Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ten Years

Yesterday I was privileged to see an old friend.

I first met him in 1982 in early June I think. He was my first pastor after I actually came to know that God was real. Easter in 1982 was on April 11th. Pentecost is 50 days following Easter Sunday or the 8th Sunday from Easter and including Easter. That means Pentecost in 1982 was May 30th.

He was 54 then. He had already been the pastor there for 28 years. I was 33.

The last time I saw him was in Dallas in 1998 just a few months before I came to live with mom and dad.

Now I'm 59 and he's 80. People change some in a decade. But I recognized him immediately. I noticed his body had aged. I guess I must have aged too because he saw me and I waved and then he came over to me. I stood and moved toward him. He extended his hand and I took it but I tried, awkwardly, to hug him. I thought about it beforehand and did it deliberately even though he's never been much of a hugger. But I thought I wanted to hug him and didn't care about the others in the room or even his reluctance for that matter. I think I would not have before I was a caregiver. He said "I wouldn't have recognized you." I thought he must have though or otherwise he wouldn't have spotted me. Then I said "I've aged a few years but you haven't." He laughed.

In a way it wasn't true that he had not aged. His body was older. I noticed his belt was cinched all the way now and his stomach below the belt was protruding a little just as I've seen in so many of my 80 year old friends. There was even less hair and what was there was whiter I guess. The muscles and skin around his face and neck had sagged a bit more.

But otherwise he was the same. His voice and his manner of speech and his mannerisms. Besides I know the man and only a part of a man is his physical body. I don't discount that part but neither is it the part of this man that I love so dearly.

I may not have been the youngest there but I was close. Most were in their 70's and 80's. At least three men either were or had been caregivers for Alzheimer's spouses. A few people I remembered from that church but I think only one remembered me. There were about 30 people there.

It was a Bible study that is held in this little barbecue restaurant every Monday. It was a great study. My friend is one of if not the best expositors I've had the opportunity to hear.

The study itself was about the dangers of being Pharisaical.

The Pharisees were an old group in Judaism by the time of Jesus. They were the traditionalists and were interested in preserving the society against the influences of the modern world. They considered all of the Scripture to be Holy and inspired and they were literal in their interpretation. They believed in the resurrection of the body. So they shared a good many things with modern day evangelicals. There were some stark differences as well.

But they were the group that was most opposed to Jesus and they were the group that Jesus most often criticized most harshly.

It was a very good exposition and made me understand how much I have missed this kind of teaching.

Afterward he and I went to a little root beer place. He bought each of us a frosty, cold mug of root beer. The mug was so cold that it had ice on the outside and the root beer on the inside had that frothy ice like stuff down at the bottom. I do not remember the last time I enjoyed a root beer like this.

We talked about our lives over the last decade. Time fled so quickly and we each had to go.


nancy said...

it sounds as if you had a wonderful time recollecting an earlier time in your life. things like that are important, especially when they are happy times. i'm happy for you as well.

your description of your root beer was great. there is nothing better than a root beer in a frosted mug!

Lori1955 said...

Ahhh, there is nothing better than an old friend, a frosty mug of root beer and spending some time in the Word. Sounds like a great time.

Joanne said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful visit with your friend. The root beer sounded great, too.

~Betsy said...

I'm so glad you had a wonderful afternoon and time, though short, to catch up with an old friend. Thanks for sharing.