A friend died the other day.
He was a good man. My wife was his spiritual director and gave a beautiful eulogy at his funeral.
One thing she mentioned was his poetry. He was able to take the slightest, most forgettable moments of a day and penetrate them to the depth and breadth of life.
It could be an ocean wave, an unexpected interruption, or a rustling corn husk — the whispers of God were everywhere, inviting pause, reflection, and perhaps a change of course.
He was no Whitman or Wordsworth, and few outside his circle will read his verse, but I would daresay that his poetic confessions and insights have affected their lives more profoundly than the whole pantheon of poets.
Obviously, this friend was special, but isn’t everyone? Doesn’t everyone we care for, are attracted to, or want to be with, bring some special gift into our lives?
The sad thing is that it sometimes takes a eulogy to realize this. We have appreciated our friends for years, but have we named what it is that sets them apart, that makes them so dear?
I don’t think we need to start their eulogies, but it wouldn’t hurt to take the time to consider our friends and loved ones in light of what they give to us and to others.
We might have a friend we would call a warrior. I don’t mean someone who is combative, but someone who stands up for what she believes, who is not afraid to upset the status quo for the sake of truth or the rights of another.
We may have a friend who is a natural servant — not inferior, but humble. His greatest concern is for the needs of others, and he will make personal sacrifices to meet them.
There are healers among us — friends to whom we readily go when we are hurt or wounded. They seem to instinctively know what to say and what not to say.
They may not remove the pain, but they are with us through it.
There are many other types — sages, jesters, artists, rebels — all with a dominant trait — a particular gift that we all need at some point in our lives.
My wife revealed another thing about our friend. He believed that we are saved, not as individuals, but as a community.
That can only happen through the gifts of others — from poetry to humor, from courage to care.