I had sharp disagreement with a friend of mine the other day. Some of you who have been on this journey with me for a while know of him-Brook Metcalf, my dance coach.
I don’t really remember the content, or even how it started, but unfortunate words were exchanged. I believe he used the word ‘abrasive’, and I used the word ‘overbearing’. Looking back, it seems that both of those words had some truth to them.
We stumbled around in a murky, unpleasant linguistic forest for a while, until he had to get on a plane to return to Colorado. The conversation did not end well.
I sat at my desk for a bit, and mused. Well, that was it, I guessed. Brook and I are only student and coach, and neither of us owed the other much. I composed a what I thought was a conciliatory email, sent it off, teared up a bit and went on with my day.
I continued to ponder the situation as the day wore on.
I find myself more and more an observer of human interaction these days, and it is endlessly fascinating to me. What do we owe each other? What does God ask of us? How should we treat each other, really? What’s the difference between how spouses, friends, parents and children, bosom buddies or lovers should talk to each other?
In one of my previous posts (since moved to the “Wounded Soldier List”) I frosted over because a friend of mine who laid claim to the words of Jesus Christ acted in a way that I perceived to be dismissive.
Well, he was dismissive. But what did he owe me? Like Brook, my other friend and I are neither lovers or family, so one would think that going the extra mile really isn’t necessary.
Unless it is.
Later that afternoon my cell phone buzzed and “Brook Metcalf” appeared on the caller ID.
Hoo, boy, what did I do now, I wondered, cynically.
Understand that Brook is a performer, vocally musical as well as lyrical in dance. He has a tremendous speaking voice.
“Victoria,” he asked kindly, “what is going on here?”
I was stunned into silence. (Hard to believe, I know.)
People often say that stutterers like me sometimes have crashing torrents of words in their brains that get ahead of their tongues. The result, like then, can be utter speechlessness. Brook’s opener had rendered me speechless.
I couldn’t believe my dance coach cared enough about a simple friendship to take the time to make it right. Who does that?
Well, it turns out that all of us should. Here’s a good quote from the Apostle Paul in his letter to church in Rome-
Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. The Ten Commandments…finally adds up to this: Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.
I’ve always maintained that English is not a very good language as far as the word ‘love’ is concerned. It’s very limited, and we have to embellish it. I ‘love’ my girlfriends unconditionally, I ‘love’ my children ferociously, I ‘loved’ my husband romantically, and I ‘love’ other friends gratefully. Given preschool administrator job, one could even say I ‘love’ children professionally. I also love Brook, as his hands were part of a long series that has helped lead me out of a very dark place.
Brook and I are not the same kind of children of God. He has a very colorful history, quite divergent from mine. We share a certain degree of cognitive ability, and a great deal practice and skill in our respective fields.
His past includes all kinds of people, my friend set was fairly homogeneous. His past includes brushes with destiny, mine was insular. But both of us have this burning desire to make a difference in the world, one single person at a time.
Like the Apostle Paul says, the Ten Commandments simply adds up to ‘love other people as well as you do yourself.’ If you think about it, that’s a tall order. We often love ourselves pretty well, especially to the exclusion of other people.
I took a deep breath, and tried not to stutter into the phone. I was fully aware that it would have been much more convenient for Brook to write this whole thing off, and go on about his business. It showed a certain character, a certain sort of bravery and risk taking to pick up the phone and call. And much more in line with what the Apostle Paul would have all of us do.
“Well, Brook, …..”
About thirty minutes later, we had made our way out of the dense forest of misunderstanding, and into the clear sunlight of friendship.
I had a lesson to look forward to, a friend to cherish, and another one of a long list of very cool people who have influenced me positively and I am very blessed to know.
Be well, Brook.