As my last post describes, this Summer I’m heading into a new season in life both professionally and geographically. One of the most challenging things about leaving is knowing that the people I routinely see and spend time won’t be as frequently part of my life. Over the last few years one of the most significant relationships I’ve developed has been with a counselor/mentor. I’m totally going to miss spending time with him, learning from him, confiding in him, and seeing him as often as I’ve been blessed to. Even though distance will soon separate our friendship, I’m confident that our relationship will continue none the less. Below is a poem I wrote for him as a thank you / goodbye.
Beyond the Words
For Jim Matthews on my wedding.
7.2.11 – Chris Scott
Why is this unexpected friendship so important to me?
Why is this relationship so life giving?
Why do I feel so overwhelmingly blessed for these past few years, like I won the lottery, except even more?
Was it his gracious acceptance of a curious pondering?
As I struggled with my calling and identity,
I sought an ear with an older man,
and we got Starbucks.
He opened up and held out his shadows,
He challenged me to seek counsel and guidance,
Everything changed that afternoon,
But that wasn’t it,
That isn’t what means so much to me
And bears eternal significance.
Was it his embrace and overwhelming handshake?
My friends and I often joke about how manly and yet how gracious is his grip.
“Have you shaken Jims hand yet? Holy Crap!”
No, that’s not it either.
Was it all of those conversations about theology?
Trying to “know” and “un-know” God?
We talked heaven, hell, and mystery.
He shared from a place of romance,
Because God is still romancing him!
His faith has not grown stale,
No status quo.
God still speaks.
As much as I’ve learned, those lessons aren’t it either!
Is it his time?
Weekly I entered his office to share thoughts, frustrations, and happenings,
So many cherished times.
He was there when I hated my job,
When my habits and indulgences got the best of me,
When my grandmother and great grandmother died,
When I got drunk with my dad,
When I broke up with my first girlfriend,
When a friend drowned,
When I loved my job,
When I fell in love,
When I got a college diploma,
When I got engaged,
When I traveled the world,
When the confusing cloud of ministry was thick he was there,
When I didn’t understand God,
When I cried at the thought of leaving my friends and family,
And as I embark on marriage,
He’s been there for so much.
Was it any one of those memories?
No, it’s more.
I’ll never forget the first time he prayed and said my name.
“Dear Father, may Chris sense your smile on his life.”
I can’t begin to describe the deep chasm of thirst that this life giving statement quenched.
older than I, wiser than I,
and more weathered than I,
and still drawn to grace,
Looked on me with adoration, concern, and acceptance.
It was as if my soul had been longing for a spiritual Father
To bring light to my struggles,
And rally me on towards Christ.
There was no agenda,
no responsibilities or projects to complete,
Just God’s mercy.
Spoken from his heart,
Like it was real,
Like he experienced it first hand.
It is his love,
The truth of his posture towards me,
He cares about me,
He thinks I’m the man.
This pillar in my life is like stone,
More than the thoughts,
And more than the words,
What means so much to me is the fact that Jim loved me.
I did not merit his affection,
I didn’t even pay for it.
Jim, thank you.
Thank you for sharing with me your journey,
And bearing witness to mine.
Thank you for letting me touch your scars,
And share with you mine.
This was the place where we were the same,
Where it wasn’t you or I,
But Christ who stepped into our shadows,
And invited us to his bright embrace.