Wednesday, October 28, 2015
“Sometimes the best friends will just sit with you quietly. ” ― Me
My day, much like yours I expect, is filled with frequent and unscheduled interruptions to deal with one issue or another. For 27 years of our fifty married years, my vocations required me to be on 24-hour call. These last few days of quiet here (some helped along by no power and no internet), reminded me of how special it was to be able to be away from constant needs pulling me away from whatever I was doing. Happily, we can pause DVD’s to deal with whatever little emergency arises. If I had a dollar for every show that was interrupted by mission, family, staff, church, and community reasons, I would have enough to run the mission for several years. We have gotten used to the fact that unless we are eating (local culture doesn’t allow interrupting eating) we may have to stop whatever we are doing and listen to or deal with the problems (“shida” in Swahili) that arise on a quite irregular basis. It was much different when I was on 24-hour call because calls could come in the middle of the night and interrupt anything from the Super Bowl to good night’s sleep. For seven years, I ran locked mental institutions in Los Angeles, and for twenty years was a pastor of a church or churches. People died, babies got sick, patients escaped, fires broke out, drug addicts needed to get into detox, abused women needed to get into battered women’s shelters, or someone needed to be bailed out of jail. I helped the mortuary lift and load bodies of parishioner’s families, and knew almost all the emergency room staff by their first names. The invention of cell phones only increased the intrusions. Before those handy things came along, I carried a beeper that required me to find a phone to call the facility. Once, I was on a freeway in Los Angeles and the beeper went off. I exited at the next off-ramp, found a phone, called the institution only to hear, “Do you know where we keep the copier paper?” Not all emergencies were life and death. The quiet times I’ve had in the last couple of days reminded me of my old and current friend, Ron Teasley. Ron was a member of my church in Gravette, Arkansas, and owned a local drug store. Ron was also on 24-hour call and used to leaving things unwatched, unread, or uncooked to deal with whatever the need was. Ron was a very good man, on the school board for a while, and with me as his spotter, was the announcer every Friday night for the Gravette home football games. We continued to do that for years even after I moved on to another pastorate thirty miles away. What reminded me of Ron was that he and I used to go fishing, but not to catch fish. If you caught them, you had to clean them and cook them. We went fishing at Beaver Lake, a huge lake near Gravette because while we out on the boat, no one could reach us. Not by dropping by, making a phone call, or having someone else track us down. For several hours, sometimes almost a whole day, he and I rode in the boat, sat and watched corks float (sometimes with no bait attached), solved the problems of the world, and attended to our own emotional upsets from time to time. Those were some of the happiest hours of my life. I didn’t mind being needed or providing whatever help I could and neither did Ron, but boy, was it nice to just have each other’s company, some sandwiches, snacks, sodas, and a beautiful lake with gorgeous scenery provided by God. Everyone needs some quiet time, some time to reflect on what’s going on, and I loved having Ron to share that with me. He should be retired now, but he still works one or two days a week—neither of us know how to quit helping others which is one of the things I love about him. Even as I write this, I can see a current prescription bottle from Teasley Drug with some medication I need and can’t get here. It takes it a couple of months to get here, but Ron is still helping (with the invaluable help of another good friend, Ginny Poulter, who has been here and worked at the mission). So, wherever you are, Ron, I lift my glass of Coke Zero (all I’m allowed) and toast you for all you meant and still mean to me. You, too, Ginny. Don’t know if I would be here without either of them. If you have friends like them, cherish them and let them know how important they are to you. They loved me as I loved them, and I read in a book that you should do that.