Saturday, January 14, 2012

same kind of different as me.

"I've been thinkin a lot about what you asked me."  
I had no idea what he was talking about.  "What did I ask you?" 
 "'Bout bein your friend."
My jaw dropped an inch.  I'd forgotten that when I told him at the Cactus Flower Cafe that all I wanted from him was his friendship, he'd said he'd think about it.  Now, I was shocked that anyone would spend a week pondering such a question.  While the whole conversation had slipped my mind, Denver had clearly spent serious time preparing his answer.
He looked up from his coffee, fixing me with one eye, the other squinted like Clint Eastwood.  "There's somethin I heard 'bout white folks that bothers me, and it has to do with fishin."
He was serious and I didn't dare laugh, but I did try to lighten the mood a bit.  "I don't know if I'll be able to help you," I said, smiling.  "I don't even own a tackle box."
Denver scowled, not amused.  "I think you can."
He spoke slowly and deliberately, keeping me pinned with that eyeball ignoring the Starbucks groupies coming and going on the patio around us.
"I heard that when white folks go fishin they do somethin called 'catch and release.'"
Catch and release?  I nodded solemnly, suddenly nervous and curious at the same time. 
"That really bothers me," Denver went on.  "I just can't figure it out. 'Cause when colored folks go fishin, we really proud of what we catch, and we take it and show it off to everybody that'll look.  Then we eat what we other words, we use it to sustain us.  So it really bothers me that white folks would go to all that trouble to catch a fish, then when they done caught it, just throw it back in the water."
He paused again, and the silence between us stretched a full minute.  
Then:  "Did you hear what I said?"
I nodded, afraid to speak, afraid to offend.
Denver looked away, searching the blue autumn sky then locked onto me again with that drill-bit stare.  "So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me:  If you is fishin for a friend you just gon' catch and release, then I ain't got no desire to be your friend."
The world seemed to halt in mid-stride and fall silent around us like one of those freeze-frame scenes on TV.  I could hear my heart pounding and imagined Denver could see it popping my breast pocket up and down.  I returned Denver's gaze with what I hoped was a receptive expression and hung on.
Suddenly his eyes gentled and he spoke more softly than before: "But if you is lookin for a real friend, then I'll be one.  Forever." 
"IF YOU is lookin for a real friend, then I'll be one. Forever."
As Denver's words echoed in my head, it occurred to me that I could not recall ever having heard any pronouncement on friendship more moving or profound than what I'd just heard from the mouth of a vagabond.  Humbled, all I could do in return was make a simple, but sincere promise:  "Denver, if you'll be my friend, I promise not to catch and release."

This book tells the story of a friendship where there was life-changing love. 
It is an example of how God, in His mercy, chooses to use us when we aren't sure we want to be used.
It reminds us that love changes the world, one soul at a time.
It challenges us to remember that the people that seem the most un-like us aren't that different at all.

"Be kinder than necessary. Everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."
~Attributed to both T.H. Thompson and John Watson

Many of us can say that we've served meals at nearby homeless shelters.
Or, handed out money at red-lights.
Or, taken food & blankets to the homeless man that sleeps at the blockbuster.

But, I wonder what it would be like to form a genuine friendship with someone seemingly so different?
This story leaves me praying for an un-likely friendship in my own life.
When I close my eyes, I can actually see her face and the faces of her children.
We're watching our kids play.
We're cooking dinner together.
We're having coffee.
We're worshipping together.
We're buying groceries.
We're celebrating Christmas and Thanksgiving and Easter and birthdays.
Oh, Lord, let it be.
Let me open my eyes and see her.
Let us be real friends. Forever.


  1. I must read this book. I have an unlikely friend. I hope over this next year we can become even more friendly.

  2. I think you might like what I'm working on. :) So if nothing else, I'll have one reader! :)

  3. Sounds like a lovely book..I will have to look for it next time I am out..I especially love the quote you have at the end of your post..Have a great weekend..

  4. Oh goodness girl we are soooo on the same page. God is working. I've got chills!

  5. This is a courageous prayer.


  6. This book is on my "To read" list!! Can't wait to get to it!! I tagged you in a fun little get to know you better linky post. Play along if you have time and would like to! xoxo!

  7. this hooked my heart in such a way Tara I'm crying
    this is such a cry of my heart..i know you "know".
    THIS is what the Jesus Creed looks like played out in real life
    I'm so tired of superficiality and I'm not saying that to be prideful
    I'm looking for real..just like the vagabond
    and I'm ready to have a forever friend...s
    and willing to be one and
    I pray for eyes for you to 'see' the threads of beginnings
    of friendships with those so un like you but really not unlike you
    at all
    i lerve ya friend..cont to pray you know:)

  8. One of my all time favorite books ... so inspiring and a perfect example of how God works in our lives.

  9. I thoroughly enjoyed this book after I read it. I couldn't stop thinking about it for weeks after I read it. To open ourselves to a person so different than ourselves (outwardly at least)really takes the Lord's operating in us. To have His heart for man has always been a prayer of mine. May the Lord continue to enlarge our hearts for His purpose!