“Do not walk through time without giving worthy evidence of your passage.”

St. Pope John XXIII

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Carl’s funeral will be tomorrow.

Carl was 60 when he died.  I met him last summer.  He had retired from his work as a plumber after battling throat cancer.

First time I met him we talked easily about good things, especially his restored 1930’s Ford truck.  Like most guys who work with their hands, Carl could do pretty much anything that was “hands-on.”

Less than a week after I met him, I arrived back from Church and grocery shopping to find Carl mowing by severely uncut grass and the weeds it accommodated.  Surprised, I got out of my car with arms stretched out wide and a smile of disbelief on my face.

“Carl, what are you doing?” I said.   Over the hum and motion of the mower he replied, “Mowing your lawn …”  He then added, “I had nothing to do.”

That was Carl, a man of seamless friendship.  I was merely his latest beneficiary.

Thinking of Carl this week brought me back to a telephone conversation I had with my Dear Friend and legal colleague John, some years earlier.

Shortly after I began a year in a monastery setting in the mountains of Colorado, I got a call from John, still work-bound in Washington, D.C.

In that call, John asked me, “So what’s it like.”

With the emphasis on “it” I knew he was not talking weather, terrain, atmosphere, daily schedule or the like.  No, he was asking about the defining nature of daily life focused on faith, prayer, solitude, worship, silence, reflection, contemplation, study and physical labor.

My response: “Do you mean is there a special door you go through, a magic portal that changes you?”  “Ya,” he said.

Spontaneously I uttered this truth, “John, there is no special door. It’s all one-on-one basketball.  You against God everyday and he beats the devil out of you. If you show up each day, you get better.”

His apt reply, “I’m so relieved.”

Well folks, maybe there is a special door.  Maybe it is Carl.  Maybe it is my Dear Friend Jackie Quinn LaRocca who died last month.

The special door you ask?  Friendship.

Seamless friendship mediates the love of God and enkindles belief in us if we see it, recognize it and experience it – this seamless friendship.

Carl could not be other than a friend.  That was who he was.  It offered itself through him as he was made to give it – by doing for you, sharing what he had with you.  Jackie did the same.  Her most special trait was friendship served as welcome and ungarnished honesty, a perpetual sense of humor, and a sharp Irish eye for bluster, fraud, and fakery, and a delight in naming each plainly.

Loving and befriending this way as a friend is the special door.

Befriend others.  Know yourself honestly and give the way you are equipped to do so.

When you befriend you mediate the love of God and in a time of lost belief, you give ceaseless life to belief, and to those who will believe because of you.

Shalom.

Postscript – I gave both Carl and Jackie small rosaries when they were sick and hospitalized.  Each carried their rosaries everywhere they went.  Carl and his wife got baptized when his illness took its worse turn.  Jackie was buried with her rosary in her hands.  I suspect Carl will as well.  In friendship we believe and show we believe.  In friendship, we mediate God’s endless love of us, of each of us.   

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