Thursday, February 23, 2006

Friendships—Handshakes and Hugs

The north winds blew across the Texas Panhandle swept into Abilene and pierced wool coats as if they were T-shirts. This past week, I spent a few days on Abilene Christian University’s campus. The chilly weather no way mirrored the warmth of friends reuniting after months or years of not seeing each other.

On campus, a booth-filled gymnasium was transformed into bookstore and information outlet for many ministries. A women’s group had a stall and sold homemade pies. The immediate area was furnished with plenty of tables and chairs and became a central meeting place for friends. Sitting alone a few times, I witnessed longtime friends reuniting. Warm bear hugs and handshakes between men, and among the women, squeals and 90-degree-Farenheit smiles—they became the room’s thermostat.

In our culture gone mad with noise and a variety of distractions, quiet moments with friends bring refreshment. My days with dear friends reminded me of Jesus and his companions who experienced this camaraderie. The frenetic days of Jesus’ ministry were balanced by withdrawing with his friends to deserted places.

Jesus, the Son of God, is the answer to noise pollution of my life. Because of crowds and their almost constant neediness, Jesus often traveled to uninhabited areas (1:45). No doubt, Jesus loved the crowds, but to garner strength, he spent time in prayer or with an intimate group of friends. In his story, I see the restorative power of such times.

While here on earth, Jesus had a flesh and blood body and his needs reflect needs of humanity. His physical body required rest, and his mind and heart required respite. God’s love and message are capable of reaching through the clatter of daily routine. But I find it difficult to distinguish the call of God when the blast of a television is in the background. In the last few years I felt a need to shut out noise that I can control. Of late, I made a conscious effort to weed noise from my environment. I used to turn on a morning newscast, but that no longer happens. I used to listen to talk radio every few days. I’m weaned from the airways.

Me, myself, and I are not that great of a companion, but in the silence, in the quiet, my friend Jesus is given a better opportunity to abide with me. He is Bread, Sanctuary, Life and Light. He fills in the dark gaps in my life.

The quiet and ordered environment I desire has not been perfected, and I doubt it will be while dwelling on earth. Of course, not all life-intrusions come by way of noise. Some don’t have decibel ratings, but they keep us from an intentional time with God and friends. Unsolicited junk mail is one that comes to mind. My on-going goals are to free myself from such life-trappings, to have more time for retreats with family and friends.

The word “companion” is formed from two Latin words: com/with and panis/ bread. Those we break bread with are companions. I love the times when friends arrange to meet in someone’s home. Pat, Doris, Betty, Mary Jo, Sherri, and Kay, bring their offerings of fruit salad, baked chicken, and bread. Conversations percolate through meal time, through breaking bread.

Of course, the best friend is Jesus who is a constant attendant. He assists at 2:00 A.M. or noonday. This Prince of Peace owns time, he is the time keeper. Always near, he is ready with a quiet meal for a friend. He is the meal, the one who always brings the bread—Jesus, the Christ.

1 comment:

  1. Cathy -
    Thanks for your post on Updates On Jack. I appreciate your encouragement and am so glad that we got to meet. Thank you for your prayers for Jack.