Tuesday, May 5, 2009

the garden

friend \ˈfrend\
from Old English frēond; akin to Old High German friunt friend, Old English frēon to love, frēo free 1 a: one attached to another by affection or esteem

"No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you."
John 15:15

Thanks to my young friend, Andrew Baur, I have a garden. In my personal effort to reclaim language, there are words I do not use lightly. The word friend is one of them. There are many acquaintances in my life....few friends. And, in the true sense of the word, that is as it should be. As I was listening to a lecture by Gregory Wolfe on beauty the word 'friend' came to mind. The lecture, The Wound of Beauty, is a must-hear (click here for free download). In this talk, Wolfe's discussion ranges from Hans Urs von Balthasar to Flannery O'Connor. His comparison of Goodness, Truth and Beauty to Faith, Reason and Imagination is marvelous. But when he began to discuss the tension in art between realism and idealism my mind said,"This applies to friendship!" I began to remember those in my life, past and present, I call friends. And I thought of Andrew. You see, the reason I have him to thank for my garden is not that he helped me plant. He encouraged me to plant. That is something friends do. Which leads me to guitars, something the Lord has used over the years to encourage me and remind me that He is a friend. Years ago I gave my guitar to someone who needed it. Time passed and a friend, knowing I did not have a guitar, gave me his. The next year we went to Brazil together on a mission trip. While there, one of our interpreters asked if he could play my guitar. As I watched him play, the Spirit of God whispered, "Give it to him." So, I did. At the time, Terri and I were teaching a couple's sunday school class. When members of the class learned what I had done they chipped in and bought me a new guitar. That one stayed with me a little longer, but, during an education conference in Moscow, Idaho, once again that still, small voice spoke and one of the teachers at the Logos school carried an Ovation guitar home. This happened while friends and I were working on an album in Memphis. And so, before the next session I asked Rusty McFarland, the studio owner, if I could use one of his guitars. He asked what happened to mine. I told him and his response was, "Humph, God would have to send me a telegram before I would give a guitar away!" A couple of days passed. Rusty called me, saying he needed to see me at the studio. I could tell from the tone in his voice something was amiss. When I walked into the studio, the expression on Rusty's face confirmed my suspicions. "This has never happened to me before," he began, paused, and continued, "but while I was in the shower this morning, God told me to give you my guitar." It was a vintage Guild, a thing of beauty. By far the best instrument I had ever held. A year passed. I was headmaster of Shekhinah, a classical Christian school. Every morning we began the day with praise and prayer, with me on the Guild, until one night someone broke into the school and stole it. When I told Rusty he cried. A few months passed and Rusty called, inviting the family to spend the weekend with he and Carol. They had moved to the country, outside Ashland City, so Rusty could be near Nashville. That weekend he presented me with another Guild, a cutaway. He had told my guitar saga to a songwriter friend of his (who toured with Reba McEntire), and after thinking about it said, "Well I've had a good year. Give him this one." It was the guitar he moved to Nashville with, the one he toured with. Years later, you guessed it, that beautiful instrument changed hands. While our oldest son, Joshua, was attending Visible School in Memphis I handed it over to him. The guitar I currently play is a joy, partially because I helped build it. The Lord may let me play this one until I can pass it on to my son Samuel. I hope so. The thing I have learned is this- friends, like the guitars in my life, come and go. My role is not Owner but Steward. And, as I grow older I understand the value in esteeming someone. So, thank you Andrew for being a friend.

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