Hebrews 11:1

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My previous post of Burger musings was complete within its context, but it falls appreciably short on the larger impact of relationships in life and personal experience.  That was appropriate for a post on a burger and a bar.  This goes a bit farther.

One of my college roommates was Mike Grogan.  He had a great sense of humor, loved intelligent conversation, hated losing in backgammon, worked hard, and loved his family, idolizing his older brother.  He was a fun guy and the type of person that makes life richer and just the type of person I would hope that everyone should hope to meet, in college or anywhere else. 

He passed away this last December from cancer, which I mentally understand but have difficulty processing.  I still think and feel young, and serious illnesses are something from which I expect people to recover.  It’s a modern age.  Medicine has come a long way.  And, I’m an optimist when it comes to the cards of fate.   I’ve known others my age or younger who have died, but I’m not yet old enough where I equate illness with any significant probability of death with my generation. 

In the context of relationships, Mike and I drifted apart a long time ago for no other reason than lives being lived and geography.  But his death is a reminder that for a relationship that mattered, I didn’t step up for more than a couple of Facebook messages while he was ill, either unaware or content to avoid the potential of its seriousness.  His death remains unreal to me, but the resulting lesson is that relationships matter, and they require investment.

Still, that is just the introduction to my larger point.

On September 11, 1992, I rented a car and drove to Richmond, Indiana to attend Mike’s wedding the following day.  Aside from the Interstate taking me through new geography, what I remember is listening to the radio all the way there.  Still only five years removed from Clemson, I loved sports, particularly college football.  So the trip became an opportunity to listen to sports radio stations, hearing the different spins on the local and national teams in the various cities I passed through as I drove north from Birmingham, AL.  It made for a fun drive.

I don’t remember much about the Saturday, other than I know I attended a wedding, a lengthy Catholic one.  I had a limited amount of time with Mike, as he had many family, friends, and obligations.

Sunday was the drive home.  Once again I dialed into sports radio, and the talk naturally had moved to pro football... Bengals, Browns, Bears and such.  I like to watch pro football, but I don’t “live it” as I do with college ball.   So, I changed the channel and became a Christian.  The next morning at work, my mentor, himself a Catholic, commented, “There’s something different about you today.”  Indeed.

I wish I could recall the pastor, the radio program, or the sermon, but I don’t.  And I have no idea why I settled into religious programming.  It’s something that I had avoided during five years of regular driving around on company business.  But I do recall the ho-hum Midwestern corn fields and a general lack of anything to distract or preoccupy my mind except for the radio, my companion for the trip.  I wasn’t in a somber or reflective mood at all.  In fact, life was quite good: married with a daughter, enjoyable job, friends, health, etc.  Heck, a friend just got married!

Boring drives are not a prerequisite to faith. However God’s grace works (which I continue to dwell on at times), I recognized that as satisfying as my relationships were, they remained imperfect.  There was a loneliness that I felt to my core, one not imagined or suggested or logically deduced, just an isolated place desiring to hear the still small voice that could speak to it.  Whatever the sermon was, that’s where it spoke.

As much as I might try to surround my life with people that matter or clutter it with amusements as I tend to record on this blog, I know that my life is imperfect and incomplete without God in it.  I can, and do, reason through Christian theology to satisfy myself that belief can be properly reasoned. I didn’t come to it searching for answers to origin, morality, meaning, and destiny, though it does that.  And faith is not just a hope.  It’s a lot of things, but it begins first with a call to relationship, then becomes a trust that fills the void within.

Thanks, Mike, and put in a good word for me.

1 comment :

  1. An interesting post indeed. I once had a friend named Grant. I never got to go to Grant's wedding, nor was I part of his divorce. He was a "cool" friend I knew due to his like of women and the enjoyment they can bring. We enjoyed several adventures both pre-college and post. As we drifted in and out of being close friends, I was reminded to contact him on Facebook one day. As I looked at his page, I found out that he had slipped on some ice (carrying groceries for some gal of course), hit his head, and never recovered. The weekend I was supposed to attend his funeral was spent with my cardiovascular specialist talking about my then uncertain future. He was my age. You start realizing that life is not really that long. One minute you're carrying groceries and the next...

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