saturday night to read...say what you want, but I'm not an avid reader so this is a miracle for more than one reason. I read the rest of the book slide it on to the ottoman in front of me. I sat for a few minutes and organized my thoughts on the book. Again, I was a little sad that it ended. And though I may not completely agree with everything in the book I think it is a well thought-out, well written non-fiction literary work (not that anyone should EVER take my opinion on a book alone unless we're talking about THE Book).

I now feel like I know the author. I have read piece after piece of their life that they offered with such vulnerability (because that is what most writing is, right? putting your heart out there for the world to read?). As I sat there a little longer I realized I again was sad because the dialogue came to an end...and yes, in the case it was 100% the author speaking and me listening. Why? Why was I sad about saying goodbye to Glover or reading the final words of the author?

I felt the Holy Spirit remind me of something I've said a couple times this week when I try to explain to people why it was so hard for me to leave Haiti. "I love to hear people's life stories. When they tell me their story I fall in love with the Jesus in them and I don't want to leave them. It's like they become family." echoed in my heart. Anyone can be family because we're all connected when we see through the lens of our Heavenly Father. Maybe because I feel so connected to those around me I can't select just one person to be my best friend. And for those of you who know my friendship philosophy you probably can quote me saying: 3-12-other. I still firmly believe in that even though what it looked like last year is completely different than it looks this year in my life.

There's nothing wrong with having a best friend...a lot of it really is in the translation anyway. I guess when I am entrusted with the details of one's life story I feel that I've been given a treasure...a piece of their heart...a piece of Jesus in them...and it overwhelms me. My heart is full because I keep the pieces of those I've encountered with me and I am forever grateful for each one of them.

And just to pat myself on the back...I finished a book this week and am half way through another one. Baby steps. I'll learn to just sit more often.