Friday, January 18, 2013


This post is dedicated to the mother of my close friend who recently suffered a heart attack and is recovering. I pray that you get well quickly.

Have you ever been around someone who is a mystery? They attract other people, and you yourself wish to be near them. Not because of their appearance or their confidence or their personality, but because they seem to be in possession of something very valuable but intangible - something which brought comfort and perhaps joy with it.

Not to say these people are perfect specimens of the human race. They may struggle financially, battle recurring depression, have health troubles, challenges within their family, but regardless, they have something that pulls them through all this with the extraordinary ability to uplift others as well.

I recall how my dad stood at the grill during my graduation party, and a group of young men who had never met him before surrounded him, asking him questions and seeking his advice. I knew why, but they probably didn't understand. And they certainly weren't the only ones to do this during my time at home. I had friends and cousins and saw near strangers hang on my dad's words, trying to glean something permanently strengthening from them.

And my mother to this day often finds herself in long conversations with people she has just met. They spill their troubles, and she mops up the messiness, doling out compassion and love.

You meet people with this sort of quiet power, but you're most likely to recognize its impact if they are not your friends and are not related to you. I know many of my friends possess it - I can feel it while in certain conversations with them - but it is not startling to me. Yet I have recognized it in something so pedestrian as an email, and it did surprise me; a gentleman I scarcely know sent me a message telling me not to be discouraged concerning my writing, but how he said it held that same power that gives strength if one avails oneself of it.

Sometimes it pervades the home where people dwell. There's more than enough of it to go around, and it's like permanent sunshine indoors. While on a trip this fall to visit family and friends, I recognized my Uncle Kipper and Aunt Cheryl's house had it - love and nourishment for all who lived, visited or rested there.

Sometimes people bring it with them into a home where there is conflict and struggle, and it suddenly, inexplicably dispels the shadows and balances everything, at least while they linger.

One of my closest friends moved to be nearer her family, a long way from friends who love her, but I understood what good there was for her in that decision when I met her parents again on our trip, the day of her daughter's baptismal. When they came to church for the wonderful occasion, they brought that sunshine, that strength with them. And, yes, it was already in that spiritual refuge; it was already present with their daughter, but they made it more abundant. For me, being around and talking with them and my friend at her home after the baptismal was like homecoming, a spiritual homecoming. I recognize what they carry with them. It gladdens me, and I garner what wisdom I can from it.

My friend told me that at her parents' 50th wedding anniversary, her dad said that he was proud all 10 of their children had gone to college, a great thing. Then he stated that the reason their family had made it through difficulties and thrived was because they always had God.

How many times have I heard my dad say the same thing? And many others.

That quiet power, that sunshine, that strength, that thing that makes some people state after a devastating tragedy that their faith helped them through the pain - that thing that confounds so many people - it comes from God.

The more you cultivate it by seeking Him, the more likely you are to feel it when your life is troubled and the more it will give strength to others without you fully realizing it.

The wind blows where it will, and you hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell from where it comes, and where it goes: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit - John 3:8


  1. Beautiful, and utterly true. There have been several people who have lent me that same strength at the low points of my life, seeming to come into the situation, as the scripture says, like the wind.

    1. Like the Keith Greene song - "Rushing wind blow through this temple/Blowing out the dust within"

      And you have done that, Dad, for others. Remember the boy in my fifth grade class who many years later thanked you for helping him by taking the time to talk with him?

      But somehow your comment makes me think most of Grandpa Finn.


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