Don and I have become what I’d like to think of as good friends. He is a recently retired, very successful businessman who has traveled the world but likes to hang out with guys like me. One of the things I have known about Don is that he visited with his dad every single day he wasn’t traveling. I’ve listened as Don told about how his dad was doing or what they talked about or what they had for lunch.
What so impressed me is that Don talked about his dad and these visits, not like it was some great sacrifice on his part but more like a privilege, something he wanted to do. You should hear the story about the time Don got caught up in playing the favorite songs of his father on his phone.
When his father died, my friend texted me soon afterwards; this moved me.
Hearing from a buddy that you hang out with about something of this depth of importance in their lives… has not happened to me much. Don’s faithfulness to our friendship underscores the greater faithfulness to his father and my guess is to most of the other relationships of his life.
Faithfulness is a word I don’t often use. I save it for a moment of depth and importance. Faithfulness is not only the loyalty or reliability that can be measured; it is also the devotion, the sense of trust that happens when a relationship reaches a depth of intimacy that is beyond reason or words. Faithfulness is not only doing what is required, what you should or have to do; faithfulness believes that nothing transcends a relationship, that there is a divine purpose in our connection to one another.
Just what exactly that divine purpose might be is a subject for someone above my pay grade to address. If you gave me a guess, I’d say that we catch a glimpse of God’s devotion to be in relationship with us when we are faithful in our most intimate relationships with others. When we give of ourselves in this way, freely, unreservedly and risk the pain that faithfulness can bring, I believe we also come to understand what Jesus was talking about when he said, Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”( John 13:34-35, The Message)
Thornton Wilder at the end of his novel, The Bridge at San Luis Rey wrote about the divine purpose of love. I offer this to my friend Don and all those who have been and are faithful.
There is a land of the living
And a land of the dead.
And the bridge is love,
The only survival
The only meaning.
Keep the Faith,