Monday, October 24, 2005

Moon Howlin'

When Job's three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. --Job 2:11-13

The snow was falling. It lent a hush to the world, a muffled echo of the numbness we felt.
A playpen sat empty in the living room. An undecorated Christmas tree was leaning on the front porch. My son had died the day before. F. was at the door, telling me that if there was anything, anything at all, he could do, just tell him what it was. The child we had sought for so many years was gone. There really wasn’t much anyone could do. I invited him in and we looked at the three portraits from K Mart. I thought about the pictures we didn’t select. Ones we had passed on because of the expense.

“There are some pictures of Willy at K Mart we decided not to buy. I would like to have them.”

“Sure thing!” he said. “Don’t give it another thought.”

And off he went in that old white Dodge truck. He was back three and half hours later with those pictures (a distance of eight miles). Smiling ruefully, he explained that the snow had turned to freezing rain and folks were sliding off the roads everywhere. But he had the pictures.

Friends do things like that.

Our church had burned down because my son was playing with fire. It was 2:30 in the morning, the police had left with my child. I called T., my pastor and friend.

“I’m so glad you called!”

Within minutes we were at Denny’s, I was drinking coffee and he was eating an LT (they were out of bacon). He set aside his concerns for his church building, his skinned up arm (he was blown twenty feet out of the building by the explosion). We talked. We prayed.

Friends do things like that.

The fire marshall told me to fix some electrical problems (part of the home fire safety the DA asked us to complete). R., an electrician, bringing equipment, parts, wiring, and expertise, made it right.


Most men I know don’t make close friends. My father buys his friends. When they grow tired of his calling the shots on trips to Belize or Amsterdam, he gets new ones. This is a big mistake. The criteria for friendship shouldn't be that they never challenge us.
It tends to make us self-centered and shallow.

I have one childhood friend still. We email and chat now and then. But there are some guys I can call any time, I mean ANY TIME. And they can call me.

Each month the days scratched off on the kitchen calendar wheel around to the little box marked: “Moon Howlin’.” Once a month five men get together, sit around a camp fire, and talk. We laugh, we joke. We talk politics. We talk theology. We sit by that fire, watching the flames lick chunks of split oak. And as the flames run through their cycles of leaping high on fresh logs and murmuring sleepily on cooling coals, we share who we are. We talk about our passions and our fears. We talk about our wives and children and dogs and trucks. We watch the full moon glide slowly overhead. We talk about what stirs our faith and where we struggle. We practice the art of listening and the art of story telling. I look forward to our Moon Howlin’.

That is what we are supposed to be doing.

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. --Proverbs 27:17

I once spent almost three months without speaking to, or even seeing, anyone else. I was curious about world religions and I read a four foot stack of books on every major world religion in solitude. And though that experience gave me background information I found valuable, and though it taught me how to be comfortable with my own company, it wasn’t a healthy thing to do. I was very awkward around people for a while. I didn’t know what to say, or where to stand, or where to put my hands, or anything. People need people. There is a reason we find hermits odd. They ARE odd.

We are created for company. The word company means “with bread”. We are designed to share our food and our lives. We are supposed to be passing a bag of peanuts around a fire. He made us that way because that is the type of being He is.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden --Genesis 3:8

It was natural, normal, for Him to visit the man, visit the woman, and share who He is and take in who they were. It was natural because at the very heart of who He is, He is three. Relationships are what make Him God. And we are created in His image.

He made the angels, and He holds court with them (Job 2:3, Rev 4). He made us so that we can share ourselves, share eternity with Him.

As Americans we are so full of ourselves. We have taken our freedoms as some sort of mandate for self-centeredness. The point in being unique isn’t about selfishness. We are unique so that our lives lend texture to His relationships.

“ in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach...” --Roman 12:5-7

It is good to be unique. But it should be used as an avenue for giving ourselves to each other and to Him.

We act different from each other, and we look different from each other. Diversity is good, but only because it makes the whole better.

“...After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb...” --Rev. 7:9

I don’t wish to rail against bigotry or prejudice. I see it as a stupid point of view, but people need to grow on their own. My anger would not bear any useful fruit. It is better for me to just raise my African American children and continually explain to them why their skin is beautiful. They don’t need to look like me to be loved. Someday people will see that these issues are patently silly. Someday we will share eternity together.

We all need each other. We need friends in our lives, true friends who know when to talk, when to listen, and when to just sit quietly.

Getting to know God is unlike any other relationship.

I come to know Him through His word, through His creation, and through the events of my life. These things reveal His nature.

He comes to know me as I trudge along this trail of mortal existence. He comes to know me as I come to know, to make, myself. As I bumble through life, fumbling for a light switch in the dark, He whispers instructions. I stub my toes, bang my shins, and slowly learn to listen. I become more obedient and He smiles.

It’s a little scary. When I think of the maker of all things watching me, touching my life, it frightens me. I’m tempted to make the human to ant comparison, but omnipotent, omniscient creator to human being is clear enough.

Job puts it this way:

"What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment? Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant?” --Job 7:17-19

I like the way David viewed it:

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? --Psalm 8:3-4

It’s scary because I am so flawed. He doesn’t seem to mind. Odd as it seems, perfection loves imperfection. He loves me.

Things have gotten rough at times. I’ve made late night calls to close friends. But the first calls I make are to the friend who never sleeps, and is always willing. . . to walk in the garden in the cool of the evening.


Maripat said...

Nice, thoughtful piece.

Ragna said...

Beautiful Will. So glad you have good friends, dear friend.

bjk said...

The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration. PS Buck

I have this on my computer as a reminder you said it PERFECTLY...thanks and please keep telling us your story. In Christ b

Pirate said...

Often if we stand too close to the painting all we see is the collage of colors. We need to step back to see the picture.

BHGA said...

Beautiful as always; your words just flow....thank you for this, I truly needed it...


Fred said...

I'm truly appreciative of the time you put into your posts.

I've got so much to say about friends, the first being my relationship with The Missus. I should post about it sometime, but you've hit many of the points I would discuss.

Lots to think about - thanks.

David said...

I was brought to this blog for a reason I think - you reach into my inner soul like no one else does right now.

I need these words of wisdom.

I can't remember the last time I spoke to a real friend especially a male one.

Julana said...

Thank you for sharing your faith. Faith means more, when it's been shown to withstand the severe tests you and your wife have been through. God bless you for your steadfastness in serving your children.

Running2Ks said...

Oh that is such a beautiful post. I couldn't even imagine how to endure what you have. Your friends are so valuable, so wonderful.

Keep your faith strong.

Tony Myles said...

Without friends, we only see one side of God's face.

Rowan said...

This is a beautiful piece. I do not usually enjoy writing of a testimoial nature; however, your perspective is not only refreshing, but calming. I thank you for that.

I look forward to reading more.

As an aside: I viewed your profile. In Watermelon Sugar is also one of my all time favorite books.

Andrew said...

Thankyou for your comments which led me to your site - I have just discovered the world of "blogs". You have some thoughtful and spiritual work. A couple of excerpts from a hymn seem appropriate.
We have found a friend in Jesus, / 'Tis His great delight to bless us..... 'Tis eternal life to know Him, / Think, oh, think how much we owe Him etc.
Thanks for sharing this friend who is The Faithful and True.

Kristi said...

God has unusually blessed me with several very good friends, that I can count on in any situation. I don't take it for granted. They are what keeps me going in this Christian walk.

Thanks for the visit and comment!

BHGA said...

I have come back here several times and re-read this.. I know that Jesus is our friend, but He also gives us people, our friends to walk with us through some of our darker periods. I needed to hear that it is okay to need a I have been struggling. Blessings

Hikingalong said...

Curious Servant, thank you for reminding me that men are just as deep as women are. I am envious...I need to experience a Moon Howlin' myself. Thank you for your comments and for sharing on my blog. I appreciate that and it touched my heart.

Ron said...

Hello curious servant,

Saw your post, and wanted to not only thank you for stopping by, but find out what was going on and what I could do to help. Then, I see your post. WOW! Man, did you locate me! This is an area where I have had real difficulty since relocating here to Ohio. You are blessed to have friends like that. Oddly enough, I have discovered that there are men that I do not see in person that I am closer to than some I see in person! Great writing. Please keep in touch.

Kc said...

What a great blessing to be provoked to give proper esteem to all my relationships but especially to the one with Him. Thanks very much for the visit that landed me here. ;-)

Lorna said...

great post

I loved this
I have one childhood friend still. We email and chat now and then. But there are some guys I can call any time, I mean ANY TIME. And they can call me.

and the end too. He never sleeps and is always waiting for our call. wonderful :)

Corry said...

Thank you for your prayers.
You are an encouragement and example of faith to all.

God's Grace.

Anonymous said...

thank you for stopping by. this one is a very interesting read. i'll be looking forward to reading more of your posts.

God bless!

آرمین گیله‌مرد said...

hi, can't remember that i visited u!!??? i'm not a friend of long english text, because my english sucks!!!

jollybeggar said...

nice work. i got here from street philosopher's comment bar... saw 'the great divorce' and 'moby dick' in your list of best reads. right on, man.

as a kid in the 70's, i had this christian comic that paraphrased psa8.4 using the phrase 'mere, puny man.'

anyone who can refer to himself as 'puny' and still be a warrior king, 'slayer of tens of thousands' has to have both sides of the brain firing as one.


McSwain said...

This is such good stuff. I wish I could describe it as eloquently as your writing deserves. I love this last paragraph. Thank you for visiting my place! I will be back here often. Canby is a beautiful place--You are so lucky to live there! I went to Camp Crestview there as a child.

FTS said...

So true. Friends are important, and among them we all need a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy.

Thanks for stopping by :)

Anonymous said...

CS, i hope you don't mind me adding you to my links.

God bless.

Charissa :) said...

Wow, good insight! Thanks for checking out my blog. I do have a lot of fun at IWU. Have a great day!

bornfool said...

I don't know how you ran across my blog, but I'm glad you did because that led me here. Wow! What powerful, heart wrenching writing. I don't think I'll ever be the same again. Seriously.

Hope you don't mind that I linked to you, not on bornfool. Well, see bornfool for details.

Thanks again.

4evergapeach said...

Another wonderful post Curious Servant. of lifes most precious gifts. I have many acquaintances but only a few true friends. I hated leaving behind my close friends down South. These were friends that I shared my faith with and helped me to grow spiritually. Since my move I feel my spiritual life has begun to slide. But that is starting to change. I realized the one friend I have, I did not move away from, He will always be there with me. Thank you for for that reminder. And I have started making new friends here. MI and on the Blog!

God Bless~

Tirithien said...

Well written. That friend in the garden tends to walk through the woods with me. :-)

Mick said...

Powerful stuff. Thank you for sharing.

Fox's Mom said...

Good sir, a few comments ahead of mine, BornFool writes how glad he/she is that you came across their blog, left a comment, and so led him/her here.


Thank-you for your prayers for me and mine, know that I am adding you and all of your to my prayers.

And yes, life is sometimes so very hard! How much harder without our Father!

addict said...

Hello! We ARE practically neighbors! I just wanted to come by and thank you for visiting my blog and commenting! I've been spending my morning in yours :)
Feel free to stop by and comment anytime!
Take care and have a wonderful weekend!

Lillee said...

I absolutley love the account of Job's friends sitting ny him in silence. I had read that myself not so long ago and thought it was a great passage. Of course, God isn't real pleased with his friends in the end....but it's still a great story. This post gave me chills. It was wonderful.

saby said...

Curious Servant
tanks for dropping by

it is like a church in here
sooo very peaceful

surely God is wid thee

Opie Outlaw said...

love your blog...thanks for stopping by're welcome there anytime..

I thought all was going good..till I saw Saby was here!!! (lol)


Judas Hate said...


sonoftheprodigal said...

very moving. thanks for this.


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