The Friend in My Adversity…

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Today just a short thought. I spent most of this holiday weekend down with a nasty cold which allowed me to do some reading and working on my book A Great War in a Revolutionary Age of Change: The Foundations of the American Civil War and Why it Still Matters Today. What I was working on was more on the technical “wonk” side of the development and use of artillery that preceded the war and how artillery was used in it. Lots of analysis, and delving through obscure books which I found absolutely fascinating, but anyway I digress and someday soon you’ll get to read that as well.

Last night a got a wonderful phone call from an old friend, a priest from my former denomination who remarkably hasn’t cast me off. We had a wonderful time, he’s a brilliant man, a combat veteran of Iraq and suffers from some of the same issues that plague me, but with added medical issues from inhaling so many toxins during his two combat tours. He’s gone through a lot, but he and his family are doing well. He is now in medical school and doing very well, but like I said he’s brilliant.

After we returned from Iraq we suffered and commiserated a lot, sometimes over a lot of alcoholic beverages. Last night our talk went on for quite a while and it was great just to do that, so relaxing, good memories, thoughtful discussion of what is going on in the country and in our lives. One thing he said that meant the world to me was the difference I had made as a mentor, encourager, and friend and how important I was to him. He said I was like the character that Kevin Costner played in Bull Durham, Crash Davis, the old catcher sent down to help out the rising star. In a way he is right, and I love the comparison.

As we talked he noted it was so seldom that people take the time to listen, care, encourage, and mentor others. In fact its something that is mentioned quite often in the New Testament. I mentioned to him that one of the people who recently expressed a similar thought to me was a former Navy doctor who I knew when he was an intern; he’s an atheist, but we truly appreciate and value each other.

Sadly, as a culture we have lost that connection and ability to care and learn from each other, even when we disagree on certain points, even important ones. Additionally, we often tend to discard those who are broken in some way, or who color too far outside the lines. There is a creeping Ayn Rand, survival of the fittest style of Social Darwinism that has infiltrated our culture, and especially the church. It has become part of our politics as well and I am sure under the new administration we will see it bloom as we have never seen it before, but I digress again…

Being friends means to let each other know how much we appreciate each other and encourage one another.

Ulysses S. Grant, who is one of my heroes with feet of clay remarked, The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.” Grant’s ever mindful friend and subordinate William Tecumseh Sherman noted, “Grant stood by me when I was crazy, I stood by him when he was drunk. Now we stand together.” 

With that I wish you a good day,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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2 Comments

Filed under christian life, Loose thoughts and musings, Pastoral Care, PTSD, remembering friends

2 responses to “The Friend in My Adversity…

  1. Ian Stewart

    Dear Padre Steve,

    In your last blog you wrote “Sadly, as a culture we have lost that connection and ability to care and learn from each other, even when we disagree on certain points, even important ones. Additionally, we often tend to discard those who are broken in some way, or who color too far outside the lines. There is a creeping Ayn Rand, survival of the fittest style of Social Darwinism that has infiltrated our culture, and especially the church. It has become part of our politics as well and I am sure under the new administration we will see it bloom as we have never seen it before…”

    As I do with most things you write, I agree with your above statement. However as I’ve learned from a book I’m currently reading – American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard – this is period of animosity towards each other is not new to our country’s history. It has existed at one level or another since the earliest days of the Pilgrims, Puritans and other 17th Century settlers. The cultural differences between the different regions cited in Woodard’s book have waxed and waned with the most extreme being your specialty, The Civil War.

    Today, the stresses are not between the North (Woodard calls it “Yankeedom” and the South – “Deep South” and “Tidewater” (your neck of the woods)), but between the East and West coasts and what can loosely be called “The Heartland” of the country. Woodard’s book provides the cultural biases that explains the liberal/conservative divide and Trump’s election

    Of course, these stresses are not unique to the United States. Similar phenomena are occurring in other parts of the world causing right wing parties to gain in popularity.

    How will things turn out? I believe the right will continue its rise until it over plays its hand – which it always does, and then the left and moderates will start their ascendancy. The problem, of course, is we have to get through the coming years with the likes of Trump in power. Hopefully, it won’t be too long.

    Cheers,

    Ian Stewart .

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