Over the weekend, I had an encounter with a fellow - I wished I could say he is a gentleman, but I that is difficult. He started me to think more seriously about the conversation and for that reason, I really need to thank him. Unfortunately, he said what he said and hung up and I cannot do that either.
But I have learned to count my blessings on each and every day I am privileged to be here and I had hardly opened my computer today when I discovered these words of wisdom from my dear friend, Terry Hershey. He had this to say -
"I am invested here. I don't even know where this will take me. Regardless, I am invested here."
I keep such sayings and in this case, it comes close to being my creed - every since May 12, 1975
My real investment in life comes from the fact that I recognize, I was born with two ears and two eyes, but only one mouth.
In this fellow's case, I used my two ears to hear and was fortunate that I could not use my mouth.
All of this started with an article a friend of mine contributed to our local newspaper. He has a weekly column on the Religion page of our local newspaper and he dares to say what he sincerely believes. I know that because he is not only my friend, he is also my Pastor. I said as much in a letter to the editor explaining why I had been offended by a response to my friend's thoughts and encouraged others to think before they write.
I have learned that in my decades long experiences of writing letters to the editors of newspapers in the areas in which I have lived. In the beginning, I was very much like the person who now offends me; he was quick to accuse and did not offer a legitimate reason for their opinion. I learned the hard way when some of my earlier letters were castigated - severely criticized, by people I was forced to recognize, who knew so much more about my subject that I had even considered. "Live and learn" - words of advice I had heard about in the 6th grade while attending school in a one room building in a farm community, but had failed to grasp their value in teaching me how to live, more effectively.
So over the weekend, my "friend" called with the following verbatim thought. "I trust you are the guy who writes letters to the editors. You want to defend your friend's words? They are bull..." I expect you understand his thought. And of course, he hung up.
I didn't have any problem hanging up my receiver, but his thoughts linger on.
There is no need to explain his reasoning. My friend writes about religious beliefs and for some reason that escapes my understanding of religion, he does not always conform to the teachings of many of the other Pastor/teachers in this area. Some people want to tell me that these others are clinging to thoughts in the Bible that have become outdated by modern day science. I don't know about that.
What I do know, however, is that in my travels I have met people of many different religious beliefs and I have one thing in common with every one of them. We are all called to love or respect one another's religious beliefs. A wise man once taught me, the Bible was not written for the benefit of others, it was written for my benefit! It took me some 45 years to understand that and worse, I had no real knowledge of the Bible in spite of the fact I had been a regular church attender for most of those years. I would learn that the "key" to understanding the Bible centered on my need to repent for the life I had been living and give the teachings I would discover in the Bible, an opportunity to guide my "new" life. To my amazement, it has been a most amazing discovery.
I do not search the pages of the Bible looking for ways that others can live their lives. My only call is to love them, just as I have loved others sentenced to death by the State and seen their sentences over turned. I have loved men who were our enemies on the battlefield and watched as they became my fellow citizens in this, the greatest nation ever ordained by God. All because of love.
And that is our call, regardless of the denomination to which we belong. It matters not how others want to believe. Our sole responsibility is to love them. each and every one of them. When we do, we will soon discover, they do listen.
I even love the man who called, "casting stones" at my friend and I pray that I will - somehow, learn his identity so that I might help him to learn that in my experience, the word that he used could be so much better utilized as a fertilizer that brings forth life to products that may even nourish us.
The reason I have used these words to describe this situation is because I know from experience living in this community for most of the past decade, it is because of the fact I do have two eyes and two ears. We seem to have so many living in this area who suffer from what I would prefer to call - r.a. It took me awhile to understand those initials medically, stand for - rheumatoid arthritis. That's one way, but it seems to me that there they could as easily stand for - religious antagonism.