Tag Archives: community

In The Wild

When 11,200 feet above sea-level, sleeping in a tent, living like the early man, fishing, cooking over a fire, it is easy to feel uncomfortable and a little challenged.  Unless you’re this guy:

If you have been following my blog, you know that I spent the first week of August up in the Pecos Wilderness.  I’ve talked about wandering around lost and how hard the hike was, but what about what happened in the wild?

I went into the wild on a search, for fish, a fresh night sleeping on my new sleeping mat, and friendship.  What I found might have been a little different.  Heck, I shared a tent with the older version of the man pictured above, so how could my adventure turn out the way I expected?

Life in the wild is therapeutic for me.  I love backpacking because it gives me a chance to leave my normal life and leave it all behind.  Computers. Smartphones. Jobs. Stress.  I love being off the grid.

Guatemala was off the grid, or at least I was off most everyone else’s grid.  Living off the grid can be a challenge, especially not knowing the language, something unexpected could always be expected to happen.  But now that I am living in Colorado, I feel the need to get away, go backpacking, so that I can be challenged and refocus on life.

And so, up in the Pecos Wilderness, off the grid, we were attacked by a hungry heard of chipmunks.  Those little rodents were aggressive.  We had to lock away our food, even so they unzipped my backpack and chewed through three layers of plastic bagging just to eat three raisins.  They were telling me that the Stewart Lake campground was their home turf and I better show some respect.  Maybe they’d grown too used to backpackers and I could see why.  As I packed my backpack a troop of 15 teenagers hiked into our area to set up camp.

After a little fishing we packed our tent and trekked up to Lake Johnson.  If Stewart Lake my first step into the wild, albeit a little crowded, Lake Johnson was truly off the grid.

Other than the Rices, our backpacking partners, we didn’t see another human for a couple days.  It was just me, my dad, and the wild.

The fishing up at the high mountain lake was great, but then again, not great.  But maybe that was part of the challenge.  When I can’t just walk up to the closest Chipotle for a burrito to feed my hunger.  Providing food for myself isn’t meant to be easy.  Sometimes the fish just don’t bite.  And when they don’t, what’s going to calm the hunger pains?

Fortunately, I packed in enough food and really, caught plenty of fish.  I spent most of my time out by the lake, casting my line.  It was a beautiful time, but also invigorating.  Each night on the backpacking trip, we lit our stoves, boiled water so we wouldn’t get sick, and then hoped our food would turn out edible.

In the wild you can’t rely on your own strength, just ask Aaron Ralston.  He got stuck and lost an arm.

In the wild it can rain or not rain.  Too much one way or the other and you could be dead.

But in the wild you can also find life.

In the wild, up at Lake Johnson, I reconnected with my best friend.  Philip and I grew up going to church together, but because we live in two different states, hadn’t been able to talk in several years.

At night around the camp fire, with no computers or iPhones, we were able to engage in each other’s lives again.

Philip is currently stepping out into the wild in his own life.  God has called him into the full time ministry.  He has left his job, just months after becoming a father, and is placing his trust in God to provide for him.

There is nothing wilder than living on the edge for God.

On our last night around the fire, Sid, Philip’s dad, asked us to talk about what we’d experienced on the trip.

We’d talked about fishing, joked about all the deer that’d wander through our campsite (they would wander through and nibble on our leftovers knowing they were safe as it wasn’t hunting season).

But my favorite part was was talking about faith and community.  I don’t think these conversations would’ve happened if we hadn’t gone into the wild.  I felt focused on life, as each morning and night, around the the camp stove, we shared our hearts.

As I packed up my tent to hike out of the wild, I knew I didn’t want to stop sharing my life with the people around me.   It took going into the wild to see that my life needs true community.

This year, while I pursue my masters in teaching, I don’t want to forget what I learned in the wild.  I know that my studies will be challenging, but I’ll get comfortable. I know I’ll be connected to the grid.  But I hope that I stay connected to the community around me and not stop living in God’s wild creation.

I would like to thank all of my readers here at the Neighborhood Cafe.  I hope you guys continue to be challenged by God and that each day you see how much he loves you.  God will provide for you, just put your faith in him.  I believe a life connected to our creator is life out in the wild, even if that wild looks like a city street.  Again, thank you all for reading my blogs over the last several months.  I would love to keep you all as part of my blogging community.  If you want to continue to read what I write, click here, and follow me over to my blog.  I hope you all subscribe so we can continue to build a faith community.  

Brendan Scott

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Don’t Do Life On Your Own

On July 20th I was reminded how much we all need people in our lives who care for us.  I was shocked when I woke up on Friday and found out that a madman had opened fire on the audience during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises.  I am sickened that people went out for the night to see a movie and now families have been ripped apart.

That Friday morning, after leaving for work, my dad sent me a text.  He wanted to tell me he loves me and is proud of me.  My dad is over sentimental, but I don’t really mind.  I am glad I have a family that cares for me.

Having such a loving family makes me wonder what happened to the shooter.  Why was he such a loner?  I’ve heard reports from people who played soccer with him in high school or sat next to him in grad school that he never connected with anyone.  That he was just odd.

We may never know why the shooter didn’t have a community around him, that loved him and supported him.  He probably thought he was better off alone.

I think, especially after the movie massacre, that’s utterly wrong.  We need people in our lives to help us celebrate life’s joys, to help us grieve life’s sorrows, and to help us recover after we’ve been hurt.  I pray that the people directly affected by the shooting in Aurora don’t shut themselves in.  I hope that my city of Denver and state of Colorado continues to reach out to these families in the months and years to come.

Our world may be broken, but if you and I set out to show our neighbors love and respect, maybe, just maybe we will see true healing.

I try to live by what Jesus says, which is hard, because I’m not perfect, but he commands me to “Love my neighbors as I love myself.”  How can we do that if we live in seclusion or if we just rely on our own strength?

Over the last year I have found a group of friends who love and support one another.  We meet almost every Monday night for dinner and games.  It is a very fun time that often ends with us praying for one another.  I’m very thankful for each person in the group, because I know I am supported, and  I don’t have to live my life alone.

Do you have people in your life?  I’ve been talking about living spiritually in my blog a bit this year.  I’m finding the number one thing I need to do to live spiritually is to connect with God and let him connect you to a healthy community.  I can’t live my life on my own.  I hope you don’t either.  I know it can be hard to open up to other people, but the reward is worth the risk.

God will redeem this horrible tragedy.  I believe, “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” Paul, the man who wrote the above quote, had seen many atrocities, but also, as an early Christian leader, he’d seen Christ work miracles.  He knew that God will take what has been broken and heal it.  The scar may never fully disappear, but if we let him, it will turn into something beautiful.  And that will happen when we connect with the people around us.

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The War in Afghanistan and Mother’s Day Combine to Make a Holy Day

Sunday morning, Mother’s Day, as the light of a new day was still meandering down our street, my across the way neighbor walked out to the curb to pick up his newspaper. He stood for a long time staring up and down the street, holding his paper, a look of satisfaction smoothing his creased face. I followed his gaze.

American flags, on thin steel poles, about ten feet tall, lined my side of the road. He watched the flags catch the wind. I could see the pride swell in him as the flags fluttered.

After a time, he turned on his heel and stepped over the purple flowers draping the sidewalk and started back to his house. But he stopped, turned, and looked to his right at the three small stars and stripes he had decorating his garden. Bending down he pulled the middle flag up, adjusted it, and stuck it back in the ground. Then he stood facing the three flags, erect, heels together as if on a parade ground, as if he wanted to salute, but couldn’t. Maybe because he’s retired Air Force and was not in uniform. He and time stood still. Finally satisfied, he trooped back up to his front door.

The night before, a family in our neighborhood had welcomed home their son from the war in Afghanistan and had asked permission to plant flags along our street. I don’t know the family, though I’m very happy for them. And on Mother’s day weekend! They–along with me and my neighbor–will remember this holiday for a long time.

Soon my neighbor’s door closed behind him and I returned to brewing my coffee.

Why Celebrate?

Humans celebrate special events. We mark birthdays, rites of passage, anniversaries, raises, graduations, and important memories. Our lives revolve around rhythms: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Passover, Easter, Cinco de Mayo, July 4, Father’s Day (hint, hint), and more. If we can’t find a reason to celebrate we make one up.

Animals don’t do this. At least not the ones I’ve known. My sweet dog wagged her entire body, tail first, the same way every time I returned home whether I’d been gone ten minutes or ten days.

We Need Holidays

Perhaps we need holidays because we habituate to the remarkable. “Ho hum,” people living in Vail eventually say to a mountain scape. God paints a new, unique, glorious sunrise every morning and we need a Sunrise Service to make it special. Everyday is a gift but we need birthdays to remind us.

Without a rhythm of feasts and festivals and parties throughout the year we may have to resort to the techniques advertisers use on us shouting, “New and Improved,” “Free,” “Epic television” just to get us to pay attention to our own lives. Or not.

Skeptics ask, “Why celebrate mothers only one day a year?” Yes, we should be grateful for mothers and fathers (hint, hint), and sunrises and our faith and marriages and children and each other every day. But to set a day aside and mark it out for a special celebration elevates the person or issue or idea above all others, if only for that day.

Everyday Can’t Be Holy

This is what the word “holy” originally meant: “special or set apart.” Thus a holiday is a holy day, or season set apart for special recognition. Despite what Garrison Keillor says, we can’t all be above average.

Most of the twenty or so flags are still standing along my street. They are beautiful still; but now when I’m in a hurry to get to an appointment, I can’t drive slowly admiring them and praying for the family whose son returned.

And I have since seen my across the street neighbor once again retrieve his paper. This time he picked it up and went straight back in. Perhaps his coffee and eggs would burn if he lingered. Or perhaps we both had that one holy moment and that was enough. We simply need to be prepared for the next one.

Eugene C. Scott fancies himself a writer so believes he has poetic license to watch people and write stuff about them. He is also attempting to write about what it’s like to live spiritually for a year.  You can join the Living Spiritually community by following this blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.

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Moby Dick and How I am Forgiving the Church

By Eugene C Scott

I set Monday aside for practicing forgiveness. Believe me, I need all the practice I can get. Regardless, my thought was that during Holy Week, like Jesus, I would forgive something Big. So, I rummaged around in my past and touched on a particularly putrid wound I had so far bandaged over as “just a flesh wound.” Wiser people call it denial.

Ignorantly I pulled this memory out and laid it on the table. I could’t believe it. This grievance was not that big when I stowed it away for safe keeping, I thought.

But there it lay–a virtual Moby Dick.

I’m supposed to be good at spiritual stuff like forgiveness. I am a pastor, after all. But maybe I should have started this during-Holy-Week-do-one-thing-a-day-that-Jesus-did experiment with something easy like walking on water.

Gaping, I wondered if I could hide Moby away again. But it was too late. I had even told my congregation I was going to work on forgiving something Big on Monday.

“I’m going to forgive the Church,” I said naively.

But it was difficult knowing where to start.

Like many of you, I’ve had several painful experiences in the church.* And yes, I said several. That means I’m like the guy who gets sick from the all-you-can-eat salad bar but keeps going back for more. And I’m not talking a little food poisoning here. I’m talking hemorrhagic colitis or E. coli O157:H7 infection.

But seriously, these three situations crippled me, hurt my family, and if not for God’s tender, firm hand and a few very good friends and counselors, I would have left the pastorate–and the church–and maybe the faith.

Never-the-less, all day Monday, as I went through my work day, I studied my wounds, and prayed, and grieved anew. This new pain piled on old is why we are reluctant to forgive. Mid-day, however, I remembered reading a book on forgiveness by Lewis Smedes. Smedes wrote you have to specifically name the wrong done to you before you can forgive.

I realized it was not mere denial blocking me from forgiving theses churches and moving on in a more free life. Low-grade bitterness stemming from vague forgiveness was keeping me emotionally bedridden. I had told others this truth but never applied it to these wounds of mine. Yes, I knew they hurt me. Yes, I was wronged. But how exactly? I was surprised after the years of moaning and groaning I’d done about this, I could not state the cause of my pain in anything but vague, general terms.

Unlike Aspirin, forgiveness cannot be applied as a general anesthetic.

Monday night I broke out my journals and began pouring over them to find clues as to what the real issues were. First, I recognized I was not hurt by “the church.” But rather I had experienced three separate battle field traumas in churches. Some were inflicted by individuals, some by systems, some by whole groups, some–in part–self-inflicted.

Second, I saw the wrongs ranged from a lack of acceptance resulting in judgement and subsequent isolation to emotional and spiritual manipulation leading to abuse or what is called clergy mobbing.

Suddenly the whale began to break into smaller pieces, pieces I could work on. Something in me floated free. Forgiveness began to feel real and attainable.

Attainable not in one day, however. As I ended Monday writing my newest journal entries on an old story, I adjusted my Holy Week goals. I would still work on my daily list. But forgiving something Big would not be a sprint but rather a marathon.

The next step? I’m not sure. But, as they say in running, I’m just going to put one foot in front of the other. And I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Eugene C. Scott is not a runner but likes to use running metaphors. Metaphors are not nearly as strenuous. You can join the Living Spiritually community by following his blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.

*In saying this I am not claiming to be a victim or innocent. Though I was wronged, I realize my faults and sins added to these situations. **Clergy mobbing is a term researchers have begun using to apply to the abuse of clergy.

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Extreme Sport: Walking in Guatemala

Walking in Guatemala should be considered an extreme sport. Except extreme sports aren’t nearly as life threatening. Every time I stepped into the street this last week while in Xela (aka Quetzaltenango), Guatemala on a mission trip, my life flashed before my eyes–along with several speeding motorcycles, microbuses, cars, trucks, and Chicken Buses. The only exception to this was early Sunday morning when mainly church goers are out and they are unlikely to hit you because that would make them even later to church.

But seriously, two years ago on his birthday my son, Brendan, was hit by a car that was going the wrong way on an “Una Via.” Brendan did not look both ways before stepping into the street. The car bowled him over and didn’t stop. Thankfully he’s ok.

Therefore, when I was out, I paid close attention. And when I wasn’t dodging careering vehicles, I noticed something.

There are few smooth, straight roads in Guatemala. 

In Xela, even city streets are rugged, at best cobblestone, sometimes dirt. Alley narrow and full of potholes, the streets wind and twist through Xela, the second largest city in the country.

This has economic roots. They don’t have the money to repair every road. Even the Pan American Highway has dirt sections and whole stretches that have collapsed down the mountainside and have only white painted stones as warning.

Still, even if Guatemala had the funds, I’m not sure they would spend them repairing roads. In the U.S. we believe every pothole, every headache, every problem has a solution. And the solution is money.

Not so in Guatemala. Bumps and curves are part of life’s terrain and are incorporated into life. There seems to be an unspoken acceptance here that not all roads (both real and metaphorical) need to be straight and smooth. Does this make some Guatemalans more adaptable or tough? There’s a gaping hole in the sidewalk? Step over it.

It made me wonder. Do my often smooth, straight roads (both real and metaphorical) make me less tough and adaptable, more apt to complain? Do I then expect more provision from God than God ever intended for me? As if God is the Concierge of some five star hotel I call my life?

In other words, life in reality has few smooth, straight roads, Eugene. Get over it.

Few Guatemalans go anywhere alone.

I also noticed that those speeding cars, taxis, microbuses, and Chicken Buses one needs to watch out for are always stuffed full of people. The good news is if you are unfortunate enough to be struck and killed by one of these vehicles, there will probably be plenty of witnesses.

Obviously this also is an economic issue. Most Guatemalans have even less money for cars than they do for roads.

But I think there is more to it than that. They, Quetzaltecos, even walk arm and arm. Sometimes whole families strung together totter down the narrow, cracked sidewalks. Almost anytime of day you will see people standing in groups in parks and on corners, or in front of tiendas, talking and laughing, maybe arguing too, though I’m not sure. I don’t speak Spanish.

It seems to me Guatemalans live life together. And they seem to like it.

Economically many may have to live and work close to each other. Whatever the reason, Guatemalans seem to be “together people.” They are not isolated from each other. They do not embark on a solitary commute to work only to be re-entombed by an electric garage door opener when returning home. Our wealth and ubiquitous technology lets us live with a false security and facade of self-dependence. The rugged individualism so prevalent, and detrimental, in North America seems not to have taken hold in this part of Central America.

Could this be why all roads need not be smooth and straight? Life’s potholes are easier to climb out of with a helping hand.

Ten days in Guatemala is not enough to even scratch the surface of its culture. And Guatemala has serious problems with poverty, government corruption, poor education, and severe prejudice.

Even so, Guatemalans are fascinating, hardy people in a beautiful country. And these are the insights that struck me as I walked the streets of Xela (pun intended).

I would like to be more rugged and yet less individual; more willing to use my own God-given strength but also more willing to bear burdens with and for others. I would like to be less apt to depend on governments, programs, and pretty promises for my well being yet more dependent on God and interdependent with the people and things God has given me.

I don’t want life to be safe but rather a walk with God that can be considered the most extreme of sports.

Eugene C. Scott has been to Guatemala twice. His son, Brendan, lived and taught there for three years. Eugene is currently writing another blog called The Year of Living Spiritually. You can join the Living Spiritually community by following that blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.

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Looking for a New Restaurant? Try God’s Kitchen

As a kid I didn’t have time for food, except peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hamburgers, and an oatmeal-like breakfast cereal I called “Cooked Bird.” I liked it because it had a funny bird on the box. Eating got in the way of playing.

But my mom worried. So, the doctor said, “If all he wants to eat are burgers and PBJs, let him.” I loved that doctor. She wore galoshes and a dress that looked like John the Baptizer’s camel hair cloak.She was smart and well dressed. But I was really skinny. “Eugene the string bean,” my sister teased threatening to tie string to me and fly me like a kite.

Even when I was older, however, and gained weight, food was little more than a necessary evil.

That was then. This is now.

Today I not only eat healthily but I enjoy food. I even cook. Ask my wife, Dee Dee.

What’s changed?

I wound up in God’s Kitchen.

First, I learned eating is a good way to stay alive. Dee Dee, taught me this. After we were married she said, “I don’t care what Dr. Thulin said. Eat what I cook or die.”

Dee Dee is a woman of her word and, fortunately, a fabulous cook.

Second, I’ve been surrounded by people who are gastronomical geniuses, including Dee Dee, three Dietitians, and several outstanding cooks. They’ve rubbed off on me a bit.

I’ve always been a little mystified and jealous of the above friends who really love food. At almost any meal not only did they savor

the same meal I was mindlessly shoveling into my gaping mouth, but simultaneously they recalled details of meals past.

“Remember the aioli sauce on the burgers we ate in 01? In that cafe in South Dakota?” one might say.

“Yes.” Lips pursed, eyes glazed, poised fork full of fettucine. “It was heavenly. So creamy but alive.”

What? I can’t remember my last bite.

Food is more than physical nutrition.

But the real turning point came when I discovered my eating habits were, in fact, going to kill me. In the spring of 2011, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Read about that here. In the process I realized eating is as much emotional as physical. In their book “The Insulin-Resistence Diet” Cheryle R. Hart and Mary Kay Grossman argue having a “food memory” such as my friends have, contributes to physical and emotional health. They say overweight people often overeat because, though they are physically full, not having paid attention to what they just ate, they are emotionally unsatisfied and go back for more. Many without a food memory read, watch TV, or work while eating. For many then, enjoying food can contribute to emotional health because it works to satisfy on multiple levels.

Pre-diabetes I had zero food memory, though I was not hugely overweight. And dissatisfaction raged in me. I did not so much overeat as I ate fast and moved on to the next experience.

Food is also spiritual

Though I am still a food connoisseur in progress, slowing down and savoring meals has expanded more than my palate. Food is spiritual. Most religions feature feasts and fasts as disciplines for growing spiritually. Some form of food (mostly chocolate) is the number one item people give up for Lent.

Enjoying food is becoming a main ingredient in my spiritual life, a metaphor for slowing down to savor all aspects of life. Instead of simply praying a blessing over my meal, I take the first bite of my omelet, fully tasting it, slowly, and say the prayer of thanks with the flavor in my mouth. As I wrote here, slowing down and paying attention to life in general is this year’s Lenten practice.

And I am beginning to better understand Jesus’ many references to food.

“Man cannot live by bread alone, but by everything that comes from God,” he said. It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Eugene, branch out. There’s more to food than PBJs and there’s more to life than bread. Just as you sustain yourself on the bread that comes from God, do so with all of life. Pull up a chair in God’s Kitchen.”

Here Jesus seems to be trying to convince us that in God’s Kitchen, material and spiritual provision are not cooked up in separate bowls. They are one.

Then Jesus made an even bolder, stranger claim about food. One that had early Greeks accusing followers of Christ of being cannibals.

“Take the bread and eat. It’s my body, broken for you. Drink the wine. It’s my blood to wash you clean. As you eat, remember me.” Bread and wine then taken in the way Jesus prescribed fill the hungry void between us and God and mysteriously become sacramental, spiritual made material and material made spiritual. Communion, two worlds joined, becomes the means for God healing our souls.

This means when we are seated in God’s Kitchen, a meal is not merely a plateful of spices, textures, flavors, hot and cold, nor proteins, vitamins, fats, and carbohydrates, but rather a mysterious mixture of heaven and earth. Food is not a waste of time, but the redemption of it. I’m learning.

Of course there are still times, even in God’s Kitchen, I wolf my food and end with an embarrassing belch.

To that God usually responds, “Bless you. And cover your mouth when you do that.”

Eugene C. Scott usually eats with his mouth closed and believes hamburgers are humankind’s greatest culinary invention. He is attempting to see 2012 as “The Year of Living Spiritually.” You can join the Living Spiritually community by following this blog and clicking here and liking the Facebook page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church. God’s Kitchen, several good charities that feed the hungry go by this name.

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Loneliness and the Lost Art of Deep Friendships

By Eugene C. Scott

What do the TV shows “Seinfeld,” “I Love Lucy,” “Cheers,” and “Friends,” all have in common? They are all listed in TV Guide’s 50 most popular shows ever. Also each could be described this way:

Seinfeld (#1) is a sitcom about a group of friends living in New York City who navigate the meaninglessness of life together (Subplot: who they do or do not have sex with).

I Love Lucy (#2) an old sitcom about two couples who are friends trying to survive Desi’s stardom and Lucy’s craziness (Subplot: nothing about sex).

Cheers (#18) is another sitcom about friends. These friends meet in a bar and deal with life from there (Subplot: who they do or do not have sex with, except Norm).

Friends (#21) is a sitcom about a group of friends (go figure) who do or do not have sex with each other.

These shows depict people in “life on life” friendships in which they depend on one another for most of life’s seen and unseen necessities.

Sadly, for many, this kind of friendship is as unreal as the TV shows portraying it. Researcher John Cacioppo estimates 60 million Americans struggle with chronic loneliness. And “Americans reporting a healthy circle of four or five friends had plunged from 33 percent to just over 15 percent” between 1985 and 2004.

But loneliness is not only a matter of how many friends one has. Harry Reis, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, claims, “Some of the most profound loneliness can happen when other people are present.” Lonely people can just as often be surrounded by others. What most of us are yearning for are what twelfth century monk Aelred of Rievaulx called “spiritual friendships.”

What is a spiritual friendship?

These deep are friendships are often born out of pain. Ruth and Naomi, that most famous of biblical friends, clung to each other after the loss of both of their husbands. I met my best friend, who also happens to be my wife, in a time when I was struggling with addiction and felt I had no future. Through the years the all too frequent pain in our lives has only driven us deeper with each other.

Yet, many of us hide our pain, even from those closest to us. This hiding only further isolates. Spiritual friends are vulnerable and that deepens our relationships.

Spiritual friendships also are non-utilitarian relationships. This is where the above TV programs promote a fallacy. Many of the friendships depicted in them are friendships with benefits: friendships that include so called casual sex.

The phrase “friends with benefits” reflects an assumption that other people often exist for what they can do for us or give us.

“Did you get any?” boys masquerading as men often ask each other after a date. Many times, if we think about it, we even speak the words, “I love you” to get the same words in return, at least in part. Interestingly, these “give me” relationships most often leave us empty.

The Apostle Paul told some of his friends, “I have no interest in what you have–only in you.” Spiritual friends aren’t in the relationship for their own gain.

Spiritual friends also value your soul. In the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” blues guitarist Tommy Johnson admits he sold his soul to the devil in trade for his guitar skills. When Everette, who values Tommy’s soul, is shocked, Tommy says, “Well, I wasn’t usin’ it.”

We talk of being soul mates but rarely develop the vulnerability to dive beneath the surface where the soul resides. But our souls are what make each of us unique. Not, as advertisers claim, our clothes or toothpaste. Souls are the God-breathed image of our Creator.

A spiritual friend will look beneath the designer jeans for your designer soul.

Spiritual friendships are also redemptive. To be redemptive in daily life means to be part of the process that helps turn pain into beauty. Recently a friend of mine honored a mutual friend, Jay, by recognizing Jay’s deceased father Jim during a military ball. He awarded Jay with a plaque displaying all of Jim’s lost Korean war medals. Suddenly Jim became more than an old man crippled with Emphysema. He became a hero. And those of us still mourning Jim’s loss, especially his son, had our grief overlaid with pride and hope and healing.

Friends who walk with us through our pain, and refuse to use us for their own gain, and care for our souls also then care about growth.

Why are shows about friendships the all-time most popular? In part because they portray something we all yearn for: life on life communities. Do they do so with complete authenticity or reality? No. But, just as any good story does, they give us hope for what could be.

Eugene C. Scott has friends who occasionally call or text him for no reason whatsoever. Several of them also show up at The Neighborhood Church and nod their heads if he ever says anything profound.

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