Over my lifetime, short compared to some, an eternity compared to others, I have had the chance to meet and grow close to some very wonderful people.  Some in my family, most in my day-to-day living of my life.  More often than not, when I meet someone my attentions are drawn to two things about them that are essentially two sides of the same coin… who they’re trying to be and who they’re supposed to be.  Often that means seeing character flaws, but usually it means that I’m drawn to the inherent qualities in that person that are redeemable, positive, or perhaps divine in nature.

I guess that is why in the past I’ve been able to drop everything to spend time with someone I just met.  The experience of interacting, learning about someone else, seeing the world through someone else’s eyes is almost as intoxicating a drug as creating a poem, singing a song, or acting on stage.  Over the years I have met supermodels, singers, heads of government, authors, writers, teachers, scientists, and the lot.  I have also met ditch diggers, labourers, janitors, mechanics, etc.  More importantly, every person I have met has been either a brother, sister, father, mother or child.  I believe in the ability to connect between any two people.  I just cannot bring myself to believe that people cannot find a place where they have common ground.

I feel that over the years, that I have taken more from each person that has been the gift to me than I could have possibly ever given back to them.  In thought, in deed, in perspective…  The world is a greater and a smaller place because of the grace of having met them.  Inside of me there is the deepest desire that they too have been blessed for the times they’ve spent with me.

It would be foolish to think that any positive affectation upon another person would be entirely of my doing.  ME, who really couldn’t tie my shoes on successive days without help (hehe)… well, you get the idea.  I know that God, Himself orchestrates things, and when I’ve been obedient things happen in very wonderful ways.  Although, not necessarily in time for me to see the outcome.  That’s always frustrated me. (side bar that sentence was)

Last year, I saw the movie “Walk the Line”, the autobiography of Johnny Cash.  The movie was compelling enough, and I found myself in places throughout the film identifying with several of the characters in it.  So much so, that I went and bought the books themselves.  Most movies don’t thrill me, and I have a credo that I live by that if a movie is so extremely popular by a majority of our country…. it cannot be worth watching, or at the very least, it cannot be worth spending money on.  There’s a line from a song by T-Bone Burnett that says, “When you’re talking to that many people at one time, You’ve gotta be lying to somebody sometime”.  (another random tangent I’m sure)

But, I was drawn into the life of someone who I respected as a musician, and wanted to learn more about him without the glitzy hollywood wrapping paper.  I found some time and actually read about him.  While reading the book I was astounded to find out things about this man that mirror some of the things that happened in my life in the last 20 years.  And, whether it was mentioned or not, in the books, you could God’s hand in Johnny Cash’s life in so many instances it reads like a “if you ever needed proof that God exists….here you go” roadmap.  While I don’t connect in many ways to the person of Mr. Cash, there is the mechanism of loss that I truly understand from his life.

He lost a lot of things, people, connections in his life.  And, except for the hand of God in the person of his wife June Carter, and through circumstances… he was convinced that he would have died in so many instances.  He felt that he didn’t deserve the second and third and fourth chances in life to be the man he felt he was supposed to be.  He felt the stings of the lashes that Moses felt in the wilderness tending sheep.  He felt the alone, the bones breaking as God picked up his lost sheep and brought him home.  He also felt the point where he had no hope, no dreams, nothing.  He was so downtrodden about what he’d done to others, his first wife and family… he couldn’t forgive himself.  That’s such a horrible place to be, when you cannot forgive yourself.

God cannot forgive you, if you cannot find a place to be forgiven in the first place.  It’s like telling Jesus,  “Hey, your death on the cross wasn’t enough to cleanse me from my sins.  Get back up there and suffer again, because I’m not ready to accept that Your sacrifice was all I need for another chance.”  It’s a mixture of a confused point of view of who God is, who we are, and what grace is…. sprinkled with a huge amount of pride.

In the movie, Cash’s forgiveness started with the moving scene with June extending her care and encouragement that this isn’t the end and isn’t all that he could be.  That scene touched me, because in the hand of someone who Cash truly loved, God told him that he wasn’t useless… that he was getting another chance.  He believed it.  Sometimes it would easier if God just made some sort of burning bush or sign in the sky to get His point across.  I’m not sure if we’d believe it more if it happened that way, but maybe it’d be easier to see, and harder to ignore.

Me, I used to have a few people who were in my life that were like June was to Johnny.  That hand that kept trying to remind him that he was supposed to be made for other things.  That saw him as he was, and still saw how he was supposed to be.  I don’t have them anymore.  I wonder if people aren’t made of weaker stuff nowadays, or if I’m THAT proud…. so far gone that no one can stick around anymore.  Honestly, I don’t think I’m that difficult to live with, but since I don’t live with me, I dunno.  But, as I’ve gotten older, I understand it a little better I think.  Being proud is the death of almost everything that keeps relationships going.  I suppose that’s why no one can stay friends with me more than 10 years.

I would love to have the chance to sit down with a cup of coffee, and talk with a few people, if only to say those words that I don’t have the chance to anymore.  To thank them for the times that they enriched my life and my understanding of the world both divine and not.  When I was younger, I had no regrets.  Now, my regrets come wrapped up in the things that I didn’t say.  And that’s the way, that God’s gonna cut me down…. until He gets the pride out-of-the-way of His purposes… if there still are a few left.

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