When It Comes Home

I received a text message late last night from an old friend who I haven’t spoken with for far too long:

“Have you heard from _______ today?”

“No. Is something wrong?”

“Yes…can you call me?”

“Give me a couple of mins.”

My wife was asleep in bed beside me and I didn’t want to wake her up with my conversation, so I walked up to our living room, sat in my seat and placed the call. My old friend proceeded to tell me about our mutual friend’s daughter, who had been rushed into major surgery earlier that day. Things were not good. She then continued our conversation by telling me of another mutual friend. I knew he had been in a health battle of his own over the last year.

“Do you know about _______?”

“I know he has been very sick for a long time.”

“He is and has been. We went to visit him tonight and we don’t expect him to come through but a couple more days.”

After that, we talked for another thirty minutes about our connection, our friendship, our season of shared life and how our paths had crossed at just the right time. We gave thanks to God for the gift of friendship and love. And then we lamented our sadness that many of our shared friendships have been strained of late. You know the story – the tensions and divisions that swirl around us that have resulted in friendships that have become more distant, or even family relationships that have completely broken down. The conversation made me think of some of those same friendships and relationships in my own life, which then led me to reflect on how most of the things we take our stands on really just aren’t worth it.

The whole conversation sparked a creative moment in me, leading me to put the following words together in a poem. I don’t claim any prowess as a poet, none at all. But writing like this is cathartic for me. With the sadness of the day yesterday (on a global and personal level) putting these words down and reflecting on the relationships I need to proactively seek repair in helped. Maybe reading them will evoke some response from you…

When It Comes Home

It’s easy to
Craft a statement,
Pass a comment, or
Post an opinion on social media
About seemingly important matters:
Politics.
World Affairs.
Religious rumblings.
Or whatever the latest controversy is.

When the situation is far away;
When it’s reality is distanced
From our daily life,
Thinking what we think;
Saying what we say:
Opining on matters we
know very, very little about
Comes so naturally to us.

Words get thrown out there
About people we don’t really know,
About things and places far away
Where some pain has been noticed by us,
But not felt by us.
We might think we feel it,
But we don’t.
Not really.

However, real pain doesn’t remain distant forever.
When it comes home
None of those other things matter.
No issue.
No philosophy.
No political position.
No religious conviction.

When it comes home,
When the tears roll down our own cheeks,
And the pain is personal,
Felt deep within…

It’s then we realize
That all the other stuff
Just wasn’t worth it.

Those things we drew our lines in the sand about.
The “important stuff” we allowed to separate us.
The politics that divided us.
Those things that got us so riled up,
And stopped us talking…

None of them were worth it.

That’s the thing about pain:
When it comes home
We realize that there’s no time left
to put things right.
We see and know that
The clock has run out
Before love had it’s chance to heal and restore;
To recover what once was.

So stop it.

Stop letting far off, distant things –
Things beyond our control,
Stop letting them
Push family and close friends
Away.