July 2, 2017
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” ~ Psalm 91
I had the incredible honor today to visit with an old friend who I hadn’t seen in a number of years. I felt awkward, because at 83 his health is failing and I should have made more of an effort to stay in touch. Somewhat selfishly, I wanted to see him because I didn’t know how many opportunities I might have left and I seriously regretted missing the ones that I’d had.
Although he recognized me, he had trouble remembering my name, and yet the connection remained. So much so that the first thing he asked about, was the job I was doing the last time we had seen one another; so, he clearly remembered me. But, “Tell me your name again?” he asked.
This morning, he offered a chair, but I chose to sit next to him on a small couch and soon he was sharing stories with me about his life. He talked about the 38 countries he’s visited, and about the hundreds of paintings he’s done over the years, the thousands of people he’s met and all of the adventures he’s had. “A pretty good life,” he said.
“But I’m proudest of my children,” he said looking earnestly into my eyes and with tears in his own. “They’re self-sufficient; they’re honest, hard-working, good people.” “I’m proud of that,” he told me. “Maybe I didn’t do so bad.”
I could tell he was taking the measure of his own life by all that he’s accomplished; and, he was sharing this intimately with me.
Ron and I have always shared stories; we sit for hours and tell one another about our adventures. It’s never a competition, but every story reminds us of another and so we tell it.
Ron has journaled for years and has encouraged me over and over to do the same, to write the stories down so they can be shared with others. I’ve never felt my stories were on a par with his, but his interest has always been genuine and so I’ve been graciously given the freedom to share mine with him. This blog is because of my friend, the ultimate story teller.
Those of you who love to read, can appreciate that sharing stories with someone like Ron, is like reading a good book, one that you can’t put down because it takes you places you may never get to go.
Years ago, I had the privilege of knowing another individual like Ron. Vi was 101 years young, and I used to visit her home in Mesa, Arizona. I’d come to the house and she’d offer iced tea and then we’d sit in her parlor and I’d say “Vi, tell me about the good old days.” Then it was time to sit back and enjoy! And oh, the stories she’d tell! Time would stand still as she vividly remembered her life and growing up while Arizona was still a territory.
It’s a humbling thing to be made a part of their experience, and so it was today with Ron. For more than 50 years Ron has been an artist, sketching and painting, “photographing” with paint or pen on canvas all that caught his artists eye. In this way, as he traveled the world he captured his adventures, preserving them for posterity and for a few of us lucky enough to own a piece of his work, we’ll always have him with us.
Now, age has robbed him of his ability to paint or draw, but it hasn’t dimmed his memories of where his life has taken him. Ron’s life has been a story, and, like any good plot, there’s been love, adventure, hard times and oh so many more good times. Ron has embraced life, kicked it around a little, allowed it to take him where it would, and loved every minute of it.
I’ve always wanted to share God’s love with Ron, but over the years it’s been clear that he hasn’t had a lot of time for organized religion. And so, I haven’t pressed the issue, selfishly putting the relationship in front of what’s most important, sharing the love of Jesus.
Today was different; perhaps feeling his own mortality, it was Ron who invoked God’s blessings and invited prayer.
As I left we embraced, and I told Ron that I knew he’d understand when I told him that I loved him. With tears in his eyes holding each of my hands, Ron said “God bless you.”
Epilogue ~ All of you know a story teller. Scripture tells us “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”
Embrace your story teller and listen as they share their adventures with you; do it now while there is yet time for another chapter.