Saturday, May 20, 2006

a gift

My wife and I are away from home right now. She needed to visit a medical specialist in a large city for her annual checkup. While there we got to renew our friendship with a buddy of mine from college days and his family. We stayed with them for two evenings. One of their sons was with them for supper our last evening. Somehow--I don't remember now--he mentioned something about some poetry he had written. My ears perked up and I expressed interest in it. I asked if I might read some of his poetry sometime. He's a quiet young man, working through some issues in his life. He left the table and soon returned with a collection of his poetry which he was happy for us to look at. I got two booklets of poetry I had self-published from our guest bedroom and brought them to the table. After awhile the young man asked if we could each read one of our poems. Great idea! He read a touching poem. I affirmed him, a man, at being able to express tender emotions through poetry, something our American culture does not always affirm. His girlfriend sat next to him and I asked him if he had ever written poetry to her. He said he had written her some, as well as long letters. I looked at her face and she was glowing.

I read two of my poems from my book Writing the Wrongs, "Safety's Smile," and "Piggyback." I was caught by surprise when my voice cracked and I nearly started crying when I got to the point in Safety's Smile where I had written about the role our son has had in my own recovery journey. Of course, it was fine for me emotions to show, but, again, our culture does not easily affirm that for men. I'm sure it helped the young man to realize that he is OK to feel the emotions that he does and to be able to express them verbally. I hope he marries the lovely young lady who sat beside him and whose face glowed as she thought about the ways that her boyfriend had shared his soul with her through tender words.

Later in the evening, after the couple left, the young man's parents told us that I had given their son a gift by taking an interest in his poetry. It was special to me to hear that. It was a gift to me to have him share his poetry with us. Had it not been for our common interest in expressing our feelings through our poetry, I probably would not have gotten to know the depth of his person.

There are many different ways that we can touch the soul of another. There are different ways that our own souls are touched and by which we experience healing. May we take the opportunities that come our way to show interest in the things that are so meaningful to others but which they may not have made very public. Sometimes when we do so we give a gift and get a gift in return.