Henri Nouwen said that “Friendship is one of the greatest gifts a human being can receive. It is a bond beyond common goals, common interests, or common histories. It is a bond stronger than sexual union can create, deeper than a shared fate can solidify, and even more intimate than the bonds of community. Friendship is being with the other in joy and sorrow, even when we cannot increase the joy or decrease the sorrow. It is a unity of souls that gives nobility and sincerity to love. Friendship makes all of life shine brightly. Blessed are those who lay down their lives for their friends.”

A dear friend just found out they are very sick. While this sickness has a hopeful path to recovery, it is still a great concern to me. Through a mutual love and service to the church, we have come to appreciate and care for each other. Through God’s grace and healing touch, I will look forward to visiting the house where we worked together, to once more shake the walls with our laughter. It was in this house that our friendship began.

Living In Awe

I have always been struck by the change in countenance that comes over many of us when we enter into a deep examination of our life, opening our hearts to God, as we come before Him in the spiritual nakedness of reconciliation.

The first time I heard the Holly Miller (aka Hollyn) song In Awe, I was spellbound. I felt she captured the power, beauty, and awesomeness of reconciling ourselves to the Lord.

Every day I fall
But You never let me go . . .
You know what I’ve been . . .
No, not innocent like you
Oh God, I’m sorry

When we separate ourselves from God through selfish actions, he never stops desiring our return – to be in communion with him.

I’m living in awe
Because You don’t need me at all
But You couldn’t love me more

This unconditional, unmerited, and unfathomable love is utterly awesome. We can enter this state of awe when we humble ourselves, embrace the servant heart within all of us, and know that even when we feel unworthy, he sees worth in us. Live in Awe.

The New Guy in Town

One of the necessities you carry out in moving to a new geographical location is learning where to get a place to stay, where to buy food, where to get your dry cleaning done, and at some point, in the “where to process,” where to get your hair cut (at least for those of us that still have some).

This afternoon I experienced the importance of ensuring someone clearly understands what you are telling them. Upon checking in at the recommended hair cutting establishment and watching my name work up the waiting list, a nice young lady asked me to follow her.

After taking my place in the chair, she began by asking if I had been to her establishment before to which I responded I was new in town.  After a few more niceties, she asked me what I wanted done with my hair.

I explained that I usually get it cut like the young man next to me – a number 4 up the back and sides and short but long enough to comb on top. “But,” I continued, “I’ve been trying to grow my hair out a bit longer as you can see. Could you just take a quarter to a half inch off the back, thin out the sides but leave the length and keep the top as is?”

She affirmed my request as I turned my attention to the myriad of TV screens that adorned the establishment. I was instantly mesmerized by the baseball game that was playing as she began preparations to cut my hair.

Then, in sort of that slow-motion recognition that occurs when we distract ourselves, I heard and felt the clippers buzz by my ear. I quickly looked in the mirror in startled disbelief as 2 inches of hair on the side of my head hit the floor. Stunned, I blurted out “What!”

She hears my reaction and responds, “Oh! You only wanted me to take a half inch off the back!” The place almost instantly went silent as she stood staring at me in the mirror.

Grappling for an appropriately pastoral response I said, “Oh well, at least these types of mistakes grow back.”

That made a few in the waiting area nervously chuckle, which must have affirmed her in some way, as she didn’t miss a beat by saying, “I’m going to upgrade you to our VIP service!”

That’s when the hair professional next to her bust out laughing as did the rest of the place. Oh the importance of clarification and verification.

Now, where did they tell me was a good place to eat . . .