Sometimes when I look at myself, I see someone who tries too often to make a splash.
"Look at me! Look at me!" my behaviour sometimes cries. Just like the average three year old. Pathetic, eh?
Well, there's someone I'm getting to know who doesn't do that at all. Sometimes I think I'd really like to be more like him.
We had tea with this new friend, and with a few other people not many weeks ago. Some of us in this group of five were old friends, but others were just getting to know each other. I sent out some tiny tendrils of potential relationship, fragile, tender, trying not to be too vulnerable, deciding to what level of friendship I could begin to trust, taking small risks, yet all the while knowing I was pretty safe. It was myself I was afraid to trust.
We talked about a lot of different things that September afternoon. I told a story about my dad and how he was being treated while in the hospital. I talked a lot because it was a long story and a fresh one. I wondered, as we carried on, if I'd said too much, shared more than I should have. Perhaps I'd bored the party all the way to politely-held-back tears.
The rest of the conversation danced and leapt with thoughts and ideas and stories, erupting from time to time into laughter unrestrained. When a stranger broke into our cameraderie with a rudeness that cast a sudden chill, we quickly found the silver lining. The intrusion allowed a rare peek deep into the windows of each others' hearts as in that moment of sudden exposure forced onto us by another's bad behaviour. We suddenly dropped all defenses in our quickness to support each other through the uncomfortableness of it all.
All this time he didn't say much, happily letting others do most of the talking. But his eyes spoke with a rare eloquence and showed a keen interest in all that was being said. And he laughed -- with sincerity -- at ALL the jokes. Perhaps he was quiet, but he was certainly "there".
I don't enjoy goodbyes. I haven't figured out all the "rules" yet, even in middle age, and I never quite know if I will find this to be one of those awkward moments of usually short but intense discomfort. We began to gather our things and I braced myself for that last uncomfortable moment, ready to say, "So long," to everyone there.
I needn't have worried about any awkward moments with this new friend. His parting words, accompanied by a friendly, accepting hug, were simply, "Let me know what happens with your dad..."
Let me know what happens with your dad.
For me, there was more in those eight words than in all the other conversation that happened that afternoon. As my concern for my dad continues I remember those words sometimes. They come back like a warm and welcome blanket over my chilly set of worries.
Still waters run deep. And sometimes they run very deep. And sometimes they leave a good and lasting mark.
"Like apples of gold, in settings of silver, is a word aptly spoken." Proverbs 25:11